October is probably my favorite month of the year. I love Fall weather and everything that comes with it. (Except for pumpkin spice lattes. Those I can live without.) One of my favorite Fall events is our family trip to the pumpkin patch. Hay rides, corn mazes and picking out the most gigantic pumpkin that my more sensible half will let me buy.
This year, for the first time in memory, I’ll be making my trip to the pumpkin patch without a 90% chance of looking like a drowned rat by the time we get home. In other words, there’s still sunshine in Washington in early October this year. Definitely weird, but I’ll take it.
Despite the unusually clement weather here, to quote my favorite Game of Thrones family, “Winter is Coming”. It’s time to start making sure that emergency supplies are stocked and plans are in place to handle whatever storms the coming season might throw at us.
Here are our top tips for preparing your pharmacy so that you can continue to help your customers in less than ideal circumstances.
- Make sure all of your computers are on functioning battery backups. A good battery backup should give you about 10 minutes of continued use when the power goes down. However, this doesn’t mean that you should keep ringing transactions until the screen goes black. The battery backup should allow you to finish whatever transaction you are working on and then use the proper steps to safely shut down your PC. This will help you to avoid power surges that could damage your system.
- Know where the keys to your cash drawers are. Most cash drawers are receipt printer driven, so if the power goes out, you’ll have no way to open the cash drawer without they keys. Double check to make sure you have working keys to all of your cash drawers so that they can be manually opened as needed.
- Call your credit card processor to discuss emergency processing options. Your processor can provide you with phone numbers for each network’s voice authorization so that you can verify credit card transactions.This way, if the internet or power fails, you still have an option to process credit cards.
- Invest in some basic transaction supplies. Solar or batter powered calculators and receipt books are a must for when the power goes out. It may seem old fashioned but it may very well be the only way you’ll have to document sales and help clerks to stay accurate and accountable. When the power comes back on, you’ll be able to run all of these transactions through the POS to keep inventory and cash balancing accurate. You may also want to consider assigning each clerk with a specific drawer to work out of in case of shortages.
- Stock up on emergency supplies. Expecting the unexpected can help to keep your staff and customers safe. Having some solar or battery powered lanterns to light the store if the lights go out can at a minimum help customers to safely navigate out of the store.
- Run daily backups of your point-of-sale system. No matter how well you prepare, sometimes severe weather gets the best of your computers. Getting back to normal after a power outage is just as important as being there to help your customers during the outage. However, you won’t e able to do this if you don’t have a good backup to help you recover from a system failure. The good news is backups are crazy-easy to set up. Just get a couple of USB flash drives, and then contact RMS to have the automated backup set to run each night. Every day before you leave the store, swap the drives and take yesterday’s backup with you or place it in a fireproof/waterproof safe.
It’s never ideal to have to work around inclement weather but having a plan in place in advance will help you navigate unexpected events and recover quickly.