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  • Florist on Vacation — Taking Time to Smell the Flowers

    Flowers and Profits®

    How to fit a vacation into your busy schedule . . .

    Running a successful shop takes years of working day and night to build the business — a 60 to 80 hour work week where there's no profit in smelling the flowers. But if you fail to take care of yourself and your family in the process, you risk putting your health — and the business in jeopardy.

    "Yes," you may say, "I know. But I just don't have time for a vacation yet." A "good" time for a vacation is as scarce as lily-of-the-valley in January. The more relevant issue, though, is how much not taking a vacation is going to cost. What if your fatigue caused you to make poor business decisions? What if your health suffers under the stress? What's the toll on your marriage and family life because of your mental and physical absence?

    Over time, everyone needs a break to recharge their batteries — even if it's only a few days puttering around the house and spending some time with family and friends. After a good break from the hustle and bustle of everyday activities, you'll return to your shop renewed and energized. That means better decisions, more attention to important details, heightened morale and more profitability.

    If you're still having a problem justifying leaving your shop even for a few days, think of taking some time off as purchasing an "insurance policy" that will reduce the risk of you business failing. If you fail to perform at your peak or collapse from exhaustion, there's a good possibility that your business will falter, too — a sorry reward for all the time, talent and effort you've invested.

    Actually, getting away may not be as difficult or as disastrous as you might think. Here are a few ways to help manage a break without breaking the business:

    Begin Small

    Most experts agree that it takes at least a week for a business manager to get completely away from work and relax. However, if you have a small shop with no one to back you up, you may have to consider taking several shorter breaks — three or four days at a time. Since your weekends may be your busiest time, you may wish to take a few days off during the middle of the week, especially during the slower times of the year.

    One shop owner reduced her workweek to four days by taking every Wednesday off for a month — like her doctor does. By planning ahead, she was able to take some day trips with her grandchildren when they were on summer break. To ease her mind, she took her cell phone with her, so if there was an emergency at the shop, she could take care of business.

    In her absence, the shop's personnel actually have become more resourceful and independent. She's now able to take longer breaks with the goal to eventually take a full week off.

    Unbreakable commitment

    There will never be a perfect time to go on a vacation. Even if business is slow, there's always remodeling, planning, "housekeeping" or a trade show to attend. Unless you block out a period of time for a vacation and promise to leave the business, you may never leave.

    One way to commit yourself is to make travel reservations and pay a deposit. Once you set a date, you can plan around that time to lessen the impact your absence will have on the shop.

    Reciprocal Florist

    For some shop owners, there's no one to cover the business during an absence, no one to do the designs, manage the work or take care of customers. However, finding backup may not be as impossible as it seems. If this is your dilemma consider that you're not the only flower shop owner who needs a break. Other florists in your area are facing the same situation. Perhaps an alliance is just the ticket both of you need to make your getaways.

    Janet and her husband, Al, wanted to attend a friend's out-of-town wedding; but it would require taking a four-day weekend. None of the part-time help was capable of managing the entire operation. Janet had a brainstorm. She contacted the owner of a shop across town (not a direct competitor) to see if they would like to supply her customers with arrangements during her absence. Janet's shop stayed open to receive orders and transmit them to the covering florist, where her delivery person picked them up. The setup was invisible to Janet's customers.

    In exchange, the covering florist only charged Janet their cost on the arrangements, so Janet's shop didn't lose any money. The plan is for Janet to return the favor by covering the other florist's vacation at a later date.

    The week before her trip, Janet had her part-timer come in several times so she could coach her on how to handle the business without her.

    She trained her on how to place orders with the other shop and schedule deliveries. She reviewed all of the frequently asked questions she could think of and how to ask certain types of customers to wait for Janet's return, for instance, to plan a wedding.

    Not a Luxury

    Although taking a vacation is tough, you owe it to yourself, your family, your employees and your customers. It is the best way to provide good service and keep your shop profitable.

    By planning ahead and preparing your employees and backups to carry the load in your absence, you can minimize any negative impact your vacation might have. And when you return from "smelling the flowers," your business will profit from your renewed enthusiasm and vigor.


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