By: Kenneth Wardle | Chief Executive Officer
Depending upon where your business operates, winter weather is an unpredictable challenge that predictably arrives every year. In other words, we all know it is going to happen - we just don’t know when or how hard it will hit. Taking a few precautions and making a clear weather safety plan now will keep your business ahead of whatever nature might throw your way.
Here are the steps you can take now to prepare for extreme winter weather and mitigate the risks for your business.
Know Your Winter Weather Risks
Take a good look at where your business operates. In the US, Southern states might need to address flooding, high winds, and ice storm conditions. Our Northern and Midwest states are no strangers to snow - sometimes lots and lots of snow. What kind of weather emergency might strike your area?
Now list how your local weather might put your small business at risk. Are your pipes protected from freezing temperatures? Would an ice storm down power lines in your area? Would a large snow make it difficult for employees to get to work? What weather events have challenged small businesses in your area in recent years?
Once you know your risks, you can strategize. Risk mitigation strategies include having a plan in case of a weather emergency, having the best safety and backup equipment, and having the proper insurance coverage.
Make a Plan for Winter Weather
The plan your small business has for winter weather should be part of your overall emergency preparedness plan. Now is a great time to review the documentation you have in place for emergencies and update any information related to winter weather and make a weather safety plan.
Emergency Preparedness Plans - For a great example check out this Emergency Preparedness Plan template from Ready.gov.
First, make sure all of your employee contact information is up-to-date. Designate a few reliable team members as emergency contacts.
Next, plan for exactly what will happen when bad weather strikes. Does it make sense to have a late opening on a snow day? At what point will you decide to close shop due to weather? How will you communicate with your team during a weather event? How will you coordinate with your snow removal vendor? What measures do you have in place to keep your staff and customers safe during a weather event? Get everything neatly formatted and on paper.
Now train your team! Your employee training should include regular emergency preparedness training. Acting now to prepare your team for whatever winter brings will relieve stress and keep employees happy, too. Everyone will feel more prepared if they know the plan and expectations.
As part of the training, check in with your team and find out what their individual bad weather plans are, too. An employee with children who are suddenly home from school due to a snow day might be in a pinch. Other employees may have a difficult time getting to work due to transportation issues. If you know about these circumstances ahead of time, you can plan how you might need to triage staffing.
Plan to Stay in Business
Once you know your weather-related risks, there are preventative steps you can take to keep your business open during bad weather. Having the right equipment and a business continuity plan can keep you up and running, even during a winter storm.
Business Continuity Plans - Ready.gov has created a detailed 4 step process for creating a Business Continuity Plan HERE.
One of the main reasons businesses have to close during a winter storm is power failures. Ice, high winds, and snow can all down power lines. Having a backup power supply will keep your business operating. Backup power is especially important for any business handling food. Strict temperature requirements for food storage mean you need to keep power running to your freezers and fridges at all times. Spoilage is expensive and inconvenient. Installing a generator or other backup power source will help you stay ahead of the weather.
Also, consider your computer system and terminal set-up. As we become more reliant on computers to run our businesses, a power or internet outage could stop business, too. Even if you have a backup source of electricity, do you have a backup method for connecting to the internet and transmitting payment information?
Act now to protect your pipes from freezing. Wrap any outside pipes and have a plan for how to keep pipes warm during extremely cold conditions. Ask your plumber for advice if you are unsure how to keep water running and protect pipes from exploding.
Snow removal is another consideration for staying open during inclement weather. Check now to make sure your contracts with your snow removal company are in place for this winter. A phone call to say hello and confirm you are on their list is a great idea, too. Don’t forget to review where fire hydrants are located. Keeping hydrants clear of snow is a safety requirement and a smart precaution. If this company also salts your sidewalks and parking lots, ask to see when they will be starting preventative measures to keep pavements clear of ice. If your business is managing the salt, stock up now to have the supplies you need when ice threatens.
Again, as part of your business continuity plan, check in with your team to see who can shoulder more responsibility during a weather event. The unpredictability of weather is stressful for everyone, but having a plan and a few designated individuals who are trained for the situation will help keep business running smoothly.
Contact Jet Capital today if you need fast working capital to purchase equipment or supplies to prepare for winter. Smart preparation now can save your business money down the road.
Check Your Insurance for Winter Weather Coverage
Sometimes even the best plan is no match for Mother Nature. Having the right insurance to cover natural events is an important risk mitigation strategy. Not all policies cover floods, so check to see if you need additional coverage. Also, business interruption coverage can protect your business when revenues are lost due to unavoidable closures.
Your insurance agent will be happy to provide you with more information about what you can do to protect your business and complete your coverage. This conversation should include an analysis of what your business is worth, how much revenue you might lose due to closures, and what preventative measures you can take. Some policies may even include discounts for preventative measures like owning a generator or having a new roof.
Jet Capital is here to help in weather emergency situations, too. We understand that it might take time to process insurance claims and receive funds after a storm strikes. Our fast, flexible working capital funding is designed to keep your business running and help manage cash flow.
Contact us today for more information about merchant cash advance funding and our business funding solutions.
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