Severe weather is a part of life, and can affect how your business will operate at times. However, most companies don’t make a plan for how they will communicate operating procedures during inclement weather. According to a survey done by Traveler’s Insurance, 41% of Americans worry about extreme weather, but don’t have a plan before the storm. It is important to create a specific inclement weather communication plan for when and how you will communicate operating decisions long before the storm hits. If you don’t have this plan in place, confusion will arise for both employees and customers. Employees will be unsure if they are supposed to come in to work, and customers will bombard your office with phone calls asking if you are open. Some customers may even brave the weather so they don’t miss an appointment, only to find your office is closed. This confusion can change both your employees’ and customers’ opinions of you.

Basic Considerations of an Inclement Weather Communication Plan

When creating a plan for how you will operate during inclement weather, you should ask:

  • When will you make a decision?
  • How will you communicate that decision to anyone affected?
  • Do employees and clients/customers know what your communication methods will be?
  • Who is responsible for making and sending the decision?

Communication Channels You Should Use to Communicate Inclement Weather Decisions

It is important to note that operating decisions should be communicated through several outlets in case one method fails due to the weather, and also to meet the diverse communication preferences of your client base.

In addition to traditional media channels such as television and radio announcements, there are several effective communication technologies you can use to communicate whether you will be open or closed during inclement weather:

  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.)
  • Automated Phone Messaging
  • Automated Text Messaging
  • E-mail

Using social media to communicate an inclement weather decision is helpful and encouraged, but should not be the only channel you use, because not every client utilizes social media. Automated phone calls, texts and emails go directly to your clients, ensuring that each client is sent notice.

Make Sure Customers Know You Have an Inclement Weather Communication Plan

Once you have established a specific plan, you should inform your employees and customers what your inclement weather policy will be. Update your employee handbook, and let customers know how you will communicate weather closings by publishing your inclement weather policy in high-traffic locations such as your office, your website, within new-client documents, etc.

The last thing you want is to put the safety of your people in jeopardy. A well thought out communication plan for notifying everyone of operating decisions during inclement weather can keep your employees and customers from trying to get to you when traveling conditions are unsafe.

In conclusion, creating an inclement weather communication plan in advance allows businesses to:

  • Establish a process for how and when decisions will be made
  • Create a plan for how those decisions will be shared with employees/customers
  • Create multiple channels for communicating those decisions
  • Educate employees and customers on how/when to expect communications about operations during inclement weather

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