Vacation is a tricky topic as a small business owner and entrepreneur – specifically how you navigate your existing clients while you’re spending time away. It may be tempting to say sayonara and let your virtual assistant (or out-of-office email) handle the rest, but there’s a better way to do it. Let’s talk about how to prepare your clients for your vacation.
First, this is mostly applicable to someone whose business doesn’t simply “pause” while they’re away. This is for someone who has retainer or maintenance clients who shouldn’t just hit an “I’m not here” email while you’re away.
You can also choose to modify or use my suggestions as inspiration rather than following them step-by-step. Remember that although you’re prioritizing yourself by taking a vacation, you shouldn’t neglect your client experience while you’re away.
Technically speaking, you are not an employee of your client – you’re a business or freelancer who sets their hours. This comes with the perks of planning your vacay, you also don’t get paid leave, one of the main reasons why it’s hard for small business owners to take a vacation in general.
Anyways, the reason I bring it up is because you’re essentially giving your clients notice that you’ll be AWOL and what is going to happen while you’re gone (you’re not asking them to take a vacation). Depending on your contract, this can look different for everyone, like what services will still be performed by your team or automated.
This also includes how your clients can get in touch with you or your team, and client communication is one of the main SOPs I recommend you have in place for your team or automated before you go on vacation. Again, this very much depends on the services you offer. For example, if you’re a web designer/developer and a client’s website shut down, they’re going to need some type of support – and quick.
You need to clarify and communicate what to expect while you’re away to keep your client’s trust and focus on your client experience. There’s nothing worse than making an investment, loving that investment, and then being left on “read.”
As soon as possible, especially if you’re working on a timeline or a recurring project/service. Think 1-2 months in advance and potentially even longer if you’re spending more than a week on vacation.
Your communication shouldn’t end there either, you should periodically remind your clients of your time away. Send a dedicated reminder email asking them to get anything through to you before you leave 2-4 weeks before you leave.
A ‘soft’ reminder attached to your usual emails should be sent 1-2 weeks before you leave. And finally, you should send a final reminder the day before you go. all of which can be automated too. If it makes sense for you, you can also add a little note to your email signature with a vacation reminder including the dates you’ll be gone.
Your ‘notice’ or rather, what you’re going to tell your clients when you go on vacation is going to be short and simple. Start with a friendly greeting and follow up with a quick summary of when you’ll be gone and the processes they need to know about. If you want to get more detailed, go for it!
And don’t forget to set up your out-of-office email when you leave!
If there’s only one thing you learn from this breakdown of how to prepare your clients for your vacation, it’s that you don’t need to overthink it. Your main superpower here is going to be your communication. A little bit of communication can go a long way in how your clients perceive you and your business.
Make sure they have all the information (if any) they need to carry on without you for a few days (or weeks) and when they can expect to hear a response from you when you get back or who they can touch in the meantime.
Rather than stressing about what to say or how to tell your clients about your vacation, focus on giving them the best experience possible. Make sure all of your systems are set up for ease of use and access, that you have a clear expectation of how your business will function while you’re gone, and a few backup plans in case things go awry. If you need any help with planning your vacation, I have a few travel tips that I live by as an entrepreneur.