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Smaller Companies Powerless -- in Outages

Smaller companies apparently experience power outages pretty frequently, according to a recent survey. But when it comes to some sort of back up power systems, most smaller companies are in the dark.
Smaller companies apparently experience power outages pretty frequently, according to a recent survey. But when it comes to some sort of back up power systems, most smaller companies are in the dark.The survey was commissioned, unsurprisingly by Emerson Network Power but its findings are significant.

  • 79 percent of the small-business decision-makers surveyed experienced at least one power outage in 2007.
  • 67 percent of respondents anticipate experiencing outages again in the next 12 months.
  • Even more alarming is that of the small businesses that experienced outages in 2007, 42 percent had to close their businesses during the longest outages.

That last point is, of course, the most significant one as it leads ultimately to an impact on the bottom line. The next point surprised me: "And while small-business decision-makers ranked outages above fire, government regulation, weather damage, theft, and employee turnover as threats to their businesses, only 39 percent of them have back-up power systems, leaving 61 percent vulnerable to the negative business impacts of outages."

Smaller business do indeed tends to feel "powerless" in the face of power systems, always assuming that those kind of systems are only for the big guys. But an outage has the same  or even a greater -- impact on a smaller business where downtime could often make all the difference.

I spoke to Emerson's Jack Pouchet about how smaller businesses could conserve power and cut costs in their business and he made a similar point: Your business doesn't have to be large to realize significant savings if some simple measures are put into place.

Same here. In Emerson's release about the survey, John Zagara, owner of Zagaras Marketplace, a Cleveland-area supermarket, is quoted. JHe says: During the massive blackout of August 2003, the power went out mid-afternoon. Our back-up power system automatically switched my electrical source to a natural gas-powered generator which ran all registers and certain refrigerated equipment. Our front-end staff continued to check out customers until closing at 9 p.m. Our customers were in awe of our service delivery. The release notes that the back-up power equipment "enabled him to not only continue serving customers, but to save meat and frozen foods, valuable perishable inventory."

I found that story pretty compelling, despite the fact that it is used in a press release. Power outages happen all the time  in the winter it's the ice, the snow, the winds and in the summer its the air conditioners, the storms -- and smaller businesses should be taking themselves seriously enough to come up with a plan.