By Kawania H. Wooten CMP
If you are an entrepreneur and you intend to be out of the office for an extended amount of time, how are you proactively prepping your clients? Who is manning your phones and e-mail box while you are on the road? Let’s be honest — Everyone needs a break every now and then. So what are you doing to ensure your business continues to operate without you being engaged the entire time you are on the road?
Here are six (6) important steps I recommend you take before pack your backs and fasten that seatbelt. —
1. Give Your Clients the Heads Up. If you are going to be out of the office with limited access to e-mail for longer than five (5) days, give your clients the heads up. Approximately four weeks in advance, let them know via e-mail and/or phone call that you are going to be out of the office. Make sure that you note the dates you will be out of the office and the date you will return to the office. If needed, ensure that your e-mail notification includes the name and contact information for your back-up. If you are a “solo entrepreneur,” consider letting your clients know the date(s) you will check your e-mail while you are out.
2. Consider Giving Your Clients Another Reminder. If you are concerned that your clients probably won’t read the “Heads Up” e-mail, consider placing a reminder sentence immediately under your e-mail signature. Here’s an example — “Friendly Reminder: I will be out of the office February 27 through March 7. While I am out, you are welcome to leave an e-mail with ___________ and she will get back to you within 24 hours.”
3. Determine the Work You Must Complete Before You Disappear. If you are an entrepreneur, it’s almost impossible to get all of your work done before you depart, so don’t kill yourself trying to complete your entire “to do” list. Be realistic and focus on the tasks that you must complete before you depart. Let your team and clients know that you will complete the rest of the tasks upon your return.
4. Make Sure That Someone Has Your Back. I am a big believer that everyone should have time off, but it’s not always wise to completely shut your office down while you are out. So, make sure that you have someone answering your voicemail message and e-mail messages while you are out.
5. If Needed, Schedule Dates and Times to Check In. As life would have it, issues arise and opportunities present themselves while entrepreneurs are out of the office. So, you may want to check in from time to time — especially if you are a solo-entrepreneur.
6. Set Up Your “Out of Office” Message. Before you depart, set up your “Out of Office” message. But, don’t write that line, “I may have limited access to my phone and e-mail.” Too many of us have phones glued to our hands and it just doesn’t sound authentic. Instead, say that your reply may be delayed, but they should expect to hear from you by ______________ (note a date or note 24 hours). You want your business to feel professional, seamless, and accessible during business hours.
Kawania Wooten is the principal consultant at Howerton+Wooten Events, LLC. Known to her friends and family as Kay, she uses artistic skills, her keen attention to the smallest details and her strong commitment to customer service as the hallmark of her business. As the founder of the company, Kawania strives for professionalism, creativity and impeccable organization within every function planned by Howerton+Wooten Events.