Lessons Learned from a Leaky Roof

Last Saturday, a heavy rain began falling in the Washington, DC area (where I live).   By the next morning, the rain – thanks to a roof leak — had soaked part of the interior of a store owned by my entrepreneurial husband.

Clearly, this was a problem.  It didn’t matter that it was Sunday morning, at an hour when many people were sipping their first cup of coffee or getting ready for church.  When you have a business, the problems don’t seem to care what time it is.

So we threw on some old clothes, and off we went to the store.

It wasn’t pretty.  Rainwater ran into trashcans, plastic drinking cups and other assorted receptacles.  To make matters worse, the water dripped perilously near the wiring used to operate telephones and computers, threatening to short out those systems.

Despite the situation, the store opened that morning.  Thankfully, employees could run credit card charges and the computerized inventory system worked. Customers shopped and, more importantly, bought. In the end, business wasn’t half bad (for a rainy day, anyway).

What takeaways does this soggy experience offer for business owners?  Here are a few:

Have a Plan B –Make sure you have backup systems in place to operate critical functions in this type of situation.

Be proactive — Don’t wait until a problem occurs to try to line up these systems!

Communicate – Let employees and customers know what you’re doing to address the problem.

Keep providing great service – If you treat customers well, and deliver what they need, they’ll be more inclined to overlook the inconvenience of a temporary physical problem.

Step up to the plate — Don’t ask other employees to do what you’re not willing to do.  Roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Finally, remember the old adage about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  When it rains, it pours — but the sun comes out, eventually.  When it does, you’ll appreciate it even more.

About Lynne Strang

I'm a freelance writer who helps organizations and individuals meet their marketing and communications goals. I am also the author of "Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: Eight Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40." To learn more, please visit my website: lynnebeverlystrang.com.
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4 Responses to Lessons Learned from a Leaky Roof

  1. “Keep providing great service – If you treat customers well, and deliver what they need, they’ll be more inclined to overlook the inconvenience of a temporary physical problem.”
    I don’t think I would hold a problem like rain against my vendors, I would sympathize with the problem and probably not remember it months later. That’s life. So sorry you had to go through all that. I do remember though my principal called me the day after Christmas because the department had flooded. (1) Despite the inconvenience I’m glad she told me in a timely fashion (2) I was impressed that even she was dressed to help clean up the mess. She was a great leader.

  2. lbstrang says:

    Maybe that point should read: don’t let the situation distract you from focusing on the customer. Thanks for commenting.

  3. What a tough situation. I’m glad to hear that all worked out and that customers continued to visit. Have you made any changes to your back-up plans as a result of this situation?

  4. lbstrang says:

    For now, the ones in place seem to work pretty well — but they could change to accommodate new situations that come up in the future.

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