Beat the Beast and keep going

Features Posted 22/10/19
Vicky Lopez, director at De-ice, asks when the cold weather strikes what will it take to stay open?

The visit by the savage weather front in 2018 which became known as The Beast from the East provided business owners with some serious issues to address. So how ready are you to face the consequences when another bitter spell is forecast?

The freezing temperatures accompanying Anticyclone Hartmut between 24 February and 4 March, 2018, forced many businesses to shut temporarily, while those who struggled on faced difficulties from treacherous road conditions to power failures, but were at least able to provide their customers with some sort of service, earning their gratitude and relief. In a competitive world, it’s those businesses which do that, that stand the greatest chance of survival.

Companies that prepare for the worst of the weather can throw at them will stand out from the rest. That means coming up with a winter weather risk management strategy before the temperature plummets.

As director of winter maintenance solutions firm De-Ice, Vicky Lopez explains: “A strategy can pay dividends in the face of competitors having their service delivery compromised or needing to close. Those larger businesses that are either forced to shut down or choose to stop operating when faced with adversity are also the ones that – inevitably – make the headlines. Something no business ever wants to be tarnished by.”

De-Ice has long experience to draw on. It has been providing the South East (and the whole of the UK) with solutions to grappling with the problems of the British winter for more than 20 years.

Here, Vicky shares some tips for business owners about when to approach winter maintenance, suggesting a good time to start the conversation with a provider is in the summer: “Typically, engagement starts or becomes more frequent around July – following on from a period of review and reflection. During the summer months we acknowledge our service is not top of the list and other things take priority. However, the communication for us has to be consistent throughout the year to ensure that we can be as prepared as possible. Making the wrong choice when it comes to selecting your winter maintenance partner could leave you out in the cold when their service really counts. Conversations peak around mid-September continuing into October,” she said.

“An adverse weather business plan should be formulated and agreed within the business well before the start of the winter season.”

Once the decision is made to employ a company to look after your winter management programme, it’s vital a contract is drawn up, setting out the areas to be covered by the maintenance. Be honest with your chosen provider, so they can make preparations to ensure your business can continue whatever the weather offers. That way you avoid unforeseen, or unpleasant outcomes which require an emergency solution.

Vicky said: “A successful partnership means having conversations year-round, not just during the winter and the cold weather. It is vital for providers to know what drivers the client has in engaging the service, in order to ensure the delivery is what is required at every stage. There is little point in running a winter service contract based on only a few preliminary conversations at the beginning of the season.

“It is vitally important to work with a reputable forecaster, ensuring services are provided where and when required. Experience and strategy planning deliver time and again.”

Winter management means more than just spreading salt around your premises – although de-icing is an important part of the service, of course. A number of products are on the market which provide better results than salt. Discuss your requirements with your provider and it might be a case of trying out some different options.

Tips for beating the freeze

Don’t take the view “it can wait” or “it’s not a priority right now”. Short timescales put unnecessary pressure on all parties and can have a detrimental impact when it counts.

  • Engage with all involved with your winter maintenance programme, to ensure you are choosing a service fit for your business. Include all your requirements in discussions with your provider.
  • Research statistics and facts from past winters and assess what worked and what didn’t
  • Find a proactive partner – a specialist ready for any eventuality
  • Keep communication lines open, to ensure your provider can operate at full capacity and is prepared to tackle the winter on your behalf.

<a href=”https://www.southeastbusiness.com/assets/flipbook/2019/SEB1119/SEB11Nov19.html#p=20>Click here to read the full feature on Winter Management

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