8 Steps for Preparing Your Business or Restaurant for Winter

8 Steps for Preparing Your Business or Restaurant for Winter

Many businesses have suffered expensive repairs, lawsuits, or other disasters simply because they weren't ready for winter. Winter doesn't need to be intimidating, though. Most of the steps you take in preparation for it are simple. You just need to remember and communicate them to your team. A few steps of preparation, and making sure your employees are prepared and resourced, can save you a mountain of headaches down the road.

Here are 8 crucial things to remember as you prepare your business for winter:

1) Pressure Wash Everything

Get your business pressure washed. This clears dirt, grime, grit, and who knows what else off your surfaces so that they don't get ground in by snow and ice. You know how valleys and canyons were carved by glaciers so long ago? Something similar can happen on a smaller scale with ice.

Grit gets trapped underneath and as ice freezes, melts, and re-freezes, it can move and rub this grit across surfaces. This creates scratches and gouges that make your business look damaged and in poor repair. Have your business pressure washed so that you can get this grit removed before winter sets in.

You'll also clear out mold and mildew that may be growing on your exterior. Mold and mildew are dangerous in and of themselves, especially when it comes to health codes. Beyond this, they both absorb a great deal of water. They expand when they do so, which means they can have a drying effect in crevices and corners. This damages exterior surfaces and materials, but pressure washing will clear the gunk off before it can do this.

2) Get the Roof Checked

A leaky roof can be a disaster in winter. Like a crack on a windshield, one element of damage in a roof can quickly spread out. As snow and ice melt, water can leak deep into the roof's structure. That water re-freezes and melts and refreezes again. Where once you needed a new shingle, now you need tens of thousands of dollars in emergency repair.

Getting your roof examined by a professional is one of the most important preventative measures you can take against expensive repair. Roof repair in the winter is a nightmare, it's expensive, and it often shuts your business down. Get the roof checked before winter hits.

3) Clear Out the Gutters

Gutters that are lodged with leaves and debris form dams against water. As snow and ice melt, this can create larger ice dams on your roof that hold back larger amounts of snow. This can have a weakening effect on your roof.

If the gutters overflow instead, all that water hitting the ground creates a small trench around your building. The water furrows it out. That not only looks bad, but it can be a very uncomfortable experience for a customer who walks under it when it overflows.

Make sure other leaves and debris are cleared off while you have someone up there. You don't want leaves trapped under snow. Leaves absorb water and can increase the risk of roof damage if they become trapped under snow and ice.

4) Have a Storm Plan

Your employees need to know what to do in a storm. Sure, they might know the basics for their own homes, but that's not the same as knowing what to do for your business. The responsibilities involved are completely different. Make sure they have a way of communicating about potential closures that everyone knows beforehand. You may also want to check availabilities before a storm so that you know who to call if you're shorthanded.

Communicate to customers effectively about closures, using social media as well as your store-front.

Every employee will need to know what steps to take in order to keep your business safe during the winter. If an employee forgets to salt the sidewalk, or two employees each think the other did, you're one slip-and-fall away from a mind-numbing lawsuit.

Make sure sidewalks are shoveled and salted. Ensure that someone checks on power lines regularly in heavy snow. Install fresh batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and test them regularly. Fire departments may take more time arriving in a bad storm, so you want as much warning as possible should anything go wrong.

5) Do You Need a Generator?

You can lose a lot of food and other items if the power goes out. If you have crucial electronic devices, make sure they keep powered with no downtime. Otherwise, you'll be throwing out thousands in supplies.

This also helps you keep your security active, your food safe, your employees and customers warm, etc. Customers will often flock to stores for supplies during storms. If your power goes out and you can't handle them, that's a lot of potential profit that you just lost.

If you use a portable generator, make sure it stays outside the building. Follow all the guidelines for its use to the letter. Generators can produce a great deal of carbon monoxide. The generator will be fine in the cold.

6) Have the Basics on Hand

The basics for a winter storm include snow shovels, de-icing salt, a push broom, jumper cables, and ice scrapers and brushes. You'll also need mops and caution signs for wet floors. Chances are you already have some or most of these.

Obviously, you need to keep sidewalks clear and de-iced. You also need to make sure all the water being tracked in doesn't become a hazard.

You will inevitably have a customer whose car won't start. They'll be happy you can help them with jumper cables or a portable battery charger — and you'll be happy they aren't forced to make your business their new temporary home!

7) Have Winter Emergency Kits

Every business should have a first aid kit on hand already. Make sure it's fully stocked and replenished if needed. A winter emergency kit has a few important additions. Make sure it has batteries, flashlights, a radio that's either hand-cranked or battery-operated, and chargers for various devices such as cell phones. It should also have a whistle or a noisemaker that can be used to signal for help.

People often forget extra toiletries, but these are very important. Ensure that it has some feminine hygiene products as well.

It should also have copies of business documents that are important. These should be kept in a container that is both waterproof and fireproof.

If you have an old cell phone you don't use, you can keep it charged and, in this pack, as well. So long as a cell phone can get a signal, a 9-1-1 call will go through. It doesn't matter if it's still on a service or not.

It's very helpful to have extra blankets and/or winter clothes tucked away somewhere as well. Have some food and water in these kits or be understanding if employees need to consume some of the food you use for your business in an emergency.

Make sure employees know where all of these things are.

8) Lower the Thermostat Overnight

The primary wasted expense for businesses in winter is heating. If there's no one present at your business overnight, you can lower the thermostat by a few degrees. Use a programmable or smart thermostat to warm it up by the time employees get there. Over the course of a few months, you can thousands this way.

Don't lower it too extravagantly. You want to make sure pipes and plumbing remain warm.

Is your business prepared for the cold months? Let Mobile Magic Pressure Washing help you and your business prepare for winter weather.