“Every mile is two in winter”, so wrote 17th-century Welsh clergyman and metaphysical poet George Herbert, and I’m quite sure many of our transport and logistics firms would say amen to that too!
As anyone who’s ever trudged through even a bit of snow knows full well it can be hard work and not easily enjoyed – unless, that is, one is cross-country skiing.
While last year’s snow made a great backdrop for Christmas photos, the unprecedented snow, ice and the ensuing chaos that followed I’d suggest George replaces two miles with three, four or maybe even five.
We all remember how roads slowed to a crawl, schools closed and workers battled to cope with the extreme weather as they fought to get to work. Travellers hoping to get home for Christmas were faced with long delays as the UK’s infrastructure proved unprepared to deal with the extreme weather.
Estimates of the damage done to the economy were vast – with the British Chambers of Commerce estimating that last year’s ‘Big Freeze’ cost the economy a whopping £1.2 billion per day.
And it seems we might have more of the same this winter with the weathermen predicting a return to sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall.
Yes, I know the weathermen and women do have a habit of getting things wrong – remember Michael Fish scoffing at rumours of a hurricane?
But, with the memory of last year’s chaos fresh in our minds – we would all do well to take heed and have a plan in place – just in case the predictions of another Big Freeze are true.
Whether or not you believe in climate change as the cause for increases in extreme weather is neither here nor there. Planning for the unexpected should be an integral part of your business planning.
Making sure your insurance is up to date, putting in place plans to enable staff to work from home and checking if your premises are winter-proof are all simple steps that you should take.
Also, bear in mind how these things might affect your cash flow. As SMEs know, it only takes a few unfulfilled orders, unpaid invoices or loss of productivity to have a knock-on effect on your cash flow.
Increasing your overdraft with the bank might be an option – but they still remain unwilling to lend – but with invoice finance, you can free up credit from the value of invoices and raise the money immediately rather than waiting 60 or 90 days for payment.
By planning for the unexpected and ensuring you have the processes in place to maintain good cash flow you can at least make it just one mile to travel this winter.