Forward planning helps mitigate bad weather losses, says FPB

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have been urged to start planning for harsh winter weather to avoid being caught out by sudden cold snaps.

With snow covering much of the UK, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has urged SMBs - those firms most vulnerable to the impacts of snow and ice - to take additional precautions.

Robert Downes, spokesperson for the FPB, commented that disruptive weather such as heavy snow and unusually cold weather hampers deliveries, triggers heating and power failures, and can often mean employees can't get to work.

"Recent winters have demonstrated just how susceptible the UK is to extreme weather, and the cost to business quickly runs into millions," he stated.

"When infrastructure grinds to a halt and staff can't get to work it can be a body blow to small firms, and those businesses with the least staff are hit the hardest."

Be proactive to avoid losses

Mr Downes said it is "essential" for SMBs and micro-businesses to do all they can to mitigate the impact of the bad weather.

He claimed that being proactive now will mean not having to rush out a reactive plan once bad weather strikes.

"It can be as simple as allowing staff to work from home if possible," he stated.

"Do they have a computer, can they access their company emails? These are simple things but if they aren't pre-arranged they can't happen."

Making workplaces weather proof

The FPB has warned SMBs to make sure their workplaces are weather proof.

"Prevention is better than cure – something as simple as making sure water pipes are lagged could save a business thousands in lost revenue if it has to close because of flooding through a burst pipe," Mr Downes stated.

"Businesses need to think about their contingency plans now to ensure they aren't put out of action by another nasty winter."

According to a recent YouGov study, 37 per cent of SMBs have experienced problems as a result of snow and ice in recent winters.

Some 13 per cent of respondents said they were ‘seriously' impacted by bad weather.

"A high percentage of businesses affected by a major event never re-open, or go bust soon after the event," Mr Downes stated.

"This is often not due to the immediate loss of goods and premises, which is usually covered by insurance payouts. It's because the company's inability to resume trading within a short space of time means clients and customers go elsewhere, leading to unsustainable losses and potentially undoing years of hard work spent building the business up."

Posted by Dan Smith