The holidays are approaching and many of us struggle to take a break during this festive season. Delivering a smooth experience that meets a client’s expectations is essential for your business to grow. From my experience, this is my fail-safe system for defining the rules of engagement and taking a real break from business:
- No client work
- No work emails
- No meetings
- No checking the email app on my phone
When my holiday break begins, I turn off my computer, close my office door, and do not open it until the new year. That’s my yearly no cheating holiday break strategy! Here’s what you can do to set and manage client expectations for the holidays:
Plan your holiday
I set my non-negotiable time off, just as I schedule my client meetings and projects. Select the dates you want to be out of the office. Make it official and add them to your calendar. For me, seeing those dates help to solidify those plans.
Set clear client boundaries
Increasing trust is one of the best ways to manage expectations. Communicate clearly with your clients how your team works. Give them a heads up that you will be off on the specified days that you’ve chosen. Give them a call and reassure them that you will finish any open projects before your time off. Set mutually agreed-upon marketing goals and strategies that align with your client’s business and project goals. Be transparent about what you can and can’t accomplish. It’s okay to work longer hours to get everything wrapped up, just make sure that this process is communicated to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Let your clients know that you will limit the start of new projects before the holidays as it pertains to your client’s needs.
Follow-up with a reminder email of your planned time off. Be sure to include the following information:
- Dates when your holiday break will begin and when they can expect to hear from you afterward.
- Your process of how you will take care of them leading up to your break.
- A request for all materials you need from them to complete the current project and deadlines for when you need them.
- What will happen project-wise if they don’t provide you with the requested materials in time. For instance, you may have to push back the project submission date.
- If you’re providing products that ship out, be sure to give yourself enough time to prep each shipment and factor in time in case of shipping delays.
Create a detailed plan for all projects
It’s time to put systems in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly while you’re away. Create a detailed plan of action with timelines for each project. Under-promise and over-deliver. Give your team some cushion for the unexpected, and then deliver ahead of time. When you give clients a better understanding of your promises as a business partner, it will help them manage their expectations and allow you to always meet them.
Your client should be clear about the status: the strategy, the plan, the goals, the accomplishments, and the next steps of the project at all times. Be upfront about what happens if plans change.
Set an email auto-responder
It’s important to set an “out of office” email auto-responder or website banner. In case you receive emails in your inbox while away, your well-crafted “out of office” message should include the following:
- A genuine and friendly greeting for their inquiry
- Dates of your absence
- How often, if any, you’ll respond to emails during your break
- Reassurance that their message is important and they will receive a response
- BONUS: Call to action with links to your most popular blog posts or videos
Keep your word and enjoy our holiday
You’ve planned it out and scheduled your holiday break on the calendar, sent an email to give your clients a heads-up, and set clear boundaries, now it’s time to keep your word and reward yourself with being fully present during your planned holiday.
You can always get more clients but you can’t get more time, so have a fabulous holiday – you deserve it!
Let’s impact together!