Get Winterized: How Business Owners Can Avoid a Winter Slowdown

This post was created for and sponsored by SERVPRO.

Snowplow on Chicago streets in blizzard

Snowplow in a blizzard | Pixabay

Winter weather can mean a full stop to any and all business operations, particularly for those that are unprepared. Freezing temperatures, snow, and ice can throw a wrench into the gears of any business operation, but if a blizzard or drop in temperatures is unexpected, a production slowdown isn’t just likely — it’s inevitable. Every year, winter weather costs the economy billions, and business owners who don’t take the threat seriously are more often than not the most deeply affected.

It’s not just the fact that your employees will have a hard time getting to work, which will impact productivity. You’ll also be dealing with the potential of winter storm damage (flooding, wind damage, possible mold), logistical slowdowns, and damage to your business’ assets. Business owners need to give some serious thought to winterization, as ignoring the threat of winter weather can cost you thousands, if not millions, in the event of an unexpected blizzard or temperature drop.

But, where to start? There are numerous things to consider when thinking winterization. You’ll need to plan carefully, and make sure each and every employee knows what to do when winter’s icy hand bears down.

Think logistically

The worst thing that can happen to your business, aside from compromising the physical safety of yourself and your staff, is a complete shutdown due to severe weather. Winter weather poses unique threats to businesses, as you’re not only dealing with high levels of moisture and precipitation but also the element of freezing temperatures. That means that it’s not just the physical capital and assets you need to worry about, it’s your business operations as well.

What do you need to keep your business running in the event of an unexpected freeze or snowfall? Give that some thought. If you go into the winter months unprepared, the unexpected can and will strike, given enough time. Are your vehicles ready for snowy streets? What if ice takes down local power grids — can your inventory survive without backup generators?  Think about the logistics of your business, and what’s at risk in the event of a blizzard.

Protect your assets

If you live in a northern climate, chances are you’re accustomed to freezing temperatures and cold weather during the winter months. But don’t take anything for granted; as autumn sets in, start making the rounds and making sure all of your equipment, vehicles, and other physical assets are ready for the cold winter months. Make this a yearly or annual item on your checklist — protecting your business’ assets now can save you thousands down the road.

Make sure your building’s electronic and plumbing systems are protected and insulated from the cold, as both are particularly vulnerable to freezes and malfunctions. The last thing you need are burst pipes shutting your business down, and the need for flooding and mold cleanup. Also, if your electronic systems go down, you’re potentially looking at fire hazards and lost productivity.

Make the rounds before the first snow, and see what loose ends, in terms of winterization, you can shore up.

Have a contingency plan

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much planning and preparation you do — Mother Nature is going to have her way. In the event that your business is affected by severe winter weather, the best and most important thing you can do is to ensure the physical safety of you and your employees. Make sure everyone either stays home or is safe at work, with plenty of food, water, batteries, blankets, and any other necessities.

Other than that, you’ll need to have an idea of where to turn and who you can call to get your business back up and running as soon as possible. If your business isn’t operating, you’re losing money, and the longer you let any storm damage go unchecked, the more it’s going to cost you in the end. Melting snow and ice can seep into buildings and machinery, leading to mold issues and crippling critical electronic and plumbing systems.

Know who to reach out to in the event that a severe winter storm does bear down, and trust that they can get to you fast and efficiently. There are teams who specialize in helping business get back on their feet fast — utilize them.