As the well-known catch phrase from the popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” warns, “Winter is coming.”
The first sign of winter has come today with snow squalls and tempertures of -4 to -6 with wind chill in Southern Ontario. The long-term forcast suggests more severe winter storms than usual this year in parts of the country especially during the month of Febuary.
Forecasters have been wrong before, but can you take the chance? It may be time to start preparing your small business for a potential disastrous winter storm season — just in case.
Here are five things your small business should do right now to prepare for a winter disaster:
Get Familiar With Your Insurance Policy
Step one is revisiting your insurance coverage. Secure a copy of your policy for your records if you don’t have one. Small Business Trends spoke with Andy Wood, Executive Vice President of Retail Operations at Insureon, to get the low down on what needs to be done.
“At a minimum, you need to know what the policy number is and the claim number to call in the event of a disaster,” Wood says. “You should also have a sense of what your limits and deductibles are.”
Look at Business Interruption Coverage
Insurance that protects your building and equipment is one thing. However, you need to be sure you can get money for expenses to tide you over should your business operations be interrupted.
If your policy provides business interruption coverage, Wood suggests you should look at the elimination period involved. That’s the period your business will need to cover out of pocket expenses before any insurance kicks in.
Inventory Valuable Equipment
It stands to reason that you want to be able to tell your insurance company what you lost in a Winter disaster. Pictures of equipment stored on your smartphone are good. Even taking pictures of the outside of your business is a good way to make sure you have images of your building before and after any damage occurs.
Have a Contingency Plan
A contingency plan can be elaborate or simple, but you need to have one. You plan should include such details as where you’d set up a temporary shop after a disaster strikes. Another consideration might be where your employees can work from if disaster strikes in order to continue operations.
Wood explains why a plan is so important.
“A lot of the time with businesses like retail establishments and restaurants, there’s nothing you can do,” he says. “However, you can limit the impact by staying in touch with clients and telling them you’re not open at the moment.” Wood adds, you should also look at the possibility of planning to have employees work from home.
Protect Against the Cold
Some of the best things you can do to prepare your business for a winter disaster are proactive and physical. Cladding any exposed piping properly will prevent burst pipes and water damage when the thermometer dips.
If you’ve got a business in a remote location, it’s a good idea to have a backup generator. Guarding against power outages this way can protect a small restaurant from losing everything they store in a walk-in freezer.