Unfortunately, it’s Epos Now’s customer base who have been the most affected, small and independent retail and hospitality businesses. Property damage, missed deliveries, staffing issues, reduction in footfall and stock wastage are just some of the challenges experienced y SMEs in times of severe weather.
What, if anything, can independent businesses do to limit the damage now and protect themselves in the future? Here are some things to consider;
The Federation for Small Businesses reported that two-thirds of the UK’s SMEs have been negatively affected by severe weather events in the last 3 years, costing them anything up to £7000 per episode. For some, there's no coming back from this kind of costs without insurance or a line of credit, which for SMEs is often difficult to secure.
It’s important to calculate the cost of staying open and weathering the storm or knowing when to cut your losses and batten down the hatches. When dealing with issues such as business interruption, flooding or property damage, premiums can get pricey, but if the worst should happen, it’s the kind of protection you need to secure a future for your business.
It can be said, there's no such thing as a snow day for the self-employed, however, your employees may be less committed to their perilous journey into work. Childcare and travel issues are often the biggest challenges to employers. Communication and understanding is the key to avoiding friction, so keep employees updated on your situation.
Unlike office workers, retail and hospitality staff cannot work from home. However, you could ask them to use the downtime as an opportunity for professional development, remote training or employee performance reviews. Some employers, like KFC in the wake of their recent supply chain disruption, choose to ask employees to take annual leave days when forced to shut. While this is unpopular with employees, it’s not illegal to ask. You can learn more about employee rights here.
When dealing with fresh produce, restaurants are particularly vulnerable to wastage during bad weather. If you haven't got a good handle on your inventory needs, it can be painful watching wasted stock go directly from the fridge to the bin. If this is the case, challenge your chefs to get creative. Bulk dishes such as soups and stews are a good way to get rid of excess stock and are appreciated on a cold day. Promote the fact you are open and push these special dishes. Obviously, prevention is better than the cure so think about automating your stock reports through your POS system. This will ensure you are never over, or understocked, protecting cash flow and reducing unnecessary waste.
It’s not all negative. Retailers with an e-commerce platform may even have an opportunity cash in during times of adverse weather. With a portion of the workforce stranded at home, many may look to internet shopping for some light relief. By connecting your on and offline stores with an integration such as Nettl or Weebly, you can easily manage your stock, track orders and create an engaging online shopping experience.
In times of slow footfall, why not focus your efforts on your online store, promoting your products through social media and email marketing. Using an integrated loyalty and marketing platform through your POS system allows you to quickly and easily send professionally branded content. Remember, adverse weather is infamous for creating supply chain chaos. It’s important to keep your customers informed if your distributor is effected.
Adverse weather conditions are being reported more regularly across the globe, with increasing ferocity. It’s important small and independent businesses who are particularly vulnerable to take precautions where they can. Fortunately, entrepreneurial spirit will see many business owners find opportunity in their struggle for profitability.
Managing costs and limiting the damage adverse weather has on your business is key to SME survival. Having an accurate and holistic view of your business performance afforded by an insightful POS empowers users to make fully informed business decisions. Get in touch to find out more about how Epos Now’s award-winning POS solutions could benefit your business.