As a commercial property owner you need to consider ways in which you can protect your building from the difficulties presented by the cold weather – and in order to make sure your it is safe, you need to act now. Here are some simple tips to help ensure this festive period goes off without a hitch.
1. Check the piping
Cracked piping is one of the most significant winter risks facing any property, whether commercial or residential. Before any really cold weather sets in, make sure that all exterior piping is intact and free of blockages. Broken pipes tend to let water in, which can then freeze and cause the pipes to ultimately burst. This can be expensive, and it is often not covered by an insurance policy.
2. Remember to set the heating
It is likely that property will be empty for a couple of days over the Christmas and New Year period. During this time, make sure that the heating comes on at a low level and at regular intervals. Again, this will help to ensure that pipes do not freeze – and that the premises aren’t too cold when you return!
3. Consider security
Any empty period poses obvious security problems. It is important that the property is properly secured over the festive period, and that you recognise that this is a period of heightened risk. Make sure that all entry points are secure, and that your alarm systems are in good working order. Where practical, consider arranging a rota with neighbouring businesses to check on empty premises when owners are away.
4. Keep your staff informed
Your staff are always your most important asset – but this is particularly true during the holiday period. If you are going away while the business is still open, make sure that your staff have all the information they need. You might need to leave keys, access codes, contact numbers, and so on. Additionally, if a member of staff will be the last to close up the building before the Christmas break, make sure that they know how to operate the heating as discussed above.
5. Have any essential equipment to hand
Given the unpredictability of the British weather, it is sensible to have a stash of essentials on the premises. This might include a torch, spare batteries, mobile phone (with credit), shovel, and so on. This can help to ensure that you are able to cope with the most inclement weather and, hopefully, keep your the premises open.
6. Have a winter plan in place
As keeping the premises open is one of the main priorities during the winter, it is important that you have a plan in place to help you achieve this. This is broadly known as business continuity planning, and is a good habit to get into. Consider developing a written plan to deal with, for example, a heavy snowfall. This needn’t be complex – the idea is to ensure that you and your staff have a set of arrangements to help you ensure that you can keep trading in difficult situations.
7. Check your insurance!
Finally, make sure that you understand the terms of your insurance policy. Remember that there may be exclusions concerning the number of days that the premises can be empty. Similarly, remember that you may need to carry out certain maintenance and checks for your policy to remain valid. Make sure that you read your policy documents and, if you are in any doubt, contact your insurance broker.