I’ve been keeping a secret for a little while…I’m about to take off for a 3 month long vacation! Let me clarify, this isn’t a typical “vacation”. I actually LIKE my work and I like my businesses. The idea of sleeping on a beach or reading books all day is great…the reality though is that I get bored out of my mind (fast).
So my “vacations” end of being a blend of work, play and SPACE SPACE SPACE to download my next idea from the universe (woo woo? yeah, i’m sorta woo woo!) This past January I hosted a retreat in Mexico and spent the entire month there. I realized how much I missed my traveling days and simple living. I rented a casita and brought a suitcase…other than hosting the retreat, I had a LOT of time for creation, relaxation and fun. So my hubby and I decided that it was time to mix things up again!
Last time that my husband and I set off for this amount of time, I only had an online business. But this time around I have one online business, one blended business and one full-on brick and mortar in Portland Oregon.
My experience has been that online businesses allow a ton of flexibility when it comes to packing up and traveling. So long as you have internet, then you’re probably going to survive. But my brick and mortar skincare studio is a little different. I have overhead, 5 employees and clients who want to see me face to face on the regular.
When I made up my mind that I wanted to take some serious time off, my first thoughts were “yeah right, that won’t happen!”
But as with all my hair-brained ideas that eventually become a reality, I didn’t give up on the idea immediately. I’m a huge beleiver in “making it work”. It might not be easy to get your way, but you can totally get your way! After all, what is the point of having a business if it doesn’t afford you the things that are most important to you (in my case – FREEDOM).
So I took a day to write out all my concerns. The list looked something like this:
- my clients will hate me if I leave
- my clients won’t go to the other estheticians
- my staff will be angry or irritated if I’m not around as much
- who is going to keep a consistent and diligent presence in the studio?
- the studio will quit growing if I’m not around all the time
- who will water those darn bushes outside that everyone ignores (seriously…this was my concern).
- who will do inventory?
- who will train staff?
Then I began to share my idea with my hubby and my friends in Mexico. Lucky for me, my friends also believe in “making it work”. And they believe in my ability to “make it work”. If you haven’t done something like this before or you aren’t well connected with other online entrepreneurs, people will likely question you and think you are crazy.
Once I wrote down my list of concerns and then began to REALLY conceptualize making it work, I began to work on addressing each and every concern one by one.
The 4 big things I had to have in place before taking off:
If I’m gone and I have no staff at the studio to give facials and remove hair, then I don’t have the ability to make money. So having enough staff was a big priority when I decided it was time for another big trip. While I had three great estheticians (4 including me), I needed another to help fill the gap of me being gone and our studio being increasingly busy (not that I’m complaining!)
So the minute I got back from my January trip to Mexico, I began the hiring process of one new esthetician. Once I had selected my new staff person, my focus was on getting her trained. This takes time and effort, but this time around I recruited the help of other staff to get her trained. That left me in a position to do more “fine tuning” type training with her as opposed to starting from scratch and having to single-handedly train her in everything.
Fast forward 6 weeks: she is trained, practiced and seeing clients! She is officially making the business money and my studio is fully staffed for where our numbers are at.
Back in November I decided it was time to hire a operations manager to help me with “all the things”. I’m was simply too busy and things began to fall through the cracks. I’ll write another post about this soon. But for now, know that I needed help and the perfect candidate showed up eager and ready to take “the things” off my plate.
She started in November as an intern, got hired on as a staff person in December and was put to the test in January whilst I was away in Mexico. She passed (not that I EVER questioned she would!)
This manager is my right-hand gal and has forever raised my expectations for what a good manager should do. Once I realized how great she was for the studio, I felt at ease knowing that she would be “on the ground” while I was away. She does everything from inventory to checking our weekly chore charts to making sure that everything is running smoothly.
The hardest part of the transition of bringing her on board was that my staff had to adjust to reporting to her for most things instead of reporting to me. It took a few weeks and some steady re-direction of requests, but everyone seems to be getting it now.
I’m confident knowing that she’ll be there to manage the day-to-day in my absence.
Ok. so all the stuff I mentioned so far is groovy…but if I hadn’t created some killer systems over the past year, then I would NOT be going away for three months.
From the day I started this studio a year ago, I’ve been creating and updating systems so that everyone who works at the studio can be on the same page about how everything works. When you one a one-woman show, systems are great, but it’s not until you instill the help of OTHERS that you see how necessary systems are to you success!
I have extremely high standards for my staff and our customer experience. We do little things like offer every client a mimosa, enter their date of birth into our system so that they get a gift come their B’day and give referral discounts when they recommend new clients our way. If I hadn’t created a way for this stuff to be tracked, then my “idea” of greatness could not be a reality.
Ultimately, the systems I’ve created ensure that our clients have a lovely experience when they visit our studio. This means that staff are kind, the studio is clean, services are standardized and follow-up procedures are documented and tracked.
We’ve even recently made a few small changes to our sales process that have tripled our revenue in product sales. I’ll be writing more about that soon, but suffice it to say that it was a SYSTEM I created that made our sales goals a reality!
If my studio weren’t making money, then I would definitely NOT be taking a big vacation. But sales are up each and every month and so long as they remain this way or keep growing, then I’m able to pull a salary despite my absence from the studio.
In fact, I found that stepping away this past January allowed me more time and focus for marketing and strategy…so sales actually saw quite a big increase from previous months. It’s easy to get swamped down in the day to day (especially if you have a brick and mortar and you live less than a mile away from it!) I’m confident that the next 3 months will be similar in that I’ll have more time and energy to focus on the things that GROW the studio, not just maintain it.
I’m sharing this information today, because I want you to know that you can VERY likely do something similar with your business if that is what you desire. It’s not rocket science, it just takes a sprinkle of creativity, a lot of planning and a little leap of faith that it will all go as planned.
The reality is that I’ll be flying back to Portland in May for a week to see clients, check in on staff and do any trainings that are needed, so I’m not exactly dropping off the face of the planet (nor do I want to0.) Another reality is that I could have LARGE staff turnover that would cause me to come back sooner or shift my plans drastically.
There are always many unknowns. But I would rather plan for the best and deal with whatever comes up when it comes up rather than not go because I’m caught up worrying about all that could go wrong.
So what about you?
Are there any BIG changes that you’d like to see in your business?
What are the fears that come up for you when you imagine making these changes?
How can you apply a similar method to overcoming these challenges in your own business?
Need help strategizing? Comment below or shoot me an email!