No matter where you’re doing business, bad weather is bound to affect you from time to time.

Whether its traffic-stopping blizzard conditions, fog and rain or sudden violent thunderstorms, you can know for sure what type of wrenches winter weather may throw into your business plans. That’s why it’s more important than ever this time of year to plan ahead and use an answering service for your incoming call needs.

Here are three ways an answering service can help you come up with a winter weather plan to keeps everyone safe, happy and well-attended-to:

1. Create an emergency number for weather-related information.

In addition to having your main business line answered by an answering service, you can also have a line set up for winter weather emergencies. This extra line can be used by employees to report any incidents in the area that might make getting to work, or getting work done, difficult. For example, a service technician has a downed power line in his area due to a winter storm and has to take an alternate route. He can call into the emergency number to report the delay, and to update other technicians on the traffic change. The virtual receptionist can take the information and deliver the message to management so everyone can make adjustments.

2. Use a message delivery service for times when power – or service – is out.

With a remote answering service, receiving calls during a weather emergency or when the power is out is a piece of cake. Your answering service can take messages from incoming callers and deliver them via text to a responsible party. Or if cell phone service isn’t working but land lines are, you could have messages faxed or emailed to management. This way calls are never missed and customers feel supported even when lines of communication are down.

3. Use an outbound broadcasting service from your answering service.

With outbound broadcasting, you or your management team can place one call to your answering service and then have that message relayed to your entire team. This way, you can keep your employees informed about weather conditions that may affect your business day, such as a power outage. Changes in schedule, emergency procedures and other important information can also be relayed through an outbound broadcasting service. Setting this up with your answering service can not only save time, but help keep employees safe as well.