Snow Day - What to do as a business owner
I'm from Portland, Oregon which is in the Pacific Northwest. For those not familiar with our area, we get rained on a lot, especially in the winter. So when snow is in the forecast, it does create quite a stir, since the city (and it's residents) are not quite as prepared for a snow event.
(The above picture shows what happened last year as a snowstorm his the Portland metro area.)
So while city emergency managers and planners are proactively trying to get ahead of this snow event by releasing schools early so that parents will be able to get to their children on time and advising people to stay off the roads if you can, what can you as a business owner do for your customers?
1.) Be Proactive on Social Media
If you have social media accounts, be proactive in using them to alert your customers (and vendors, employees, clients, etc) as to what your plans are. Are you closing early so that you can let your employees get home safely? Are you staying open longer so that those stranded or waiting for the traffic to clear can come in? Are appointments being cancelled or are meetings being redirected to online options? Are you running a "Snow Day Special" either online or in store. Let your audience know what you are doing.
2.) Be Safety Conscious
As someone who worked in emergency dispatch for a long time, I can tell you that when the snow comes down, so do people. Falls on pavement are an ever present problem due to the snow and ice. As a business owner, you need to take proactive steps to ensure that your customers do no injure themselves in and around your place of business. While I am not a lawyer, nor am I giving out legal advice, it is prudent to make sure that you have done something things in advance to make sure that people cannot get hurt. Place deicing salt along walkways and especially outside doors and on sidewalks. If there is snow blocking a sidewalk, make sure to shovel or sweep it away and keep the path clear. If you have a entry rug for people to wipe their feet off, make sure that it stays flat and doesn't bunch up, causing a trip hazard. As people walk in your business, make sure to identify and dry up wet spots on the floor from melting snow, thus preventing falls.
3.) Employee Safety
As a business owner, your employees are your number one asset, so make sure that you take care of them. Ultimately it is your decision if you want to release your employees early to let them get home in time before a snow event begins. It is important to understand that that may be what everyone else is thinking as well which can lead to near standstill traffic jams along highways and roadways. Make sure to put out preparedness tips for your employees to carry proper winter weather items with them and encourage telecommuting options if you have them available.
As I finished writing this, the local Portland Weather Service office pushed out that the Portland Metro area is expecting 3-7 inches of snow. While snow days are fun, they can be nightmares without proper planning. While we are hours away from this happening, if you can do things now to let your employees and customers know what your plans are, it is better than nothing. ENJOY THE SNOW!