Is it safe to say winter is finally behind us?
For a lot of Canadian small business owners, this past season was one of the worst. In Toronto, February was the coldest on record.
Some in the eastern provinces even endured a snowstorm on the first day of Spring.
But before you put away the snow shovel, there are a few things it’d be prudent to do in preparation for the next Canadian winter and whatever it might bring.
David Rumer, the Vice President of Market Development at Sage North America, says that Canadian small businesses need to take time now to prepare for next winter.
And really, they should have a plan in place for any type of extreme weather: whether it’s unseasonably warmer temperatures in Vancouver that could dampen the winter months, severe storms in Ontario, or coastal storms in the east.
“Us Canadians, we have to embrace the seasons because you’re not going to change them,” Rumer said in an interview with Small Business Trends.
Rumer says small businesses should have two general plans in place: a basic emergency plan and a business continuity plan.
A study conducted last year by Sage found that extreme winter conditions negatively impacted about 25 percent of all Canadian small businesses. Rumer estimates that figure could be carried over and applied to this year too, in the absence of updated data.
Not having either of these plans in place will likely result in losses of revenue, profit, and productivity.
To come up with a solid plan, Canadian small business owners should sit down, assess their business operation and do a business impact evaluation, Rumer says.
Canadian Winter Preparations
Basic Emergency Plan
The basic emergency plan should be a catch-all for any time of year, even though, for Canadian businesses, winter seems to have the most noticeable impact.
Here are a few basic things any business can do to prepare for bad weather.
Retail locations should be amply stocked with ice melt and have a snow removal plan in place.
They should also have an emergency exit plan ready in case of a disaster.
And depending on the type of business, Rumer suggests business owners acquire specific insurance policies to cover against injuries or accidents that could occur.
Business Continuity Plan
For any type of business, physical or online, staying “open” in the event of bad weather is extremely critical.
Essentially, there is no need for a “snow day” if a business is making full use of technology.
Rumer says that having mobile access to customers can help businesses offer consistency of service even if severe weather has made it difficult or impossible to reach them physically.
For businesses existing in the virtual realm, there are measures that need to be taken in the event of severe weather, too. These include ensuring computer security and making sure the company’s data is maintained and safe in the event of any kind of system failure.
Create Then Implement
A great plan on paper is just that. It has no value unless it’s being followed by everyone in your organization.
Once a plan is created, Rumer says it’s essential that education and training are conducted. Make sure everyone on your team understands his or her role in the event of an emergency or crippling winter storm.
There’s no wrong time to prepare and get these plans in place, Rumer says. It’s never too soon to start thinking about next winter, either. And if you get stuck while figuring out your emergency plan, don’t worry. There are plenty of resources online and locally you can consult.
“When it comes to protecting your business, can you be over-prepared? I don’t think so,” he says.
Of course, there are some ways a business owner could misstep when making Canadian winter preparations for the next big cold spell. Buying too much insurance is one possibility.
But remember, Rumer says, “The best insurance is when you don’t have to collect on your insurance.”
Toronto Photo via Shutterstock