If you’re busy running your own business, it can be difficult to find the time for a prolonged break. But taking time off as a franchisee is imperative; it allows you to protect your mental health and return refreshed and full of ideas. Here are some of the best franchisee tips on taking time off as a business owner.
According to a survey by Iwoca, 73 percent of business owners in the UK expect to take fewer than five days off in the next year. What’s more, 37 percent will have no holiday at all. In fact, under four percent of bosses take the standard 25 days of annual leave afforded most employees.
Knowing how to take time off as a franchisee is vital, not only for your mental wellbeing, but also the health of your business. Here are some of our top franchisee tips on taking time off as a business owner without stressing about your unit.
How to take time off as a franchisee
1. Consider a staycation
You don’t necessarily need to get on an aeroplane to have a holiday. Booking a countryside retreat or even just relaxing at home allows you to rest without having to travel miles from your business - and shell out for the privilege.
If being easily accessible helps you feel calmer about leaving your employees, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t holiday nearby.
2. Take long weekends
Taking time off as a business owner doesn’t always mean booking a two-week all-inclusive holiday in the Caribbean. Having regular three-day weekends can give you the chance to de-stress without staying away from your desk for long periods at a time. Employees are unlikely to feel anxious if you’re unavailable for just one day of the week.
Plus, organising long weekends gives you the chance to make fun weekend plans more often. And - perhaps the best benefit - it makes the work week shorter when you get back.
3. Build a culture of trust
If you’re stepping away for a few days or more, you’re probably going to have to rely on your employees to take the reins in your absence. When your team trusts each other, they can work collaboratively in an effective way to navigate issues and keep the business afloat until you get back.
Making a continued effort to build a positive company culture will help you in the long run when you need to put your trust in your team.
4. Plan well in advance
Preparing for a holiday ahead of time is a great way to make sure things run smoothly while you’re gone. Aim to take time off during your business’s ‘off season’ or quieter periods.
Also, avoid arranging any new activities during your break, whether it’s launching a new product, marketing campaign or refreshed website, or onboarding a member of staff. Ideally, to minimise the chances of things going wrong while you're trying to relax, try to maintain ‘business as usual’ during the period leading up to and during your holiday.
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5. Delegate tasks to employees
Although you may think no one will understand and operate the business as well as you, it’s important to get people in place to step up while you’re away. If you already have a workforce, you’ll need to choose the right person to oversee the unit.
After all, the franchise will have been designed to be easily replicated and run by a multitude of different people. So, just as the franchisor taught you to run the business, you should show one of your team how to do it. At the same time, you’ll be supporting them with their professional development.
6. Hire a brilliant assistant
If you don’t have any staff, you should approach the franchisor about asking another franchisee to cover your geographical area or hiring someone to manage operations while you’re away. You never know, another franchisee may have employees who are knowledgeable and confident enough to step up to the challenge of running your franchise unit for you.
Not only is it good for your own mental health to take the occasional break, you'll quickly find out who your best employees really are as you prepare to keep the ship sailing while you're away.
—Ty Kiisel, On Deck
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7. Train up the people you leave in charge
Even if you enlist the help of experienced people, they’re unlikely to have an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of your franchise unit. So, you’ll need to be prepared to provide sufficient training for your stand-in.
Give your helper a list of essential procedures and information well in advance of your break, so they have time to digest it and ask questions. If possible, let them practise managing the unit for a few days before you leave.
8. Prepare for worst-case scenarios
Unfortunately, any number of issues could crop up while you’re off work, and training staff for ‘business as usual’ only gets you so far. You should try to envisage worst-case scenarios, and put measures in place so employees can deal with them if crises strike.
In a perfect world, you would prepare for the worst possible eventualities before you leave, write down a carefully considered plan of action and make sure staff understand their responsibilities.
9. Set parameters for contacting you
Before you head off, it’s worth thinking about how much work you’d like to do - if any - while away. Let your staff know how often you’ll check emails, when you’ll be available and at what point they should contact you if there’s a problem.
You and your employees may have different perspectives on what constitutes an emergency, so be clear about the specific situations in which they should get in touch.
10. Establish boundaries for ‘work time’
There’s little point spending hours planning your time off if you just get sucked into work while you’re supposed to be relaxing. Technology allows us to be in touch 24/7, but it’s not good for our mental health. Stick to the hours you’ve told your team you’ll be available and then aim to switch off, both literally and metaphorically, to enjoy your free time.
Constantly checking up on your stand-in franchisee will not only make them think you don't trust them, but is also likely to annoy the people around you.
11. Let clients know
If your franchise model is based on providing a service to clients, don’t assume you’ll be able to slip away without them noticing. Be proactive in telling them when you’ll be gone from your desk; they may not be happy to receive an automated out-of-office response when trying to get hold of you.
Also, try to rearrange meetings or deadlines where possible and reassure your clients that your leave will not impact the service they receive.
12. Prioritise rest as you would prioritise work
Franchisees can become so invested in the success of their unit, they struggle to step back and relinquish control to someone else. However, taking time off as a business owner is essential.
If you find yourself postponing your hard-earned rest, try thinking of it this way: as humans, we need downtime in order to come back refreshed, inspired and motivated. If you don’t take a break, you may end up burning out and your business will probably suffer.
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Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©