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Weathering the Storm: How Extreme Weather Affects Cutthroat Barbers and Community

Hi, everyone! We hope you are all well after the challenging weather we've faced over the past few months. Running a local business in Houston has been quite the journey, especially with the increasing frequency of extreme weather events. From severe storms and power outages to flooding and physical damage, we’ve encountered numerous obstacles along the way. These challenges have tested our resilience, but through it all, we remain steadfast in our commitment to serving our community.

As we gear up for another active hurricane and tornado season, we want to shed light on how these conditions impact not just our business, but also our dedicated team and the community we proudly serve. 

Wind damage in houston
Wind Damage

Power Outages

When storms hit, power outages become a significant concern for us here at Cutthroat Barbers. Texas's power grid is known for its unreliability, particularly during heavy rain, strong winds, or extreme cold spells. These weather conditions often result in widespread power failures across the state. In recent years, we've observed an escalation in the severity of weather events, likely influenced by climate change. This summer, forecasts indicate an elevated risk of hurricanes and tornadoes along the coast, compounding our challenges.

To manage these power outages, we've implemented several backup solutions. We rely on headlamps and flashlights to maintain visibility, crucial for continuing our services. Many of our tools are battery-operated, enabling us to carry on with haircuts and services for our valued clients. However, our main obstacle arises in cooling our space during Texas summers, as our air conditioning depends on electricity. When power is lost, the intense heat necessitates a temporary closure until normal operations can resume. Additionally, Houston's vulnerability to flooding has also impacted us. Previous flooding incidents have forced our shops to shut down until the water subsides, resulting in significant damage and disruption to our business.

Ceiling Damage
Ceiling Damage

Storm Damage

Storms have indeed taken a toll on our barbershop, resulting in various types of physical damage that have required significant repairs. The most notable issues we've faced include flooding, roof leaks, and damage to our AC unit due to power surges.

Flooding has been a recurring problem, necessitating multiple rounds of floor repairs and furniture replacements. Leaks from the roof have also been a challenge, causing water damage and even leading to our bathroom ceiling caving in at one point. These incidents have required us to invest substantial sums, often totaling several thousands of dollars, to restore our facilities.

Managing the costs associated with storm damage has been a strategic effort for us. We maintain a substantial rainy day savings fund specifically earmarked to cover these kinds of weather-related damages. Additionally, we carry business insurance to mitigate the financial impact of larger-scale repairs. However, it's important to note that while insurance helps, high deductibles and potential premium increases mean we often rely on our savings as the first line of defense.

Customer Bookings

Severe weather events in Houston significantly impact our customer bookings at Cutthroat Barbers, often leading to a notable decline in appointments. Houston's reliance on driving means that when weather conditions deteriorate, many clients opt to stay home, resulting in a substantial number of cancellations.

While we don't have precise percentage figures, the impact is substantial enough to affect both our business operations and our team's income. Our barbers depend on clients physically visiting the shop, and cancellations directly impact their livelihoods and the local economy. This challenge is common among small businesses that rely on in-person customer interactions, particularly in service industries like ours.

To manage these disruptions effectively, we employ direct communication methods with our clients. We personally call or send text messages to inform them about rescheduling options or closures due to inclement weather. Additionally, we utilize social media platforms to broadcast announcements about our operational status during storms, ensuring our clients are informed promptly.

By focusing on transparent communication and adapting our schedule flexibility, we aim to reduce inconvenience for our clients amidst Houston's unpredictable weather patterns.

Community Impact

Several local small businesses have shuttered due to storms and weather events, which can be utterly devastating. At Cutthroat Barbers, we employ over 30 young professionals with families. Our mission to spread joy and foster connections becomes especially challenging during these challenges. The barbershop is one of the last meeting places where people can share ideas and make connections, when this is gone it exacerbates the loneliness epidemic that our culture faces. And makes it harder for the community to heal.

While we haven't formally participated in community storm relief initiatives yet, we've opened our doors to provide shelter to staff and clients without power, a gesture reflecting our commitment to community support. Looking ahead, we aim to enhance our role by actively participating in community initiatives, ensuring our barbershop remains a pillar of support during challenging times. We believe in the power of unity and community resilience, pledging to contribute positively to the healing and recovery of our neighborhood.

Operational Adjustments

To adapt to the impact of storms on our business operations, we've implemented several adjustments. One strategy is extending our hours to accommodate clients who need to reschedule due to weather disruptions. While this helps mitigate some losses, it doesn't fully compensate for the financial impact of canceled appointments.

In preparation for future storms, we've taken proactive measures to enhance our resilience. We've conducted meetings to develop contingency plans for our team, ensuring we're prepared for longer closures if necessary. Additionally, we've set aside funds to support our staff during these challenging times, prioritizing their well-being.

Looking ahead, we're exploring opportunities for business expansion into other neighborhoods as a strategic move to diversify our client base and minimize the impact of localized weather events. We're also promoting gift cards as a way for our clients to support us during disruptions and boost our financial stability.

Financial Impact

Storms have had a significant impact on our financial bottom line at Cutthroat Barbers. Each day of lost revenue due to decreased bookings amounts to several thousands of dollars, and the costs associated with repairing or replacing equipment damaged by storms can also run into several thousands of dollars. These financial setbacks can be extremely challenging for a small business like ours to absorb.

Regarding financial assistance, we have utilized insurance coverage in some instances. For example, we filed a claim for our AC system after it was damaged by a storm. However, the deductible we had to pay nearly offset the benefits we received from the claim. Moreover, the following year, our insurance premium increased substantially, making it less viable as a long-term solution for covering storm-related losses.

As a result, while insurance provides some relief in certain circumstances, we primarily view it as a last resort due to the financial implications of deductibles and increased premiums. Moving forward, we continue to explore other strategies to mitigate financial impacts, such as maintaining a robust savings buffer and exploring alternative funding sources to ensure our business remains resilient in the face of future storms.

Employee Well-being

Storms impact our staff significantly, especially those who commute long distances into the city. It can be hazardous for them to travel during high water and extreme weather conditions. Ensuring their safety and well-being is paramount to us at Cutthroat Barbers.

During power outages or severe weather events, we've taken proactive measures to support our team. For instance, when we lost power, some team members stayed at my house for a few days to ensure they were safe and comfortable. Additionally, our manager generously opened her home to team members needing a place to stay until the storm passed. These actions were essential in maintaining the safety and morale of our staff during challenging times.

In response to storm-related disruptions, we've adjusted our staffing and scheduling practices as needed. For example, on days when business is affected by weather-related cancellations, we've asked our team to stay later to help mitigate the financial impact and ensure that we can accommodate rescheduled clients as much as possible.

Easy Ways Community Can Help Local Businesses

  1. Shop locally: Choosing local businesses supports the community's economy and encourages growth.

  2. Leave positive reviews: Share your positive experiences on review platforms like Google and Yelp to attract more customers.

  3. Engage on social media: Follow, like, and share local businesses' social media pages to increase their visibility.

  4. Purchase gift cards: Buying gift cards provides immediate support and encourages future visits.

  5. Spread the word: Recommend local businesses to friends and family through word of mouth.

  6. Community support: Assist neighbors during emergencies, such as storms or power outages, to strengthen community resilience.

These actions collectively help sustain local businesses, contributing to the vibrancy and prosperity of the community. Here at Cutthroat Barbers, we continuously seek new ways to adapt and improve our services to better serve our community. Moving forward, we're exploring ways to enhance our offerings and expand our reach to meet the evolving needs of our customers, even during challenging times like these.

Your ongoing support makes a significant impact, ensuring that together, we can build a resilient and prosperous local economy for the future. If you need a haircut, please visit us at Cutthroat Barbers —we look forward to welcoming you!

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