My current career as a consultant involves a fair amount of interaction with people. When I am in my home office I have a schedule of one-hour calls with clients most days of the week. I feel responsible for improving the chances of these good folks being successful in their business and personal lives.At the same time I do like to do other things besides work! Hiking, fishing, reading, going to the theater and traveling are some of those things.
Trying to make consulting calls while doing these activities would be difficult, if not impossible, and would defeat the purpose of having a bit of non-work-related fun. But I don’t want my clients to be surprised if they try to reach me and I am not available.
This was more of an issue this fall due to an unusual amount of travel, both work and personal, that I was going to be doing. On the personal side my wife, Nina, and myself traveled to Buenos Aires and then onto Antarctica, a trip that involved being gone three weeks. So what I did towards the end of the summer was send an email to my clients. It went like this:
Dear Consulting Clients,
Thanks for having me work with you. I want you to know that I will be traveling (a mix of business and personal) much of September into December. The result is that my availability for consulting calls will be more limited than usual. Consequently the spacing between our calls will likely be a little greater than it normally is.
I do look forward to seeing many of you at the Remodelers Advantage Roundtable Meetings in Charleston, S.C., The Remodeling Show in Baltimore, Md., and JLC Live in Portland Ore. I very much appreciate your understanding and your interest in having me work with you.
By giving these good folks advance notice and then reminding them of my upcoming limited availability when we were on calls I reduced the potential for unwanted stress for them and for me.
How do you prepare for being away? Who do you tell? Consider letting more than your employees know. Let your clients know. They will think better of you for doing so, they might be more likely to make referrals to your company, and they will sincerely be happy for you being able to get away.
Don’t believe me? Try it!