It’s called a Polar Vortex — a mass of bitterly cold air that recently swept across parts of the U.S. nearly paralyzing some cities, including St. Louis where I live.
Not only did the frigid air descend upon us this past Monday, but the day before (Sunday), near blizzard like conditions dumped 10 -12 inches of snow throughout the area.
As Mother Nature had her fun, I watched intently hoping she would settle down soon enough so I could make my first business trip to New York in 2014. But she had other ideas. My Tuesday morning flight was cancelled 24 hours in advance with no booking options, so I grabbed my phone and started rescheduling appointments and appearances. Not all was lost thanks to technology. Using Skype and a collaboration platform, I was able to handle several of my meetings, including a doctor’s appointment.
A land line and a fax machine…
This whole experience made me think back to earlier days when being out of the office or unable to travel would have resulted in lost productivity and possibly lost revenue too. I remember loading up my briefcase with files anytime snow was in the forecast so I’d have what I needed to get some work done if I couldn’t get to the office the next day. The only real tools I had to collaborate with a co-worker from home was a land line phone and a fax machine. Oh and by the way, I thought it was pretty cool to have a fax machine at home.
Now not even a Polar Vortex can hold us back
A friend of mine owns hair salons. When the blizzard hit on Sunday, he knew he needed to close his stores on Monday. Even as recently as ten years ago, this might have been a monumental task. Someone would have had to collect all the appointment schedules from each salon so customers could be notified. But today, all his office manager had to do was access the salon’s appointment portal where all the necessary information was stored.
Unfortunately, some small businesses, such as restaurants and retail stores, had to close their doors for a couple of days because of the snow and Arctic-like temperatures. Many of these owners leveraged technology such as email and social media to alert their customers. One of my favorite restaurants sent an email notice to his customers that he’d be closed on Monday. The next day, he offered 25 percent off your entire bill to those who ventured out in the cold weather. What a great way to appeal to folks with cabin fever.
Something as simple as a major snow storm can impact your small business if you aren’t prepared. For businesses embracing technology and using it as a standard course of doing business, the disruption was minimized.
What’s your bad weather plan? Let me know in the comments below.
About the Author: Susan Solovic is THE Small Business Expert. Sign up for Susan’s Success Tips Newsletter and get your free copy of “Smart Marketing Strategies for Small Biz” ebook.