Lessons Learned from the Costly Winter of 2014

The winter of 2014 was an educational winter, and costly. Perhaps the most important lesson it taught society was the absolute necessity of being prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws our way. This particular winter hit hard in areas that rarely feel the cold frozen grip of Jack Frost so profoundly.

The Economy of Winter 2014

In areas where winter is something people and businesses avoid its worst offenses, rather than experiencing in all its glory, 2014 taught some of the harshest reality — with Atlanta Interstate highways being transformed into massive parking lots, for example.

The total price tag of winter 2014 for the U.S. economy, according to The Durango Herald, is expected to reach $5 billion. This figure is not one that was lightly reached. It included several industries hard hit by ice, snow, and exceptionally cold temperatures and factored in critical economic considerations such as:

  • Canceled and Delayed Flights
  • Business Closings
  • School Cancellations (resulting in lost productivity in workplaces)
  • Traffic Snarls, Snags, and Standstills
  • Retail and Restaurant Revenue Losses (including lost wages for waitresses tending empty tables)

These aren’t small considerations. While the figures aren’t devastating as a whole for the nation, for some small businesses they were destructive.

How Can Preparing Avoid Painful Repeats?

Some businesses will have an easier time avoiding similar disasters in the future than others. There’s only so much you can do to plan ahead and prepare for rainy, in this case snowy, days ahead. However, including these things in your list of things to do can help your business during downtimes brought on by weather.

  • Develop a disaster plan for your business. Make this plan policy and make sure that every employee knows what his or her role in the event of a disaster happens to be. This should include a cloud-based disaster recovery plan.
  • Create an infrastructure allowing employees to work remotely. The ability to keep at least some people in your business operational when the weather gets a little too cold outside can increase productivity during downtime and avoid costly delays in key projects and among key personnel. Cloud computing and BYOD (bring your own device) technology within your organization helps make this possible.
  • Invest in the proper insurance for your small business.  Small businesses are more vulnerable than larger businesses to the whims of the weather. However, it’s important for all businesses to consider the value of Business Interruption Insurance when the weather takes a turn for the worse (ice, snow, bitter cold, traffic nightmares, and more).

The one things business owners today can be sure of is that there’s no telling what Mother Nature is going to throw your way next. Being prepared when bad weather strikes is winning half the battle to keep your business out of trouble.