Take a vacation without losing business

Written by Deena Waisberg

You’ve been burning the midnight oil, going the extra mile for your clients and business is humming along nicely. But you really need a vacation. Of course you deserve a break, but you don’t want to slam the company door on your clients while you’re away. Follow these simple steps to prepare for your vacation to ensure you won’t lose valuable clients or contracts while you’re away.

  1. Create a task list and schedule for yourself

    Make a list of the imperative tasks you need to complete before you leave and create a reasonable schedule for yourself. “Leave the last week for inevitable incidentals that arise,” advises Karen Mallett, co-owner of In Good Company, a Winnipeg-based firm that provides etiquette and protocol training for individuals and businesses.

  2. Give your clients advance warning

    Let clients know your vacation dates ahead of time. That way, everyone is prepared for the break. After all, no one wants to hear that you can’t complete the work at the eleventh hour.

  3. Arrange for a staff member to cover for you while you’re away

    To avoid losing business, arrange for a staff member to manage your clients while you’re away. Meet with the person beforehand and make sure he will provide service in a way that’s consistent with your approach. “The client needs to feel that he can expect the same consideration from your associate,” says Mallett. It’s also helpful to give him a status report of where projects are and alert him to clients who are likely to call.

  4. Change your voicemail and e-mail

    Change your voicemail and e-mail to indicate when you’ll be away, when you’ll be returning and who to contact in your absence. “Some people make the mistake of saying ‘If it’s an emergency, contact so-and-so.’ If I’m the client, how do I know if it’s an emergency? It’s better to say ‘Push 247 to speak with John Smith, who will be happy to assist you in my absence,'” explains Mallett. Remember to include the phone number and/or e-mail of the person to contact, so clients don’t have to waste time trying to locate him.

  5. Clean up your workspace before you leave

    Get all your files in order and show the person who is filling in where everything is so that he can easily find documents. You’ll be glad your vacation isn’t interrupted by a frantic phone call to find a file.

  6. Leave a phone number or e-mail for emergencies

    Explain to your staff that you are not to be contacted unless there’s an emergency. “Make sure your staff understands what an emergency is,” warns Mallet. “You don’t want them calling you because they’ve run out of supplies.” She defines an emergency situation as one that involves safety, death or losing a major client. But if there is a corporate crisis, you can be reached for your input.

Read other pointers on How To contribute to your business success!

© 2003 Deena Waisberg

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com