It’s essential for leadership to take incoming weather threats seriously.
If not, there is the very real risk for huge revenue losses, crippling facility damage, staff and operational turmoil, and compromised customer service, all of which could put the company’s future at risk.
The question isn’t so much, “Will my facility be disrupted by weather?” as, “When will my facility be disrupted by weather?” Even in areas with mild climates, the unexpected is a regular occurrence.
Why put your bottom line in such danger when you can be proactive and put your business in an advantageous position? Leadership is supremely important when dealing with weather-related outages — as it goes, so will your business’ status during an unplanned disruption.
Despite improvements in weather forecasting in the past decade, there is still risk when storms happen. Rather than being caught off guard, use these four strategies to prepare your facility for what’s coming:
Every enterprise needs to prepare a thorough disaster plan that establishes protocols for staff, operations, supplies, and services. This plan should be comprehensive enough to apply to any kind of business interruption, be it weather, power loss, evacuation, road closures, missed shipments, etc.
It should also be focused enough to provide real guidance and direction in the event of chaos. Make sure this plan is widely shared, practiced, and available even if your primary location is inaccessible.
Communication is essential before, during, and after a severe weather event. Unfortunately, making calls, sending emails, or even meeting face-to-face may all be impossible during a disaster.
Explain to your staff when, where, and how to exchange information, and have multiple backup communication plans in place. You should also establish clear hierarchies and contact trees so nobody in your organization gets left in the dark.
The supplies you need and the service you require to endure a weather event may not be available once that event is on the horizon or underway.
Supplies can be something as small as a snow shovel and rock salt, or as significant as boards and tools to cover your windows and doors, or a generator to provide backup power. Have as many of these items nearby as possible, including food, water, or extra fuel for your generator.
If the “gear” you need is service, make sure vendors are available to support you during an emergency.
If your business is disrupted, it’s quite likely surrounding shops and residents are, too. Rather than adopting an “every person for himself” mentality, look for ways to use your facilities, resources, staff, and expertise to help with the disaster effort.
This is a welcome demonstration of corporate citizenship that can not only help build goodwill for your business, but can also keep your company in the public’s mind for patronization when the weather clears up.
Your goal whenever weather affects facilities, operations, staff, or supply chain is to maintain business continuity. If you must close, your aim should be to stay closed only until it’s safe to resume working. You don’t want to invite unnecessary risks, but you also don’t want to be overly cautious and damage your reputation or growth potential as a result of an unexpected storm.
The only way to marshal the suitable response is to act early and appropriately based on extensive plans and protocols. If any aspect of your business is unprepared for the next blizzard, hurricane, flood, or fire, now is the time to shore up your defenses. Organizations that embrace a culture of preparedness can keep any disruption, no matter its form, from turning into a disaster.
No matter when or where the next storm happens, forethought, technology, and tenacity in preparation eliminates the need to guess if or when. This way, when it happens, despite timing or location, leaders can operate from a position of strength in a time of vulnerability.
About the Author:
Dave Gorham is Senior Meteorologist at StormGeo
He is a former U.S. Air Force meteorologist with expertise in aviation meteorology and severe weather.
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