The winter season presents a familiar—yet unique—challenge to many U.S. business owners. Severe weather in the form of heavy snow showers, icy conditions and frigid temperatures can contribute to property damage, injuries among employees as well as customers, and possible business closures.
Adequate preparation establishes a protocol for emergencies and assures owners their business will recover quickly following a winter storm. The ability to assess potential risks beforehand and initiate an effective plan in the event of inclement weather gives entrepreneurs protection and peace of mind.
Determine the greatest risks
An inspection of the building where a company conducts business helps owners pinpoint issues that need to be addressed before winter. If entrepreneurs undertake this chore early enough, they should have ample time to make structural upgrades that will prevent storm damage in the coming months and beyond.
Business owners must also examine which aspects of the property have the most impact on their day-to-day operation. If the loss of heat, for example, would jeopardize whether the company can open for business, a contingency plan that includes a secondary heating source could offer some valuable coverage.
Entrepreneurs should consider what would happen, nevertheless, if they had to shut down the business for several days. This exercise requires patience but can often highlight ways to improve winter storm preparation, such as securing backup generators and making sure the property remains accessible to customers.
Calculate the cost of interruptions
Computing the expense of possible disruptions in business for one week, one month and six months equips owners with critical insight. Once they have crunched these numbers, entrepreneurs can investigate insurance options or begin building a cash reserve that will allow the company to function after a storm.
Business owners would also be wise to contact their insurance agent and find out if their current policy remains sufficient. A consultation with a business insurance specialist can help entrepreneurs approximate the value of their property and ascertain how much they can afford to lose as a result of severe weather.
Another sound approach calls for developing professional relationships with alternative vendors in case primary contractors cannot provide service. Placing an occasional order with these auxiliary partners ensures they will regard the business as an active customer when the company needs them during winter.
Build a communications plan
An essential part of managing a business in the winter revolves around the capability to correspond with integral parties. Entrepreneurs must be able to update their employees, customers and vendors about the forecast and advise them on how the resulting weather conditions will affect business in the immediate future.
Instituting an email alert system for all people involved with the company can efficiently disseminate vital information in the event of an extreme storm. Business owners should double check to see whether they have primary as well as secondary email addresses for everyone who interacts with the company regularly.
Many businesses have already created a Facebook page, and they would be well served using it to notify the public whenever they experience difficulties related to the weather. Also, utilizing a company Twitter handle to keep customers up-to-date on developments during the winter can increase brand awareness and loyalty.
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