Winter storms are inevitable and small businesses know that sometimes there is nothing you can do about the interruption to the day. Whether you and your staff can’t make it to the office or your customers are struggling to reach you, winter storms can make doing business impossible.
The best thing you can do is to prepare for interruptions by planning ahead and counting on one to happen. That way, you’ll be prepared in the case that one does. Snow and ice storms can really hinder your ability to serve your customers. To make things more complicated, you also have to think about your own family. You may need to pick up groceries when a storm is supposed to be coming or find a way to stay warm if your home loses power.
When a winter storm is headed your way and you aren’t sure whether or not you’ll be able to service your customers–let alone keep your home full of food and heat– it’s important to prepare for a possible interruption in advance. Take a look at these tips to prepare your business for a winter storm so that your reputation isn’t affected and your customers can still communicate with you.
Talk to your clients
When you work with customers from all over the country, they may not be aware of the weather conditions where you are located. It’s important to communicate in advance if there is any possibility of closing shop for any period of time.
Your customers will appreciate the notice and will understand if they struggle to get service during the time frame you advised about. Talk to your clients and plan on rescheduling appointments or consultations until the storm has passed in order to make sure they are informed. It’s important to notify anyone that works with your brand about possible downtime.
Employee contact info
Make sure you have updated information on how to reach your staff. You need to be able to reach them in case business will be closed for the day. Keep in mind your staff’s safety before deciding whether or not everyone should drive on hazardous roads to get to work. Can you work remotely from home for the day instead? Make sure you have your staff’s home and cell phone numbers so that you can reach them for emergencies or to advise if the office will be closed.
A virtual receptionist
More than likely your customers will try to call in for questions, concerns, or to reschedule appointments. Although you may not be at the office, your customers may not have been informed. They will call to ask if their appointment is cancelled. This is especially true for a medical office!
Make sure you have a way for your customers to reach someone for questions or concerns, because even though the roads me be closed, the phone lines may still be up and running. Hiring a virtual receptionist service that can help for situations like these can be a lifesaver. Your clients will be able to call in and get the help they need without needing you to be at the office to answer phones.
This type of service comes in handy all year round, but especially during times when your staff can’t be in the office. Your virtual receptionist can take the call when you can’t, making sure your customers are served, your staff is safe, and your professional image stays intact. Try finding a virtual receptionist service with multiple office locations as well. This will ensure that their own weather or server issues don’t get in the way of providing you excellent service!
As mentioned, it’s a great idea to set up ways to be able to telecommute from home. Telecommuting happens when people work from home, given that the power is still on, in order to stay online without traveling the icy roads.
Talk to your staff in advance about the expectations and how things can get done from home–from having access to a cloud where files are kept to having important phone numbers available for making important calls. Make sure your staff has internet, computers, smart devices, and other equipment at home to do their job from home if needed.
Backup your data
While you should be backing up your data on a regular basis anyways, make sure you really keep this in mind before a winter storm. A winter storm is Mother Nature’s perfect chance to cause your business to take a serious hit and wipe out your data. Be sure to back everything up in case of a power outage that could cause you to lose your data with client information and business plans.
If a winter storm is inevitable in your area of the country each year, it’s important to be prepared. When you run your business with the intention of a winter storm knocking out power and drivability, you go into the storm without breaking a sweat.
Get prepared now in case of a storm so that your staff can work from home, your virtual receptionist can take your customer’s calls, and your data will be backed up in case of a loss.