Depending on where you do business, the winter season can bring weather that’s anything from inconvenient to downright destructive. The harsh weather can not only decrease the amount of foot traffic you might get, but it also increases the weather-related accidents that might damage your property and incur hefty expenses.
To survive the winter months with your business still intact and ready to bounce back in spring, you need to fully prepare. There are countless ways you can get your business ready for winter; some may entail a simple mindset change while others may require budget reallocations. Here are seven tips to prepare your business for the harsh winter:
1. Set Up Local Weather Alerts
By nature (no pun intended), the weather is unpredictable and can affect your area more than another. That’s why you can’t rely on just the national weather forecast segment of the news. Instead, you should set mobile alerts from multiple weather websites specific to your local area and follow them closely.
2. Prepare for Parking Lot Maintenance
If you live in a cold area in the northern hemisphere, the weather will inconvenience your customers and make visiting your establishment a challenge. One place to keep an eye on is your parking lot. If you live in a heavy-snow area, plan on how you’re going to keep your parking lot snow-free, either by doing it yourself or hiring a local snow plowing service. And don’t forget about frost and ice that might cause bodily harm where you might be liable.
3. Inspect and Repair Your HVAC System
When the weather gets below the freezing point, you’re going to need the heater to warm up the inside of your establishment and make it more hospitable to your customers. Before the winter starts, check your HVAC system, clean, and prepare it, so it doesn’t malfunction when you most need it.
4. Train Employees for Constant Cleanup
People coming in from the outside will likely drag in mud, snow, and ice with their shoes, which could pose a slipping hazard. Instruct your employees to monitor areas of heavy foot traffic in your business and keep it clean. You can also install a specialized doormat at your company’s entrance—that your staff must regularly clean and change—limiting the amount of snow and slush dragged in, cutting back on both cleaning time and slipping dangers.
5. Talk to Your Employees About Snowy Commutes
Snow and heavy rain can sometimes prevent your employees from reaching your store or office. Instruct them to immediately communicate with you if the weather is preventing them from coming to work or will make them late. You should also encourage them to leave for work early so they can drive slowly and safely. If your staff works in shifts, have a backup system set in place for when one or more employees call off work because of bad weather or sickness.
6. Review Your General Liability Insurance Coverage
Before winter hits, you should review your insurance policies and find out what type of property damage or business interruptions you have coverage for. Most importantly, you should review your general liability insurance coverage, as this insurance form will cover customer claims of bodily harm (such as a slip, trip, or fall) on your business property. Reassess the details of your general liability policies to make sure it still meets your standards or if it needs adjustments and make sure it covers most, if not all, of the possible winter incidents.
7. Create a Winter Emergency Kit and Extreme Blizzard Plan
In some places, blizzards hit suddenly and intensely, so you may find yourself and your employees stranded in your establishment until the weather clears out. For that contingency, you need to have an extreme weather emergency kit stored in a safe place inside your property. Your kit should include necessary survival materials such as drinking water, insulating blankets, a battery-powered radio, a first aid kit, three days worth of food, and a whistle, to name a few supplies.
Better Safe than Sorry
Preparing for winter may take time and money, but it’s necessary to avoid costly accidents or lawsuits down the road. Even if the first snow has already fallen, it’s not too late to make the necessary changes and limit your liabilities for the remainder of the season.