As the COVID-19 crisis persists, small businesses continue to confront difficult challenges. Another test nonetheless confronts this group: impending winter weather. Experts note that winter affects small businesses in particular ways. For retailers and restaurateurs, difficult travel curtails foot traffic and sales. If the winter is severe, consumers have fewer discretionary funds because heating and transportation costs rise. Injuries – slips, trips and falls on slick surfaces – cause staffing issues and in some cases, legal trouble.
Find here five preparation tips to help small business owners before cold weather sets in. Since they can’t control the weather, they can and should control their preparedness to speed response to adverse conditions, smooth operations, maintain revenue and support long-term business health.
First, protect your most important asset: your employees. Make sure your safety training and emergency planning are up to date. Train for fire safety, defensive driving, basic personal safety – avoiding slips, trips and falls, for instance – and facility evacuation readiness. Then make sure your employees are equipped to work flexibly from home, if your business model permits that, and know how they will receive weather updates from management.
Second, stay ahead of the weather. Many of our small business customers sign up for smartphone weather alerts. Stay abreast of impending winter storms so you can advise employees, customers and suppliers how your business is responding.
Third, prepare your business facility. Locate equipment so it’s protected, easily found and used without difficulty – whether that equipment is snow shovels and salt or your vehicle fleet. Inspect your building envelope for adequate insulation, secure doors and windows, clear gutters and secure flashing. Many of our small business customers are installing auxiliary power and generators to maintain uninterrupted electricity supply; extended outages have emerged as a significant problem in some areas.
Fourth, prepare your business operations. Institute a safety plan for your facility and test it with drills. Meet with maintenance staff to discuss snow removal, water cleanup on slippery floors, hazard signage and outdoor walkway maintenance. Accident costs are a serious threat for small businesses.
Fifth, connect with partners. Discuss inclement weather plans with staff, vendors, suppliers and contractors. Develop a communications strategy to let everyone know how your operations will change as a result of the weather. Will employees receive emails or texts or both? Should customers check your website? These are all to-do items that are essential before the weather turns.
Need help winterizing your small business? Call Paul at 844-215-7898 for more information.