By Jacquie Winiecki
Many home service providers work outdoors. This includes roofers, tree services, landscapers, concrete workers, construction workers, and more. When the weather affects the ability to work outdoors, how do you and your employees spend your time?
If the weather affects your ability to work outside, the first thing to do is decide if the conditions are safe enough for you to get to work. If conditions are truly unsafe, it is best to stay home.
The next step is to locate the inclement weather policy in your employee handbook. Follow the policy to notify employees of the company closing for the day or notify your employer of your absence. Communication is key, and whether you are the business owner or an employee, it is crucial that you communicate so that everyone is on the same page regarding a company closure or individual absence.
In some cases, severe weather conditions will allow you to get to the shop but shut down the job site. When that happens, how should you spend the day? Check out these 15 ideas for staying productive during the downtime of a downpour or other weather-related delay.
Stay informed. Pay attention to the weather forecast. If possible, turn on a television or radio so that urgent alerts are heard. In addition, if the inclement weather is only for a brief amount of time, this can help you plan the rest of your day. If there is not a TV or radio that you can use, keep an eye on local news websites or download an app such as Accuweather. In addition to providing daily, monthly, and even minute-by-minute weather updates, Accuweather can keep track of several locations at once and send weather alerts to your mobile device.
Inform others. A social media post should be made by the company stating that onsite work will be halted or delayed due to bad weather. Any customers that are immediately affected should be contacted by telephone. During this call, it is important to go over the weather clause in your contract. Keep in mind that once one customer is delayed, additional customers could be delayed and should also be contacted. This is called the “domino effect.”
Update your greeting. When the weather affects your business, it should be addressed in your voicemail. A carefully crafted voicemail can assist you in gaining and retaining customers because it shows that you care about their call and that you have a plan in place to reach back out to them.
Delve into detectors. Though a schedule should already be in place for shop maintenance, downtime is a great opportunity to locate and inspect all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Test the functionality of each device and replace batteries if necessary. Record the maintenance in the corresponding company logbook. It is recommended that the detectors are checked monthly to ensure that they are working properly.
Locate and look over. Find and inspect all fire extinguishers. Review when the extinguishers were last serviced by checking the attached tag. Check for any damage or corrosion, and schedule any upcoming maintenance. Record all information in the corresponding company log.
Spruce up the shop. Sweep up debris, mop if necessary, empty waste bins, tidy up workstations and organize and inspect your tools. Make a list of any items needing repair or replacement and be sure to remove any damaged items from your toolbox and dispose of them according to your company policy.
Clear the air. Literally! Check and replace furnace filters, blow out, vacuum, or dust any vents that appear dirty. Check maintenance logs and schedule routine service with an HVAC professional if it is due. If required, be sure to wear the proper protective equipment before tackling this task. If you are unsure if you need personal protective equipment, it is imperative to check with your supervisor before attempting any maintenance.
Declutter. Organize and dust shelves, throw away any expired or damaged supplies, clean out closets, check chemical and cleaning supply levels, replenish with existing inventory, and/or make an order for more.
Safety check. Locate and inspect all first aid kits. Check for any damaged or expired items. Cross-check all supplies with your first-aid supply checklist and restock any items that are running low or require replacement. Locate and inspect safety gear to make sure it is functional. Organize gear so that it is easily accessible. Review and update the inventory of items such as hard hats, goggles, and reflective clothing.
Equipment maintenance. Make sure that equipment is in good working order. Check levels and top off fuel, oil, hydraulic, and other fluids. Inspect headlights, taillights, and any additional lighting on equipment and company vehicles. Check tire pressure and wash the interior and exterior if needed. Review owner’s manuals for any further maintenance requirements and schedule any necessary repairs with an authorized service center.
Make light of the situation. Inspect lighting, fixtures, and cables around the office/shop, and replace any necessary bulbs that are burned out. Remove any damaged fixtures and dispose of them properly. Check for and remove dust from bulbs, and if required, replace batteries in flashlights or any other battery-operated lighting.
Fix up your files. Clean up old files and emails on your computer (remember to empty the trash!). Check for and install any required updates you have been neglecting. Schedule maintenance with your I.T. department if needed.
Brush up on business. Use the downtime due to weather to research industry news. Connect and share information on LinkedIn and other social media groups. Sign yourself up for relevant seminars, and update any online certifications that may have lapsed.
Brainstorm. Gather with your team and go over any ideas to streamline business when you can return to the job site. Participate in some creative team-building exercises to maintain healthy work relationships and increase productivity.
Tackle training. Hold an impromptu safety training session or go over any other procedures that should be reviewed periodically. Ask for and offer input on how to strengthen efficiency and morale in the workplace.
While this list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive, we do hope it will help you pass the time and help your home service business remain productive during severe weather. It is always recommended to check your employee handbook, follow any inclement weather guidelines, and check-in with your supervisor before getting started. Though weather delays can be an inconvenience, there are still numerous ways to make the most of your unexpected downtime.
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