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Something Nathan and I have struggled with since we’ve both become self-employed is taking time off. We’re either checking social media, responding to customer inquiries, reviewing orders, or basically doing anything but being in the moment and enjoying the trip. Last year, we ended up in a huge fight on our road trip because we were trying to enjoy the National Mall and figure out a massive wholesale order we received while we were gone. One big fight was enough for us to say never again so we worked on how we can better manage our shop while we’re exploring new places.
Below are five tips to get you started on managing your online shop while you’re on vacation:
Let people know in advance. Let your customers know that you’ll be gone and when orders will be shipping before you’re gone. This gives them time to order before you leave or tells them know that you’re not ignoring them when they ask where their order is. This may mean a line or two in your Etsy shop announcement, a notice on your main shop’s page or even a Hello Bar announcement, social media announcements, or even a newsletter with the info. Do whatever you can to let people know ahead of time to make your life easier while you’re gone and when you return.
Remove email/social media from your phone. Even if it’s temporarily or just while you’re out exploring. It’s easy to say you just won’t look at it, but it’s 10x harder to actually not look at it. Don’t check email or social media when you’re out exploring. Set scheduled times to work if you must and only let yourself work for that long. Schedule tweets and Facebook updates before the trip so you don’t need to do that while you’re away as well.
Let go. There’s a possibility that a customer didn’t see your attempts to let them know you would be gone so they’re upset that they haven’t received their order yet. Or there’s a chance that you may receive a message from a customer that’s unhappy. Have an away message set up so these messages are answered right away and then respond to them during a scheduled work time OR when you get back. But in the mean time, let go of any of the guilt or frustration you feel from it. You deserve to relax on vacation and you shouldn’t let anyone prevent you from doing just that. For every frustrated customer, there are most likely dozens of happy customers who saw your messages and/or loved your products. This is what you need to remember on vacation because you will not be able to get back that precious time that was meant for you to unwind. So kick back, let go of any of the work-related stress, and save all that worry for when you return because it’ll be there waiting for you.
Offer an incentive. People love instant gratification so if they see that their order isn’t going to ship for a week or two because you’re gone, there is a chance they may seek out another place to buy a similar product that will get to them sooner. Your job is to give them a reason to order from you anyway. Offer a discount, samples, free products, etc to anyone that buys while you’re gone. This gives customers a reason to buy and it helps you have orders to come back to so your business doesn’t lose footing just because you took a vacation.
Get organized ahead of time. While you can’t predict how many orders you’ll have while you’re gone, you can have a plan of attack on how to handle everything when you return. Decide when you’ll respond to messages, when you’ll fulfill orders, when you’ll update your website, etc. before you leave. Include any information that’s pertinent to customers (i.e.: when you’ll respond to emails, when orders will be sent, etc) in your away messages, social media posts, and shop announcements. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy the vacation because you’ll know how you’ll handle the workload when you return.
what are your tips for managing your shop on vacation?