It seems like such a short time since Memorial Day celebrations marked the beginning of summer. Suddenly it’s almost Labor Day. How did that happen?
Of course, my fingers are crossed that the sunshine ignores the date for at least another few weeks, but Labor Day is always a sign that the summer is coming to a close. Soon we’ll be planning for flu shots, putting a fresh coat of waterproofing on our boots and, like it or not, entering the months of pumpkin spice everything.
Whether you’re savoring every sunny day on the calendar, or wistfully thinking of exchanging your t-shirts for sweaters, Labor Day is the first reminder that Fall and Winter are on the way. Bringing rain, wind, snow and well, who knows what else. This year, weather forecasters are already calling for a colder than normal winter and an active hurricane season.
So, while Labor Day weekend is a wonderful time for one last summer fling, it’s also a good time to review your disaster and severe weather preparedness. Here are a few tried and true tips for pharmacies to keep in mind.
- 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 running 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. If the power goes out, you’ll have no way to open the cash drawer without the 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 if needed.
- Invest in some basic transaction supplies. Solar or battery 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 ash 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 will help customers navigate aisles safely as you clear the pharmacy after an outage.
- Consider extra stock for best sellers. If you face a situation where deliveries can’t get through for a few days, will you have enough stock of your best-selling items to make it through? What about supplies that customers might need to purchase in an emergency? You don’t want to carry too much inventory, but take a look at your product movement reports to identify top sellers and make sure you stock enough to keep customers supplied.
- 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 be 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.
Finally, watch for communications from your vendors that might help you in the case of severe weather. At RMS, we often send out reminders for system backups and secure shut downs to make sure that your point-of-sale systems are prepared. And with 24x7 support, we’re here to help whenever you need us. Working around the weather is never easy, but having a plan in place in advance will help you navigate unexpected events and recover quickly.