2013 Hurricane Season – Preparing your business in a Post-Sandy world

With the start of summer also comes the start of the 2013 hurricane season, and according to the National Weather Service, conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean will make for a highly active one between now and the end of November. For those of us whose business, family and friends were impacted by Hurricane Sandy last fall, that news is likely to be met with a sense of dread, as the damage caused by that storm is far from distant memory.

It should come as no surprise that Power, like most home remodeling companies specializing in exterior home improvements, gets a good deal of calls from homeowners dealing with damage from extreme 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.

Be prepared: Last year during Hurricane Sandy, our entire Warranty Service Division was 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 field nearly one thousand calls and schedule a record number of services, limiting interior damage with quick response times. Not only did we keep existing customers happy, but we 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.

Consider all four seasons: 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. Finally, if a catastrophic storm hits, consider a few of our tips about how to help your business and your customers recover.

Hopefully this year’s hurricane season will come and go without any major storm events. 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.

Asher Raphael is the Chief Strategy Officer of Power Home Remodeling Group, the nation’s sixth largest home remodeling company with more than 1,200 employees and $170 million in annual sales. Power provides energy-saving and environmentally friendly exterior remodeling solutions to homeowners in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Asher oversees the company’s overall strategic direction, which includes evaluating and directing new business opportunities, partner alliances, government relations and national expansion. Asher is also instrumental in the critical recruitment and development of prospective and existing talent, overseeing the company’s talent acquisition department.