Taking time off from work is never an easy proposition in the service contracting industry, especially if you have to be in a state of all-hands-on-deck – at all times. But, you must also incorporate a healthy work/life balance if you want to promote a positive work environment with more productivity and less burnout.
It’s difficult to give clients 100 percent effort when you’re constantly running on all cylinders – and then some. Yet, how do you notify your clients of your upcoming vacation? Who will cover for your work load? How can customers get the quotes they need even while you’re away? There’s only one trick to a stress-free vacation, and that is to plan early.
Empower Your Staff Year Round
If your personal life suffers, then your work life can suffer. As a result, you need some “me” time – time for yourself and to bond with your friends and family. But, you don’t want to be worried about the office while you’re away.
So, start empowering your staff all year long. Train your senior team members on how to handle critical operations far ahead of any vacation you take. It’s much better for them to be comfortable when you’re gone than to have to train them at the last minute.
Delegate a Second-in-Command
You can’t be all things to all people, and you shouldn’t try. So, when it’s time for a vacation, you must make sure you are committed to that vacation. Yet, it might prove difficult if you feel the need to answer every email, call, and inquiry.
If you already have managers, or supervisors, in your company then you should delegate someone to be in charge while you’re away. Of course, it helps to let them know of their additional responsibilities ahead of time so that you can prepare them for what to expect and what you expect them to do.
Create a list of your most important daily activities for their review. Hand over any special instructions for specific tasks such as payroll or meetings with vendors.
Give them the ability to reach you, but only in an emergency. Let them check your email for you, and only send critical emails your way. You don’t have to cut off email completely, but you can go a few days without checking.
To make sure things run smoothly, include instructions for these standard procedures:
- Rebooting computers/servers/software
- Processing payroll
- Configuring the security alarm
- Admin password for software systems
- Managing credit card transactions
- Making bank deposits/withdrawals
- Paying bills
- Purchasing tools/equipment/uniforms
- Service vehicle maintenance
Then, include detailed instructions for all your service technicians and employees. And, most importantly, let your second-in-command know they have your full confidence.
Put Contingency Plans in Place
It is critical to prepare for the worst-case scenario. If anything were to go wrong, what should your team do? How can business keep running as usual even if you’re not around? How can service calls still be met without your presence? Make sure to have plans in place to address these questions.
Create Quote Templates
With a CRM system for contractors and service businesses, you can easily create quote templates that your employees can conveniently use while you’re on vacation. Set up templates for all standard services. Then, have your second-in-command handle quotes for more complicated jobs.
The thing about quote templates is you only have to create them once. Now, your staff can send customers accurate quotes as soon as they’re requested. And, your employees will feel confident knowing these templates have your stamp of approval.
Annihilate your Workload a Week Before You Leave
Sometimes, it takes a vacation to plan a vacation. You need to make sure there won’t be any critical situations occurring while you’re gone, that all bills are paid, that you’ve packed everything you need, and that your service contracting business is set for business as usual. Well, that takes work.
In addition, you will probably miss a few things here and there. As a result, you need at least a cushion of a week to take care of any last-minute action items that pop up – and, they will. This means you must get rid of your workload about a week before you leave so that you can be there for any questions from your staff and second-in-command.
Don’t put any potential obstacles in your way. It might require you to sacrifice a weekend, but that would be better than letting tasks drag on until the day you leave.
Alert Your Customers as Soon as Possible
Once you have confirmed your vacation dates, it’s time to let your clients know. This will give them some leeway to schedule any necessary appointments and to understand who will be in charge while you’re gone. Start by first getting in touch with the customers you deal with personally.
Reaching out in advance also gives them an understanding not to make any urgent requests right before you leave. Then, let them know again a week or two before you leave. Use something similar to this simple message:
“Just a quick note to remind you that I will be on vacation August 15-23, basking on a sandy Carolina beach. For any service call issues, please contact Steve at (phone/email).”
Letting your customers know of your vacation plans has another benefit – it provides a type of bonding experience and humanizes your interactions. And don’t forget to set up your email auto-responder and work voicemail accordingly.
Give it a Test Run
Take one or two days off before your vacation to see how your staff manages without you. See how well they follow your instructions and continued on with managing their core job roles efficiently.
A test run helps to give you an idea of whether your company will function smoothly while you’re away. It also gives you time to take care of any unforeseen situations before you leave.
Before You Take Time Off
Taking a vacation isn’t always easy, but it is necessary for your mental health – which, can leak over into your business health. As long as you incorporate careful planning and foresight, you can finally find the time for a relaxing and much-needed escape.