It’s been a rough winter for many, one that’s not over yet. Who can resist thoughts of sprucing up the house, doing all those put-off projects and getting outside?
Business owners are no different. Glimpses of spring bring thoughts of getting stuff done! But the changing of the seasons doesn’t just mean daffodils and warm weather and longer days. While winter plays out its last few surprises, for business owners, this can be the perfect time to take on the business version of spring cleaning and sprucing up. Generally, these projects fall into four broad categories:
- Reversing winter’s effects.
- Freshening up.
- Planning for contingencies.
- New beginnings.
Reversing winter’s effects
Regardless of where you’re located, your brick-and-mortar is probably showing the effects of the past months’ weather, be it sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice, high winds, heavy rains or some combination. Take some time to assess the outside of the building and surrounding area for sticks, leaves and other debris and anything that’s cracked or broken, including sidewalks. It’s still a bit early to start repairs, but you can make a list and start lining up contractors to do the work if you need to. And while you’re at it, check your signage, your roof, your windows, and your entrance, to make sure everything’s intact.
And don’t forget the parking lot if you have one. In the North, Midwest and East, this was a very big winter for potholes! Have them fixed as soon as possible to avoid a major customer annoyance.
There are opportunities outside and inside for sprucing up. Do you need to repaint? Repair? Re-arrange? How are you going to make your customers feel like spring has sprung as they approach your business or walk in the door? If you’ve got display windows, come up with something extra eye-catching this year. Ditto for displays inside. How about a joining forces with other small businesses close by? Can you offer one big spring promotion together? A trip giveaway? Freshening up can mean not only sprucing up your environment but also taking on a new perspective.
Planning for contingencies
This is a crucial part of your spring checklist: Making sure your disaster preparedness plans are updated and in order, which includes business continuity. If you do nothing else, go to preparemybusiness.org, offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Every month, Prepare My Business hosts free, educational webinar courses in business continuity and disaster recovery planning. The webinars cover everything to consider and include in your written living plan, from communication to weather (including hurricanes) to employees. One critical point business owners can overlook: Sharing the plan with everybody else in the business and assigning individual responsibilities for putting it into action if you have to.
On a related note, get out your insurance policies and review them. In fact, if you haven’t gone over them with your insurance agent in a while, schedule a meeting now. Review your coverage and have it adjusted if necessary. The extreme weather and disasters of the past few years have caused changes in the industry.
And while you’re at it, make a list for things that should be checked out for wear and/or malfunction. Here are just a few:
- Have the air conditioning system inspected and tuned up.
- Check smoke detectors/sprinkler system.
- Check your lighting; is it optimal for your space?
- Check electrical outlets and fuse boxes. Have functional fire extinguishers in convenient locations.
Spring is also the time for new perspectives and trying new things. If you’ve been thinking about introducing a new product or service, spring’s an excellent time to roll it out—or at least test it. If you don’t have a customer loyalty program, start one now, or update your current one. Everyone’s mood lightens as anticipation for long-awaited spring months builds. It’s time to bring out your best new ideas—your customers will be more receptive than ever!
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net