Many of us were caught unawares in the past week by the arrival of snowy weather. We heard the news announcements, but ignored the warnings hoping that it wouldn’t be too bad. So, what can small businesses learn from the battering from The Beast from The East.
Having your business ready for any eventuality seems like hard work, until of course the problem or event hits. Then it can be too late and instead you are left trying to muddle through. Here in the UK we are lucky, for all sorts of reasons but one thing we know for sure is that when the weather turns bad we know that it will affect us. Preparing your business in advance can help to keep it operational.
Whenever there is bad weather we see a flood of articles relating to what to do if you can’t get to work with some employees in fear of being fired. Our advice is to treat your employees as you would wish to be treated. Sometimes it’s just not possible to get to the office so instead of causing your employees worry, have in place a work from home policy. Ensure they can access files and documents they need to be able to work as normal. Office 365 allows for remote working with the ability to collaborate work documents through one drive or share point.
One thing customers don’t like is being kept in the dark. If you are unable to get to customer meetings or fulfil customer orders keep them informed of why this may not be possible. No customer can get upset or feel disgruntled if they are kept informed of progress. Meetings can be easily postponed, and deliveries can be rescheduled but the loss of a customer due to lack of communication is not so easy to replace.
Use the weather as a marketing tool. Take pictures of your surroundings and share across your social media platforms. Customers and clients like to see a personal touch added to business pages. Share news stories of disruptions or road closes in your area helping your local community. If you are a nationwide company share stories about how to keep safe, driving tips in the snow. Last week Lidl had a great advert for carrots. A simple picture of carrots and the strapline “Build your own snowman kit.” It was visually simple, current and funny.
If you are stuck and unable to get to the office or out and about don’t see this as wasted time. Instead use the down time wisely. Get ahead with clearing that backlog of paper work or by cracking on with your VAT. Being forced to take time out or halt what you are doing in business can be a blessing. So, use the weather to your advantage, take stock of your position and reflect on how things are going and whether you need to change direction. Slowing down is not always a bad thing.
Take the kids out to your local park sledging, let them enjoy the snow whilst it lasts. You may be able to use this opportunity to network with other parents or neighbours. And don’t forget to snap a few pictures and share the fun.
However, you choose to spend your bad weather downtime, try to see it as a positive rather than a negative. As a business owner your ultimate goal is to keep your business moving, your employees and your clients happy, even if it’s slowly. And if you already work from home then try to remove that smug look from your face as you sit comfortably and warm at home getting on with your work as normal.
Last week whilst the country was in shut down the Boffix team took full advantage and ploughed through putting the final construction pieces into our new website. We worked hard together showing that with flexible remote working and cloud computer we weren’t left slipping and sliding about in the snow.