How to run your business during the holiday season
It’s the holiday season and we’re almost at the end of 2017! I can’t believe how fast this year went by. I have lots of beautiful memories and lots of great experiences with family, friends and clients. I had the privilege to work with amazing clients, both for events and weddings and for the coaching side. If you are one of them, thank you! I love my job and I hope you feel the same way too about your job. It makes everything easier when you really love your job and it allows you to serve your clients with more enthusiasm and better customer service.
So, since you love your clients so much, are you staying open during the holidays? Are you providing assistance to them during these next couple of weeks? Or, are you taking a holiday break and re-open on the first week of January? And, if you’re closing for the holidays, do you have a plan that can work for you and for your clients without disappointing them? Or, are you at risk of losing clients because you’re not working?
I was a guest on a radio show called Better Biz Better You hosted by Anna D. Banks a few weeks ago and I was asked to share tips for entrepreneurs to stay productive and still be profitable during the holiday season.
We all know that we need to take a break and enjoy a deserved vacation. I completely agree about that (I always promote this in my #LifeWorkBalance series). However, if you own your business you cannot think about disappearing completely for 1-2 weeks and just unplug until you come back to your normal routine. If you own your business you must stay connected with your team, you must stay connected with your clients. We live in an era where technology allows us to stay connected pretty much wherever we are, even globally.
Of course, there are exceptions where you can just unplug and you don’t have to think about anything else. Maybe you have a seasonal job, or maybe you can afford to just stop working for certain periods of time during the year and not have to worry while you’re gone.
But, if you’re like the majority of us who are constantly serving clients and getting new leads, and creating a future for our business, you must stay connected. And today, with technology, this is absolutely doable without a lot of efforts.
Plus, if you are in the wedding planning industry (like I am), a lot of couples might contact you right after Christmas or right after New Year’s because they just got engaged and they’re excited to start planning their wedding. If you are closed and they get an automated message answering their call (or an automated response when they email you) they will move on to the next candidate and they will most likely book a colleague of yours.
So, remember: if you own your business and you are the one dealing with your clients directly as a solo entrepreneur, you have to be in control. You can call it a downside of owning a business, I call it a privilege because you are in control.
Having said that, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go on vacation or take a break, even if it’s for a few days. You certainly can, and you should! Our body and mind need to rest. But you can make some smart adjustments to your normal routine and still enjoy the downtime. Again, depending on the job you have maybe you can tell your clients: “I’ll be gone for 10 days, I’ll talk to you when I’m back”. Personally, I could never do that – I’m only trying to imagine my wedding couples hearing “You know, I’ll be gone for 2 weeks and we’ll resume your planning when I’m back”. They would die if I told them that!
Whether you’re leaving town for a vacation or you’re just taking a break and you’ll stay home with your spouse and kids, here are some tips to keep running the business while enjoying your downtime.
Inform your current clients
Let your clients know in advance about your plans to leave town or to take a few days off from work. Let’s be honest here, we’re all human beings and your clients will completely understand when you tell them that you’re taking a break. Right? Don’t feel guilty or don’t apologize for doing that! You need it! You deserve it. Just assure them that their questions, concerns or needs will still be handled during that time. Of course, you need to have a plan. So, there are different options depending on your type of business and whether you have a team or a certain structure and I share them below.
Create a schedule
Put some time aside during the day to check your inbox and your voice mails, and respond to the most urgent matters. It could be a couple of hours in the morning or in the evening, for instance. This will also help you avoid the overwhelm when you go back to work after your vacation. You know, that horrible feeling when you open your inbox back from your trip and you have 590 emails waiting for you, and you want to scream…! Just tell them that you’ll be available for any questions but you will have limited access to email or phone or text, whatever your client uses to communicate with you.
Assign tasks to your team
Delegate to your team (if you have employees or associates, or even interns) and have them check emails for you daily or even twice a day if necessary. They can respond to your clients, they can respond to leads and inquiries, or they can just filter calls and emails and send you a summary at the end of the day. Then you can follow up with prospects or clients as needed. It’s very important that your team members have a clear understanding of your brand, of your message, and they represent you extremely well when responding or talking with prospects and / or clients. You don’t want to lose a business deal or a booking or a job or a client because of your team! Many of us are the brand, I’m my own brand, and what I do or say to my clients represents my brand 100%.
Be clear on the response time
If you don’t have team members and you will be in an area without access to phone and internet, then be very clear with your clients about the time frame while you’re gone. Again, it’s very important that you inform them way in advance so you can discuss issues or answer questions or work on a specific plan before you leave.
For any inquiries coming during that time, it’s OK to set up an auto-responder and let them know you will get back to them in 2-4-7 days. This is, to me, the perfect way to lose a potential client (in my industry, clients are very impatient and if you don’t answer the phone or respond to their inquiry within 24 hours they move on and call other professionals). So, auto-responders should be the last resort in case you don’t really have any way to be connected to the rest of the world. Also, auto-responders are, in my opinion, very impersonal so stay away from them as much as you can.
Do you need help with your business during the hectic holiday season? Let’s connect! Schedule your FREE Clarity Call HERE
Holistic Precision Life Coach, Brain Wellness Coach, and Life-Work Balance Strategist for busy professionals. I blend well-being principles with epigenetics, neuroscience, positive psychology, and mindfulness techniques to implement effective behavior changes.