Winter preparedness is something organizations hoping for a smooth operating season should consider.
People have long turned to The Old Farmer’s Almanac to let them know what’s in store as seasons change. While the almanac provides interesting reading, no business can operate on chance and sun spots, especially if the area typically suffers from a harsh winter.
Winter preparedness is important, and often means having a number of capable people already queued up to provide needed services — before the weather becomes a hindrance.
Determine Business Needs
The key to any successful strategy is to start with a full understanding of your needs, as well as consideration of any anticipated needs. A good place to start rests with putting priority on the greatest potential risk areas, whether that accounts for loss of heat, frozen pipes or the loss of building access due to snow or ice. No one can truly pinpoint how extreme the weather will be, but being prepared means understanding the potential.
If snow removal is something you think you might need, consider whether it can be handled in-house by cleaning off sidewalks and applying salt to limit ice build-up, or if you need to contract a service provider. If snow removal is handled in-house, now is the time to ensure that employees have the appropriate attire to protect them while they are outside. While you can purchase uniforms, you may also want to consider putting a uniform rental program in place, especially if your employees routinely work outside. In addition, keep in mind that employees and visitors alike will be bringing snow, ice and salt in with them on their shoes or boots. Having additional mats ready can help keep your facility clean throughout the season.
Other needs of equal importance are individual occurrences. For instance, you may want to have a service provider come in and perform preventative maintenance on the HVAC system before switching over from cooling to heating. According to Energy Star, this procedure often includes replacing any wearing parts, cleaning the heating system and changing the filter if necessary. Skipping this step could mean suffering an HVAC failure when cold temperatures put an undue strain on the system. This is a dangerous risk, since it could result in water pipes freezing before the technician can get the system back up and running.
Selecting who to work with is as important as knowing your needs. After all, making a bad hiring decision can result in more than buyer’s regret. Fortunately, the Snow and Ice Management Association has developed a comprehensive list of what to look for when selecting a snow removal professional — including insurance, experience, materials utilized and more.
Of course, this same level of due diligence should occur with any other service the business needs to fully prepare for the winter ahead. The reason for this diligence is clear: Business continuity should remain at the core of all preparations.
When selecting and scheduling a provider, it’s important to decide whether it makes more sense to engage in an as-needed arrangement or if the business needs blanket coverage. The approach you take will ultimately depend on the service and the likelihood that you will need service on a regular basis. For instance, the farther south the business operates will dictate whether it makes fiscal sense to contract someone to provide plow services automatically or only as needed. It’s also important to call out any specifics — especially if they stray from a provider’s usual service — as part of the contract. For instance, if salting all sidewalks is an important part of your snow removal needs, write it out in your contract. Likewise, if you desire service anytime your area receives more than three inches of snowfall, make sure it’s in the contract.
Make Preferences Known
While some services associated with winter preparedness are automatic, creating and posting a list of contact information for preferred providers at the business is always a good idea. After all, chances are you won’t always be present when the business needs some sort of assistance. Having a list available ensures that other authorized parties know who to call. This simple step is often the difference between receiving negotiated rates or suffering the costs of one-time service calls.