Q: What is the best way to operate your business during the holiday (and still enjoy the time off)?
A: Rotate remote check-ins. “Our employees all work remotely, so they can easily check in over the holidays to make sure no big issues come up. While they won’t be on our live chat during the hours that they normally are, they’ll take turns checking the company’s main email account for customer issues so that they can still be handled in a reasonable amount of time.” Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.
Be upfront, and have great order/contact forms. “In my experience, customers can respect it when you aren’t available during the holidays. We’ve made it very easy for customers to leave detailed descriptions of what they want through our website, so the process is completely automated until we return to deal with them. Make sure you let your customers know that you will not be open through both website forms.” Matt Doyle, Excel Builders
Be realistic. “It is important that employees have time off to enjoy holidays, but our business can’t afford to shut down. We help businesses recover from and prevent website attacks, so we need to be available 24/7/365. We hire adequate staff to allow employees to work in smaller shifts, rather than need to work every holiday. You need to create a culture where everyone is committed to a great customer experience 365 days a year.” Neill Feather, SiteLock, LLC
Set up an out-of-office schedule. “We take three weeks out of the office every year between Christmas and New Year’s. Our physical office is closed, employees check their emails twice a day and are available by phone, and one person from each department remains ‘online’ during a full work day to field any issues and contact team members as need be for any complications that arise. These three weeks are a gift employees treasure.” Faithe Parker, Marbaloo Marketing
Give your employees flexibility. “We have the luxury to be flexible in where and when our team is working. We tell our employees that we expect them to work for one week during the two weeks that make up Christmas and New Year’s. Some will come into the office and others will work remotely. Many have families and out-of-town plans, and we want to be flexible for them to really enjoy the holidays.” Thomas Cullen, LaunchPad Lab
Always keep someone on call. “We look at the previous year’s volumes during holiday times and take into account recent activity. Based on that information we will staff accordingly. Regardless of the holiday, we will always have people on call and ready to answer questions from customers.” Yaniv Masjedi, Nextiva
Allow for time off. “I want my staff to take time to be with their families and be refreshed for the new year, so I shut down my business between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I find that everyone is happier and more productive when we are rested and ready to rock come January.” Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
Stay open. “As a web business, we are always open. We make sure that there is a designer, developer, internet marketing and content team member available during that week. They can work remotely, but we need someone to always be able to answer questions, update sites and make last-minute changes during the holidays.” Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
Be available for emergencies. “We don’t get as much phone traffic as we do email traffic, and that is probably starting to ring true for most companies. As long as someone is available to answer emails, it isn’t required that they be at their desk. We have voicemail sent to email as well. We ask that our team keep up with emails throughout their time away, not constantly, but frequently enough that we can handle any emergencies.” Andrew Kucheriavy, Intechnic