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8 Strategies to Prep Your Small Business for Cold Weather Dangers

January 3, 2019

5 min read

Protect your property, people, and profits from cold weather dangers.

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As a small business owner, you look out for your property, people, and profits when temperatures drop and snow piles up.

You’ll need more than space heaters, shovels, and salt to thrive this winter. Use these 8 strategies to prep your small business for cold weather dangers.

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Part 1: Protect Your Property

Strategy 1: Order a Roof Inspection

When snow and ice accumulate, ignored or unnoticed problems could lead to a roof collapse. A full roof replacement could cost anywhere from $2,000 to $12,000 (or more), and that doesn’t include revenue lost to business stoppage and damaged inventory.

This isn’t a simple matter of profits, either. If a roof collapses during business hours, falling ice and snow could hurt your employees and customers.

Prices for a roof inspection start out at $200 to $400, but that figure varies based on the style and size of the roof. You can’t put a price on safety for your employees and customers, though.

Strategy 2: Prevent Frozen Pipes

If a pipe bursts at your business, expect to pay between $1,078 and $4,093 to repair water damage and between $351 and $1,765 to install or replace new pipes.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety® recommends the following steps to prevent frozen pipes during the winter:

  • Use caulk or insulation to seal all openings on exterior walls.
  • Insulate every opening that feeds into the attic.
  • Keep faucets set to a drip during extreme cold.
  • Set up notifications for your building’s temperature dropping below a certain level.
  • Insulate the pipes that are most likely to freeze.
  • Use wireless sensors to monitor the main water line.
  • Check your sprinkler system for failing pipes.
  • Install a back-up power source to make sure heat stays on through a power outage.

Consult your local HVAC professionals, plumbers, electricians, and other contractors as you move forward with these steps.

Strategy 3: Clear Sidewalks and Plow Parking Lots

You’ll avoid wear and tear on your body by hiring someone to handle plowing, salting, shoveling, and snow-blowing at your business. You may not mind doing this work, and it doesn’t take an in-depth plan to clear sidewalks.

However, you need proper coverage to plow your own lot. If you operate a snowplow, talk to your local Pekin Insurance agent about a commercial auto policy with proper liability limits. You’ll work in dangerous conditions, so you’ll need coverage amounts for possible accidents involving the truck, your property, and the property of employees and customers.

A personal auto policy would not cover a snowplow used for business purposes. If you have employees do any of the work described above (plowing, salting, shoveling, snow-blowing), protect them and your business with Workers Compensation coverage. In the event of an accident, Workers Compensation will help pay your employees’ medical bills, and it could reduce the chance of employees filing claims against you.



Part 2: Protect Your People

Strategy 4: Create a Snow Day Communication Plan

You don’t want your employees finding out the business is closed after they drive through a blizzard. When you’re unable to open, send your staff a group text early in the morning: “We’re closed today. Stay home. Let me know if you have any questions.”

Work with a vendor to set up a weather hotline. In this scenario, your employees would call a toll-free number to find out if the business is open.

To let your customers know you’re closed, you should:

  • Post updates on your social media channels.
  • Call in to update your business’s voicemail message.
  • Use an away message for your work email.

Strategy 5: Fight the Flu

The Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) says U.S. employers collectively lose $530 billion per year from lost productivity due to illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season usually starts in October and hits its peak between December and February.

The flu shot is the best defense against the mutating flu virus. Your business’s insurance might cover flu shots for employees, but if it doesn’t, consider paying for the shots or bringing nurses in to administer the shots every year.

Strategy 6: Create a Work From Home Policy

You don’t want employees risking their lives when dangerous weather hits. Working from home isn’t a possibility in every industry, but this might be an option for your business.

Workable offers a sample work from home policy that addresses potential issues such as:

  • Cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
  • Having the necessary set-up (software, internet, equipment) to work from home.
  • Collaboration continuing as designed.
  • And much more.

Part 3: Protect Your Profits

Strategy 7: Develop a Digital Plan

Your customers like staying inside when winter arrives. This could freeze your bottom line faster than Jack Frost.

If you sell goods, you can rely less on foot traffic by:

  • Opening an online store so revenue doesn’t dry up.
  • Using emails to send seasonal specials to your clients.
  • Creating digital coupons that are effective only during the winter.

If you run a restaurant, think about setting up online ordering and delivery. Talk to Sauk Valley Insurance to ensure you have enough commercial auto coverage for your delivery vehicles.

Strategy 8: Strengthen the Supply Chain

A winter storm could knock an important delivery off course. This won’t increase customer satisfaction, retention, or profitability because you can’t sell items you don’t have.

Strengthen your supply chain by:

  • Developing great relationships with multiple suppliers.
  • Staying in constant communication with your suppliers and letting them know they are an essential part of fulfilling your business goals.
  • Having a back-up plan when a supplier can’t come through for you (in other words, don’t rely on a single supplier).

According to manufacturing.net, you should keep a close eye on these supply chain components:

  • Economic order quantity
  • Reorder point
  • Inventory turnover ratio
  • Days of supply

If you follow these 8 strategies, you can worry less about the ice and snow that threaten to freeze your momentum. As you plan for success this winter, don’t forget to review your coverages and liability limits with Sauk Valley Insurance.