There are so many things you can control when it comes to your business, but winter weather isn’t one of them.
Although you can’t eliminate weather emergencies, you certainly can prepare for them and have a plan in place for how to handle work-related tasks when Mother Nature’s bearing down. Along with a well-considered emergency plan, your company should also have the following elements in place so you can respond swiftly and safely, no matter how much snow comes or how heavy the ice accumulation:
Good insurance. Check your business coverage and ensure that it will pay out if your building or equipment is damaged by winter weather. Sometimes special plans are required to cover specific acts of nature, such as flooding, but you don’t want to learn you don’t have the necessary coverage(s) after the fact. Also look into a comprehensive or umbrella plan that will cover visitors who may slip on ice or puddled water on your office floor.
Backup heat source. Even if you’re still open for business during winter weather, your furnace may decide it’s time to close up shop. Having a backup heat source in your facility can keep everything business as usual, even if your main furnace breaks down. In extremely cold weather, it’s vital that you keep your building warm, both for the sake of your people and for other sensitive parts of the structure like the plumbing.
Inclement weather hotline. Alerting your employees and customers that you’ll be closing early or not opening during the upcoming blizzard via Facebook and Twitter is nice, but you should also have an inclement weather telephone hotline that can update visitors and employees about your status. Be sure to leave instructions for rescheduling appointments or handling emergencies if you’re turning the lights off early.
Shovels and ice melt. If you maintain a storefront, it might feel a little above and beyond to also maintain your own sidewalks in bad weather, but this could save you a lawsuit in the future. Slips and falls on ice are a huge source of income for accident attorneys, but a little preparedness can go a long way on your part. If you don’t have entry rugs in place, consider buying a large rubber-backed model for each door to further increase the safety of everyone coming into your business.
Alternative fulfillment plans. Inclement weather disrupts more than your immediate area, unfortunately. Companies that do a lot of fulfillment will need a plan for handling delayed shipping when bad weather strikes. Utilizing alternative shippers, investing in faster shipment methods or even projecting later shipping dates during the winter than the rest of the year are good places to start with alternative fulfillment. If you work with a fulfillment partner, you might consider splitting your stock into more than one of their warehouses so that customers can continue to be serviced no matter what the weather brings.
Backup operators. When the weather turns scary, the last thing you want is your employees to be exposed to danger. However, your phones may still ring off the hook and someone has got to be there to answer them. You have a few options to handle this issue: you can use a cloud-based VoIP phone system that can let you reroute calls to operators in their homes on the fly or you can hire an answering service that can step in to answer the phone when you can’t. Either way, your employees are protected, your customers are serviced and you still project the image of reliability.
When winter weather emergencies strike, it’s an opportunity to show your customers that you’re prepared to help them no matter what comes. Instead of being forced to think on the fly and try to cobble a solution together, having the right tools in place ahead of time creates an air of calm, even in the worst storm.