For business owners, taking time off for vacation can feel impossible—or at the very least like more trouble than it’s worth. Balancing the demands of your franchise with the need for personal time is tough, often leaving you feeling tethered to your operations. However, we all need time to unplug, both for our own well-being and for the success of the business that may depend on us. In this time off guide for small businesses, we'll explore why it's essential to carve out time for yourself, some strategies to ensure your franchise thrives in your absence, and tips that will help you make the most of your vacation. Now, let's dive into how you can find that perfect balance between running your business and taking the well-deserved break you need.

Tip #1: Plan the right time for your vacation

There’s no “perfect” time to take time off for franchise owners, but with a bit of strategic thinking, you can ensure that your business runs smoothly while you’re out. Set yourself up for success by planning in advance to take your vacation for a time when business may have naturally slowed. Look back at your records and see if you can pick out when there may be peak seasons when things get really busy. Some businesses might see a huge boost in activity around seasonal employment—like the holiday season or back-to-school season—while summer may be slower. By avoiding these high-demand times, you can plan your vacation during slower periods when your absence will have less of an impact.  

Next, take a look at your calendar. Do you know of any major events or deadlines coming up? Product launches, promotional events, or important deadlines will definitely need your leadership, so it’s wise to steer clear of these dates when you’re looking to manage vacation as a business owner.

And lastly, planning time off doesn’t have to revolve solely around your work priorities. Balancing your personal and professional commitments is key, and certain times may work better than others for members of your family or for those you may be visiting or traveling with. With a bit of careful planning, you can enjoy a well-deserved break while ensuring your franchise continues to thrive.

Woman sitting in a lounge chair looking at the ocean with a laptop computer on her lap

Tip #2: Get your staff ready to run things while you take time off

With your dates in mind, it’s time to move on to making sure your staff is ready and capable to run the business while you take time off. Think of your time off as a great chance for staff development—both now as you get them ready and in the future when you’re actually out of the office. 

Now is the time to take stock of your team’s skills and experience to see if or where they might need a little boost. By identifying these areas in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to offer some training and cross-training opportunities ahead of your vacation so your team will feel well-prepared for your absence. You should also encourage your employees to communicate openly with you about areas where they’d like additional training; it may be that members of your team have been looking for ways to broaden their skill set, and your upcoming vacation is a great reason to get that process underway. 

It can feel nerve-wracking to hand over the reins to your team. After all, you’re used to being the person who handles a lot of the decision-making and shoulders a huge range of day-to-day tasks! But by letting your team temporarily take over your responsibilities, you’re helping them grow professionally, gain confidence, and build their leadership and problem-solving skills. Not only that, but they’ll also be much better prepared for the next time you take a well-deserved vacation, so you can continue to enjoy yourself knowing your franchise is in good hands.

Oh, and one last thing about prepping your staff: Don’t forget to debrief when you get back! Be sure to check in to see how things went, give feedback, and celebrate their achievements to reinforce their growth and show your appreciation. 

Tip #3: Remember to disconnect and set boundaries 

As your time off approaches, you should be sure to set firm but friendly boundaries with both your clients and staff about your availability. For business owners, it’s tempting to still work while you’re on vacation, because you feel like you can’t truly “let go.” Team members and clients may also expect to still be able to contact you as they would on any other day, even though you’re taking PTO. 

Set the expectation now that you will truly be taking this time off and that your vacation is important, necessary, and earned. Make an effort to unplug from work-related activities—turn off email notifications, resist the urge to check in constantly, and trust your team to handle things while you're gone. This ensures that your time off will be truly refreshing, so you can come back feeling energized and ready to dive back into work.

Tip #4: Maintain minimal contact and oversight

The time has (finally) come for you to begin your vacation! Stick to those boundaries you’ve set with your team and clients. You’ll want to maintain minimal (if any) contact with your team—but you should still have some processes set in place should a crisis occur. 

Establish clear protocols for emergencies or critical situations, and let your staff know exactly when and how to reach you if necessary. This helps ensure that real issues are addressed promptly without putting you at risk of getting pulled back into daily operations.

It may be that there are some tasks that can truly only be done by you, like maybe a particular payroll approval or a hiring decision. If these can’t be handled before your vacation, clearly define how and when it can get done while you’re off, so all you have to do is quickly log in and then move on with your day. 

If you’re feeling anxious about being away from your business, you can also set up some automated reports or scheduled updates that can provide you with a little peace of mind while allowing you to enjoy your time away. But remember: Balancing oversight with the need for complete disconnection is key. Trust your team to handle day-to-day tasks and resist the urge to micromanage! 

Tip #5: Consider a temporary business closure 

Throughout this process, you might wonder if a temporary business closure is better for your business than you taking time off as a business owner. While this might be achievable with some thoughtful planning, first evaluate whether it’s even possible—check if your contract allows it and think about how a closure might affect your finances and your employees' paychecks. It's important to make sure your team is taken care of, whether through planned time off or other arrangements.

If you do decide to close, you’ll still need to communicate with your clients and set their expectations about your upcoming time away. Let them know in advance about the closure, how long it will last, and any alternative arrangements you have in place. This transparency helps keep everyone in the loop and maintains trust.

You might also want to use automated tools or services to handle customer interactions while you’re away. Automated email responses, chatbots, and other technologies can help manage inquiries and keep your clients informed during your absence.

Finally, plan for a smooth reopening. Have a clear strategy for getting back to business when you return. This might include a team meeting to remind everyone of current projects, reviewing pending tasks, and ensuring everything is set for a seamless transition back to normal operations. 

Vacations are not just a luxury but a necessary investment

Planning time off as a franchise owner involves strategic considerations such as analyzing business cycles, setting boundaries, ensuring staff readiness, and potentially considering temporary closures. But by preparing carefully, you can  ensure minimal disruption to your business while maximizing the benefits of a well-deserved break. This ultimately benefits both you and your staff by contributing to a happier, more productive workplace where everyone can thrive—and is encouraged to take time away.

Want to know how Spherion franchise owners make time off for themselves? Email me and I'll show you how you can be part of a franchise community that takes care of candidates, employers, AND our franchise owners. 

About the Author
Dan Brunell
Dan Brunell

Dan Brunell

Regional Vice President of Franchise Development

Dan’s background as a senior executive in the staffing industry and founder of a top franchise brokerage equips him with more than 30 years of experience helping prospective franchisees succeed.

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