Unless you own a ski resort or a roof rake company, an extra stormy winter is probably bad for business. If you didn’t follow these steps last fall, use this list to fortify your severe weather planning for next season. Because paying attention to details can save you major headaches, before and after the thaw.

 1. Snow and Ice Removal

Slick walkways and icy parking lots are huge business risks. And leaving your snow and ice removal plan to in-house teams may be opening the door to expensive lawsuits and business delays—not to mention hours of employee and equipment oversight.

Take pains to find a reputable, insured, snow-certified company for your snow removal and de-icing needs. Beyond that, draft very specific contract terms—including precise weather triggers, acceptable timelines, and service documentation/payment terms. During eventful winters like this one, when snow removal can become a full-time job, it more than pays to have an integrated facilities management firm oversee the relationship (including bidding and hiring) for you.

2. Ice Melt Products

Even though safety is a top priority, some methods of ice removal can do long-term damage to your concrete walks and ramps. Rock salt, in particular, can penetrate certain paving materials and will damage plants/soil quality in surrounding areas. Despite being fast-acting and inexpensive, ice melt products containing ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate are not usually recommended; they will eat away at porous stone surfaces, too.

So what’s the best solution? Different situations call for different measures (e.g. mixing salt with sand, and applying after shoveling or plowing is complete). To be safe, leave the job to a private contractor. Meanwhile, use spring months to look for bordering plants that tolerate high salt levels better than other varieties.

3. Interior Surface Protection

Sand, salt, and chemical ice melt can also do extensive damage to your interior flooring, while being unsightly in the short term. You should invest in heavy duty floor mats for your lobby, in addition to all doorways and high-traffic areas. You may even consider posting signage that asks visitors to wipe feet thoroughly. For hardwood, tile, and linoleum flooring, experts recommend commercial waxing. Waxing makes floors easier to clean, and protects them from any de-icing chemicals your employees or clients may track inside.

4. Weather-proof Data

Was your IT infrastructure prepared for this winter? Luckily, despite high snowfall totals, power outages weren’t a widespread issue. But next year may be different… and hurricane season isn’t far away either. Remember to back up all your files and update them on a regular basis. Employing hosted, off-site cloud storage is ideal because your teams can get up a running faster, post-event.

Experts also recommend installing surge protectors on your network appliances. In lieu of individual surge protectors, large companies should rely on building-wide surge protectors with battery back-up and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units. UPS units maintain optimal temperature and moisture control for efficient data operations. In the event of an outage, a protected power supply will prevent data loss and limit damage to hardware.

5. Communication Plans

Coordinate with your company’s senior leaders and department managers to create a fool-proof communication plan. Employees should know when it’s safe to venture into the office, and (when appropriate) they should have telecommute options in place, so they’re equipped to work from home.

What were your company’s biggest snow-related challenges this winter? How will you approach them differently in the coming years?