With the unofficial start of the summer season — Memorial Day weekend— behind us, now is the time to focus on vacation plans for you and your staff if you haven’t already done so. Planning ahead helps ensure that your business will run smoothly while you and/or staff members are away.
Small business owners not taking time off
The 8th American Express OPEN Small Business Vacation Monitor shows that fewer than half (46%) of owners are planning a vacation of one week or more this summer, compared with 67% in 2006. Busy work schedules and financial sacrifices are the top reasons why owners are not taking vacations now.
Other interesting facts in the survey for owners who plan to get away:
- Only 68% will check in, compared with 81% who stayed connected in 2008.
- Vacation plans for about half of those surveyed are impacted by high gasoline prices.
Q&As for getting away
If you do plan time off, even if it’s only a long weekend here or there, attending to certain matters can give you peace of mind that the business will not suffer in your absence.
- Close or stay open? Many small businesses simply close their doors when an owner goes on vacation. Whether to do this depends on the nature of your business. Consultants and other businesses dependent on an owner’s personal services may be better off closing while the owner is away; the August getaway for many shrinks is renowned. Retailers, restaurants, and many other businesses can’t close and will need to make plans.
- Who’s in charge? There may be a natural leader in your organization or you may need to delegate this role to someone in your absence. Decide the extent of responsibility that this person should assume while you are away. Can this person sign checks? Fire an employee? Set the parameters before you depart. Also make sure that all staff members are empowered to handle their responsibilities without the need for much oversight.
- Will you stay connected? If you decide to keep in contact via your phone or email, help your staff learn boundaries. For example, if you are vacationing in a different time zone from your business, how early (or late) can you be reached? Under what conditions are they supposed to contact you, such as in emergencies only?
- What’s the best time to schedule vacations? Summer may not be optimum for certain businesses. But if you and your staff want to get away at this time, spread vacation days so that only one person is off at a time. This may require some negotiating if key days are desired by more than one employee. Seniority may be used to favor the choice of vacation days.
Planning ahead can make your vacation what it’s supposed to be ~ A time for relaxing and recharging yourself.