2012 Hurricane Season: How to Prepare Your Business

Jeff Kaliner
July 16, 2012
THE TALK... | Operations

According to the National Weather Service, conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean will make for a fairly normal 2012 hurricane season, meaning it will likely be a less active season than we’ve experienced in recent years. That’s welcome news for everyone, especially homeowners in coastal towns who struggled with destruction caused by Hurricane Irene last summer. However, the upcoming 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 reminds us that we need to be prepared no matter the forecast, as there were only six named storms that year, one being the notorious Category 5 storm that devastated South Florida.

Just like most home remodeling companies specializing in exterior home improvements, Power gets a good deal of calls from homeowners dealing with damage from storms that strike throughout the summer, but especially during hurricane season. From destruction to windows and roofs, to damage to siding and gutters, even smaller summer storms can create big issues to the exterior of the home, and an influx of calls from new and existing customers between June and November.

Below are a few ways to prepare for this potentially dangerous, and busy, time of year:

Educate your customers. Many homeowners don’t realize how much work can be done ahead of time to prevent serious damage during a hurricane. While the forecast is still clear, take the opportunity to share tips and information related to preventative measures your customers can take to avoid costly damage. Sharing simple tips such as how to clear clogged gutters and downspouts, protect windows with plywood and cover entry and garage doors can go a long way in not only saving them money in the long run, but also earning your customers’ trust as an expert in the field.

In addition to these tips, advise customers to beware of unreliable vendors looking to take advantage of desperate homeowners storm-ravaged areas, as it has been known to happen in the past. Homeowners are much more likely to give repeat business to companies they respect and the simple act of educating them can go a long way. Share these tips via your website, e-blasts or social media channels, or consider incorporating educational materials into your current marketing collateral.

Prepare your staff. Last year during Hurricane Irene, more than 50 Power customer service employees were on call to handle the expected increase in service calls from customers dealing with damage from the storm. That preparation paid off, and we were able to service more than 125 homes at no charge, limiting interior damage with quick response times. Not only did we keep existing customers happy, but also received overwhelmingly positive feedback and a good deal of repeat business based on that experience.

Help your staff anticipate and prepare for a significant increase of phone calls and inquiries before a big storm pops up in the forecast. By creating a strategy and blueprint for handling customer service needs that might arise during hurricane season, you can make your employees feel informed and confident—something that will definitely shine through in their dealings with concerned homeowners.

Think beyond November. Hurricane season isn’t the only time of year that you can help your customers and staff prepare for in advance. From extreme summer heat to brutal winter weather, depending on your location there may be other opportunities to educate homeowners on ways to deal with the damage Mother Nature can pose to their homes. Likewise, consider periodic seminars or training sessions for your staff to help them stay tuned into the customers’ needs and anticipate their concerns during every season.

Hopefully this year’s hurricane forecast is accurate and there will be little need to put any preparedness plans into action. Either way, it’s always a good idea to show your customers and employees that you are ready in the event of an emergency, and that you’re committed to protecting their home—often the single largest investment that most people will ever make—throughout the year.
 

Jeff Kaliner is a founding partner of Power Home Remodeling Group, the nation’s fourth largest home remodeling company with more than 1,200 employees and $135 million in annual sales. Power provides windows, doors and other exterior remodeling products to homeowners in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Georgia. Started in 1992, Power is a past Window & Door Dealer of the Year, as well as an Inc. 5000 company. Having served more than 50,000 homeowners, the company has also been recognized as a "Top Workplace" by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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