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Saturday, 01 March 2014 00:00

The Cost of Weather

Written by  Katie Hultgren

HultgrenKatie
As this is the March/April issue, I can only hope that by the time this publication reaches your desk, the winter weather has moved out, and that conditions have improved. JAX FAX is located in Connecticut, where many residents are waving white flags of surrender because of all the snow we have received this winter. We have closed our offices twice due to bad road conditions, and several of our clients - even those in the southern states - have done the same. The best interest and safety of employees comes at a price though - with loss of revenue and production, and operating expenses that do not cease due to inclement weather.

In an industry that runs on schedules and depends on good weather for smooth operation, the costs have been staggering. According to FlightStats (www.flightstats.com), over the past 30 days (as of late February) over 55,000 flights have been canceled across the United States, and over half a million delays were reported. While some cancellations and delays may not have been weather related - most definitely were. The cost to United Airlines due to flight cancellations in January alone was sixty million dollars. Jet Blue reported similar results with a loss of thirty million.
Thankfully, the effect of this weather on smaller companies such as JAX FAX and most travel agencies did not result in losses in the tens of millions. However, during such events, we need to do everything possible to ensure that money is not the only thing lost. Our customers and clients need our support, even when our businesses are being affected by an emergency situation. If your clients’ travel plans are affected, they will almost certainly want to be in touch with you, regardless of whether or not the highways are closed, preventing you from getting into the office.
The best way to be ready for such a scenario is to have a plan in place, before you actually need it. Do you and your employees have the capability to work from home in the event that you cannot get to your office? Does your phone system have a voicemail where you can alert clients how to best reach you if you are not there? When weather reports suggest a storm, charge all laptops, cell phones, and any other battery operated devices - before the power goes out. On the eve of a storm, bring home all files and client/supplier contact information that you might need in the event you are not be able to get to the office. Backup any computer files that you would hate to lose if a power surge or building damage causes the loss of a
desktop computer.
If your clients’ travel plans are impacted by weather, they will be very grateful when you answer your phone, and do what it takes to help them make it to their final destination. Their future business and goodwill is a loss you will not have to suffer if you are prepared for when the weatherman turns out to be right - as he has been, far too often this year.

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