How to prepare your business for the holidays
Heading off to a holiday destination for a much-needed break is one of the highlights of the year for many business owners.
But holidays, especially over breaks such as Christmas, New Year or Easter also create opportunity for weather-related water damage, theft or vandalism when premises are left unattended.
However, there are measures business owners can take to protect businesses and business premises. Many of these start with careful planning, says Nicole Cox, QBE National Manager, Property Claims.
How to guard against theft and vandalism
“There’ll always be an increase in instances of theft during holiday periods when people are away from their business and close them down,” Cox says.
“Instead of winding down, some businesses, like retailers, ramp up over holiday periods and take on more stock and staff. Theft can become a larger issue because of these factors too."
Take some time to evaluate your security measures as this can make a material difference to protecting your business premises and stock from theft, Cox says.
“Make sure you leave the outside of your premises neat and tidy, lock up anything valuable, get rid of waste material and generally make the premises look regularly used.”
Lighting can be an important issue both outside and inside premises, so Cox suggests considering installing timers or motion sensitive lights outside.
Thieves are often opportunistic in what they target. In homes it tends to be jewellery or anything easy to move and dispose of. In business premises, cash is often targeted as well as stock, so don’t keep surplus cash around and think about how you’re storing increased levels of stock.
How to guard against severe weather and water damage
Holiday season brings with it the onset of severe weather conditions. At their worst these can become cyclones in some areas, but bad storms, high winds and hail can also be devastating, especially if your premises are empty for a couple of days over the holiday period, says Sam Morgan, QBE Property Claims Manager.
“By far our largest holiday period claims are all around water damage. That might be water entering premises through the roof due to storms, flash flooding or because of hail damage putting holes into everything,” he says.
Water inside a property may not, on its own, be significant, although it can be, Morgan says.
“But if your business premises are empty because of the holidays then you might not respond to water inside your property as quickly as you usually would, and this may lead to bigger problems that can do even more damage.”
Also, if you’re holding more stock than usual you may need to make extra disaster preparedness arrangements or rethink these arrangements entirely.
Regular maintenance and following up reports of specific maintenance issues is best practice, especially in the lead up to the holiday season.
Check your insurance cover
Always check your insurance cover reflects the volume and value of your stock over holiday periods, says Morgan.
This time of year should be a trigger to consider your Business Interruption cover too. How would your business survive if an event made it impossible to trade, he asks. “Rather than planning for normal business as usual, you need to think about what you need for this period. Do you have increased stock and turnover? What’s your business continuity plan should the worst happen?”
Top five business claims over the holiday period*
Theft or burglary 23%
Accidental loss or damage 19%
Fusion, breakdown or power surge 16%
Escape of Liquid or water damage 11%
* Based on the most common claims during December 2016 and January 2017
** Percentage of top five claims
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