Are you planning a vacation but worried about how your clothing store will run without you?
When you decide to start a clothing business, you must be willing to put in extra effort to ensure its success. While you must devote your time to your business, this does not exclude you from taking a break and going on vacation. But first, make sure your business is running well while you're gone. Below are some ways for you to do so.
1. Create a store manual
Your employees must run the company without you while you are away from your business. Your clothing store's handbook should provide them with the resources and tools they need to deal with every issue that happens. Your industry and company determine the contents of your manual. You might want to include the following sections in the manual:
- General details about your store, for example, your business name, the type of clothing you sell, and your history.
- Store rules and regulations
- Customer service issues, for example, how to handle returns and shipping,
- Make a list of the tools you use in your store (computers, software, analytics, cameras, etc.) and provide basic instructions on how to use them.
- There are clear guidelines on how to deal with shoplifters and theft. This part should also provide information on dealing with paperwork and currency processing mistakes.
- List emergency contacts, such as the local police and fire departments and nearby medical facilities.
Your store manual isn't something you should write once and then forget about. Once a year, go over it again to make sure everything is updated. Employees could even suggest additions or changes to the guidebook based on their own experiences. Consider producing a digital version of your store handbook that allows customers to search for answers by simply typing in a keyword.
2. Choose a trusted employee to take over
While you are on leave, appoint someone who can take over, be trusted, and be knowledgeable about the clothing industry. It's better to choose someone who has worked with the company for years and has shown loyalty and leadership abilities.
But do not depend on your store's performance on your appointed staff. It is still essential to empower and train your staff to perform well, even when not present. Provide them with proper training and cultivate an open environment that values each team member's contributions.
Encourage them to ask questions and get specific and broad answers to understand how their actions affect the business. Precisely outline each employee's responsibilities and determine who is responsible for what, and hold your personnel accountable for their actions.
3. Prepare things before going on leave
Begin preparing things for your leave. If you're absent for a few days, give your employees notice a week or two before you leave. However, if you're taking maternity leave, you'll need to notify your team months as soon as possible. Here are some preparations you should do before going on vacation:
- Discuss any concerns with your staff so you can start making transition plans.
- Make a checklist of day-to-day tasks and assign who is responsible for the job. Don't forget to give them tools like login information. Install the required software on your laptop or phone and save your papers on your computer, where you can access them from anywhere.
- Organize your contact list so you can get in touch with them even when you're on vacation.
- Organize your files and label them accordingly so your staff can find what they need.
4. Notify your customers and suppliers
Make sure your customers and suppliers know that you are leaving on vacation. So you can talk about any projects you're working on together, any concerns that need to be addressed, and whether those issues can be satisfactorily addressed before you leave, or if they can wait until you return. It's a good idea to contact or email them a few months before your trip. Keep the following in mind while discussing with clients your leave:
- Inform them of your vacation dates.
- Inquire if there is anything they require of you before you leave.
- Remember to introduce them to someone responsible for them while you are away.
- Give them a backup plan, such as a personal phone number to call.
An example of your message to your client might be, "Hello, my name is [name]. Thank you for contacting us! Until [date], I'll be away from the office. Don't hesitate to contact Madison at [number] if you have an urgent concern. She will gladly assist you. Otherwise, please leave a message and return your call when I am available. "
Most importantly, ensure that your clients are aware that your assigned staff will be looked after while you are on leave and that they have a point of contact on your team who can address any issues that arise during your absence.
5. Conduct a trial run
Do a test with your staff so you can assess what works, what needs to be modified, and whether any vital information is missing. For instance, work from home or stay in your office instead of the sales floor, and delegate tasks to your team.
Let the person who will be in charge to practice using keys, security codes, and other tools required to access and manage the business. Do this first on a regular business quiet day, then again on a more demanding day.
You can also consider employing mystery shoppers to put your employees' abilities to the test and report back so you can figure out how to improve. Allow your employees to take notes on any difficulties that arise so that you can review them when you return.
It's All About Planning
Taking time away from your small clothing business may seem scary at first, but it is critical for your physical and mental well-being, as well as the health of your business. You'll discover that taking a leave, even if it's for a trip, emergency, or so on, is easier than you ever imagined with a bit of planning and good communication.
Even before you get on your leave, all of the work that every small business owner has to do can exhaust you. The planning, packing, putting mail on hold. When you want to take a vacation, though, you must put just as much thought and plan into your business.
The more you can plan ahead of time or who will handle work while you are away—and who will be responsible for it—the more confident you can be that everything will run while you are away. The more you will be able to relax and enjoy your well-deserved vacation.