This week, on December 21st, we celebrate Winter Solstice. For all of us in the Northern hemisphere, we are experiencing the first “official” day of winter and one of the shortest days of the year. While some people find excitement for their favorite time of year and others are not as excited for the darker and colder days, those people with small businesses should be thinking about how to prepare for the true winter season! Although we have already had some winter weather now it is time to buckle down and prepare, if you have not already. All business owners should think of how to keep employees and customers safe and happy while maintaining business sales and services. Also, they should be taking steps to ensure that the business’s physical location is well-kept and your equipment is protected during these harsh weather months.
First, the most important thing is to have a plan for your business. Specifically for the winter months, your business can have a plan in case of a snow storm or ice storm. The plan needs to be communicated to your employees and then carried out by everyone in the business. Whether it is that you close due to snow or open later than scheduled hours, your employees need to know what to do in case these things happen; so then, the message is relayed to customers. Posting the plan in a common room for all employees to see and going over it during a staff meeting is a great way to be sure that everyone is aware and understands the plans. Continuity planning may seem like something that is frequently mentioned, but it is so important to be prepared and informed!
Next, we need to think about the weather. What happens if we get another one of those crazy snowstorms, like the one that hit NEPA this past winter? Business owners should be aware of the weather by checking the news and forecasts, this way if a storm hits they can make the most informed call on whether or not to open. Although we do not want to close for any extra days than need be, it is better to be safe, so think about your decision on opening and weigh the pros and cons. If you do happen to close your business you can offer some online sales or interact with customers via social media. This way you are still having a productive business day even if your storefront could not be open.
Then, it is time to inspect your building and prep it for the winter. Do you need to make any changes in case of a storm? Check for any areas that could end up causing damage to your physical location or equipment; look for leaks in the roof, cracks in your building structure, or anything on the outside of your building that could cause trouble with high winds or heavy ice and snow fall. Also, be sure to keep up regularly salting your sidewalks and shoveling if there is any snow. We want to refrain from any injuries to employees and customers or damage to the building or equipment and products. By being proactive in examining your building you can save from having to make major repairs later on.
These are just a few steps you can take to assess your business and its winter needs. By visiting this site, http://www.agilityrecovery.com/assets/SBA/wntrweathersba.pdf, you can find a “Winter Weather Preparedness” checklist. As well, you can get in touch with us at the Small Business Development Center for any help on planning for the upcoming months or any other business needs. Now it is time to grab yourself some hot chocolate, sit by the fireplace, and make sure your business is winter ready!
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center
Artwork adapted from freepik.com
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