Are you worried about taking time off over the holidays? Maybe your client will need you. Maybe you will miss the call or email from that prospect you have been courting. Maybe they will be so upset with you that they stop doing business with you.
Maybe, but not likely.
Doing business and/or not doing business over the Christmas Holidays is a challenge for most small business owners.
- Should I answer my email?
- Should I close for the week?
- Can I go without picking up my phone when my best customer calls?
These are all questions we find hard to answer since as a small business, every sale is often crucial to our future existence as a business. What I want to share with you this week are three tips to creating a relationship with your clients and prospects that will give you the balance in your life to close for a day or a week, be with your family, and still keep your best clients.
1. Set Your Boundaries:
This is actually true for all year round. Once set, when the holiday comes the expectation is understood. If you are always available then you will always need to be available, so don’t always be available. When we are setting up a relationship we need to let people know what is and is not important to us.
Do you have dinner with your kids every night? Are you a single mom with responsibilities that must be handled at specific times? Do you have other people in your life, like parents or friends that also rely on you? Likely you do and that is why you cannot allow your business to determine when you are available. You must set that boundary and stick to it.
The key is that you do not have to tell people why you are not available, just that you are not available. If you want to say, “I have an important meeting I cannot miss on Monday mornings” because you have to take your mother to the doctor’s every week, then say that. People will understand when you give them the alternative times you are available.
Here are some suggestions:
- We return calls within 2 hours
- We are closed on statutory holidays
- We answer calls between 8am and 5pm EST
- As stated in our contract, I will be available on Christmas day from 2-4pm EST
- For immediate support please contact…
Remember, I am not saying there will never be exceptions, I’m saying you can set your boundaries and you will be pleasantly surprised to know that most people will be happy to connect at your available time.
2. Get the Word Out
If you are going to be closed, don’t make your clients guess when, let them know ahead of time. Post it in the most likely places it will be seen. Not everyone will see it ahead of time so make sure it is also in a place they will get the information on the days you are away.
Key – Make sure you add the date of the day you will return or reopen.
- Put it in your email signature line (e.g. We will be close Dec 25 and 26)
- Put it on your voicemail message
- Put it in your Christmas cards
- Put it on your website
- Put it on the door or window of your business location
- Put it in your special mailings, social media profile and/or newsletters
3. Turn it Off
If you are truly going to be unavailable to your clients, make sure you give yourself permission to not work. Shut everything down. Turn off your phone, don’t check your social media or email. If you do then make sure you allot a specific amount of time to be present and engaged in your business and then stop at the time you said you would be done.
This allows you to respect your time and also those in your life you committed to spending time with. If you have someone in your family that cannot come to a meal without looking at their clock or answering their phone, then you know what it is like to be thought of as ‘second fiddle’. It stinks! Be as present in your time off as you are for your time in business and you will enjoy more balance in your life.