Here’s what to do if you suffer a calamity at sea or on land.

• First step: Take stock of exactly what happened. Gather all employees or crew who can tell you anything about the incident and get their story as soon as possible. Ask them to put their information in writing and to stick to the facts, not offer opinions. This is very important for your insurance carrier or if a lawsuit is filed later.

• Next step: Make sure that only one trusted person talks with the press, your insurance people and anyone else (including relatives of any crew members) so that the correct story is made public. Tell your employees and crew that texting is not allowed unless cleared through you. Cellphones and texting can be brutal in these situations because the wrong story can very easily come out, especially in the case of a noteworthy mishap. Also, never assume a mishap is not noteworthy.

• Third step: Look into the incident on a fact-finding basis not a fault-finding basis. If you even remotely appear to be trying to find blame among your crew or other employees, they will stonewall you. If you are simply trying to see how you can make meaningful improvements to prevent a similar incident from happening again, you’ll be well received.

• A big no-no: Telling your crew or employees that something will cost you a lot of money or that your insurance premiums will go through the roof. Believe me, they don't care. If you want them to respond, make them feel like you care for them, not just your wallet.

• Related tip: For shipyards that store vessels and one or more are damaged as a result of your error, please ask the vessel owner to turn in the damage claim to their own insurer.

This is a smart idea in more ways than one. Your liability policy will only pay on an “actual cash value” basis that usually will make your customer mad. Their own policy will pay on a “new for old” basis, which is much better.

Your customer will have to wait until your insurance company investigates and then decides to pay. Your customer’s insurance will pay right away.

This is the best reason: You may end up getting the repair job instead of your customer going elsewhere because they’re mad at you.

With these tips you can make a bad situation better for you and your business.

A collection of stories from guest authors.