How vulnerable are your business operations to severe winter weather?
Just like tornadoes, hurricanes and severe thunderstorms can interrupt business activity during warmer months, blizzards, ice storms and extreme cold can wreak havoc in the cold winter months. Beyond the risk of a power outage, businesses may lose their phone and internet service—preventing them from doing their usual activities and serving customers.
And business downtime is expensive. Research suggests that small businesses can lose thousands—if not tens of hundreds of thousands—of dollars for every lost hour of work due to an outage—depending on the business.
“Most small businesses rely significantly on their internet and phone to get work done, run their operations and communicate with customers,” says Matt Bury, Senior Director of Marketing and Creative Strategy for Spectrum Business. “So if they lose either or both of those services due to an extended outage, their bottom line can be severely and negatively impacted.”
Given these high potential losses, it’s in your best interest to take steps to prevent downtime and make your business resilient and able to continue operations at least partially, no matter what type of weather event strikes. Here are three key steps:
1. Create business continuity plans
Make detailed plans for how your business will continue operations in the event of a major power outage or the general inability of you or your employees to access your facilities. Think through all the potential complications and how you will address them.
For example, if a blizzard or ice storm hits and your employees are unable to commute to the office, do they have the technologies that allow them to work effectively from home or another location? How will you communicate with your team and let customers and vendors know your availability and how to reach you?
Make sure you and your employees all have copies of the business continuity plan that they can access remotely, along with key contact numbers for communications during a bad weather event.
2. Ensure you have reliable telecom
Losing internet and phone service due to a severe weather event can make it impossible for your business to operate. Everything from your access to key documents and software to your payment-processing technologies may depend on internet. Your customers may be more likely to call or email you during bad weather—so phone and internet service may become especially valuable at that time.
Businesses in certain industries must be especially mindful of their weather risks. Service businesses such as HVAC maintenance or snow-removal firms, for example, may receive a much higher volume of calls during severe weather—making maintaining phone and internet service vital to those businesses.
Before bad weather strikes, evaluate the reliability of your current telecom provider, Bury advises. Consider it’s track record. Last winter, for example, did you experience any internet or phone outages? And if so, how well did your provider respond to that event?
“Pay attention to how your current provider performs on an ongoing basis,” he says. “If you’re seeing outages even in good weather, it would be advantageous to evaluate other providers in your area, and be sure to ask plenty of questions.”
Here are some basic ways to help you assess a telecom provider’s reliability, according to Bury:
- Talk to other businesses, family members and friends in your local area to find out their experience with their current and past telecom providers.
- Ask providers if they can share information on how reliable their network is.
- Ask providers how they communicate outage information to their customers in the event that service does go down.
The important thing is to ensure you’re working with reliable telecom providers before that reliability is tested by severe weather events.
3. Maximize cloud solutions
Make sure you can access your key documents from anywhere, anytime. If you haven’t already, consider how cloud solutions—whether file sharing platforms such as Google Drive or Dropbox and online-based accounting software such as FreshBooks or Zoho Books—can ensure your business data remains accessible even if you or your employees have to work from home.
Spectrum Business Internet has over 99.9% network reliability—and requires no monthly contract. We’re happy to talk to you about our internet plan options and how we can help your business have continuous, smooth operations. Contact us at 855-299-9353 to discuss your options.
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