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OTHER FEATURES

The true cost of bad weather – can you afford to be unprepared?

We’ve been facing some pretty adverse weather recently. Gales, storms and terrible flooding in parts of the country have upturned the lives of those affected. 

And when the water levels finally recede and the winds die down, we find ourselves not only assessing the damage to our homes, but how it affects our working lives too. 

It can feel like an uphill struggle – from workers facing difficulties getting into the office, to catastrophic damage to dwellings and business premises. 

As a country, we try to maintain an attitude of ‘business as usual’, and for agents we know this is especially important. 

But often the communications infrastructure with which to do so simply isn’t there. 

Business continuity is an absolute must for the property sector – whatever the weather. Emergency calls from stressed-out tenants with problems such as broken boilers and water-damaged ceilings can overwhelm phone lines and emails once they make it into work. 

Many agents I’ve spoken to have said that they usually plan to work remotely when they can’t get into the office. This struggle is felt even more so for offices in rural and semi-rural locations. These same people are then troubled when they aren’t able to receive calls from colleagues and clients, or are missing too many. 

It’s at this point – or when they’re trying to get everything ‘behind the scenes’ under control – that they’ll need a contingency plan as they get themselves right-side-up. 

We’ve certainly seen an increase in calls from agents over the last two months which has coincided with the bad weather. 

In an analysis of calls in Yorkshire and the Humber, for instance, our property teams saw a 71.7% increase on December 29 last year – the first working day back after Christmas – when compared to Thursday, December 24. 

Weigh this against 2014, which saw a 44.8% jump in call volume on the equivalent day – a much dryer month.

The issues don’t end once the floods retreat or winds die down either. Repairs being undertaken to damaged infrastructure and buildings can bring their own set of problems. 

A workman who accidentally drills through a cable, for instance, and plunges an entire office into darkness while maintenance work is being done. 

Or, a railway line that’s shut for repair weeks after stopping staff getting into work. 

Operating in these circumstances is extremely difficult, and the effects – both financial and reputational – can have catastrophic affects for those who aren’t prepared. 

One recent report from accountancy firm KPMG estimated that the recent floods could cost the UK economy nearly £6bn. That’s a phenomenal figure, and something no business can afford to risk.

We’re no strangers at Moneypenny to the threat that unexpected weather can pose ourselves. In March 2013 we saw a particularly bad snow fall with some parts measuring up to three feet deep. 

Thankfully we were prepared – and with the help of a trusty digger – were able to quickly clear our car parks and access roads to ensure staff could get into work. 

We even had a small army of 4X4s ready to pick up staff who couldn’t manage the journey to the office. As a company whose clients depend on us to be there providing support, no matter what, we know that a solid and robust plan B is a must. 
 
Of course, we can’t predict the weather. So we never really know for sure when and just how bad it will be. But one thing is for certain; it will happen again at some point. 
With this in mind, it’s important to have a clear and resolute plan in place and to be prepared. 
Having that extra help in your back pocket for when things don’t run as they should can make the world of difference.

*Samantha Jones is Commercial Manager of Corporate and Property at telephone answering specialist Moneypenny

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