The Australian Small Business Blog

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to have a vacation without emails or phone calls and return to a thriving business

by Dr Greg Chapman

Last month I returned from a vacation in Europe with my wife to find my business running very nicely without me. Enquiries were still coming in and being handled, and sales were unaffected. The best thing was that I didn’t look at a single business email or take a single business call while I was away.

Well, to be strictly accurate, I did receive one text from my assistant, Gabrielle, whilst I was on a train travelling through the Swiss Alps. She wasn’t sure how to handle a particular enquiry. A 30 second reply was all it took. There was no further contact until my return.

Once back in my office, Gabrielle sent me a report she had complied with the significant enquiries and issues, how they were handled, and what actions were required by me if any. Looking back on my period of absence, I hadn’t lost a single sale.

Is that what it’s like when you are away from your business? How was I able to do that?

Gabrielle has been working with me for many years. You may have spoken to her when you ordered a product, or received an email from her in response to an online enquiry. She is responsible for most my back office operations. So when I mentioned to her that I wanted a vacation without interruption, we worked out a plan to manage the things I normally look after myself.

We developed protocols for different enquiry types, even down to scripts. I created the reports I wanted on my return. We had a training period where she was able to see all my direct emails and ask any questions. Like you see in the corporate world, she became my gatekeeper.

I had a private email account, to which she had access in case of an emergency (but she never had to use), and of course she had my mobile number. Current clients were informed that I would be only available for emergencies with Gabrielle the final arbiter of what constituted an emergency. All my clients understood and were happy with this arrangement, and in fact were pleased (jealous?) for me to have this break. Gabrielle also was in contact with my suppliers (most of which she regularly manages anyway) and was able to look after any issues without any recourse to me.

To be able to do all this does require trust in the individual(s) you are working with, but even if you have not got someone like Gabrielle in your business, other reporting strategies are simple to develop so that you limit interruptions.

Thank you Gabrielle for a wonderful vacation. I am already planning my next Italian escape in 2015.

May Your Business be - As You Plan It.

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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.

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1 comment :

Unknown said...

I have just survived one weekend where I used partial use of my mobile! However having just employed a new assistant - its game on next time! See if he can be as good as Gabrielle. We all certainly need to cut off and when we get back to it, feel great and refreshed. Its the hardest thing for a small business owner to do. Well done Greg and Gabrielle is always welcome at Bendalls ! :)


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