There’s a hairdresser in Toronto who wanted more clients … so she expanded her working hours from four days a week to five. Guess what happened? “My same clients spread out their visits over the five days – I was doing the same amount of work but working one day more each week. So I went back to a four day work week and my clients are just fine with that.”
Wouldn’t it be great if we could ‘train’ our clients to respect a set work schedule for us in retail travel!
One of the biggest changes in our business over the past 10 years has been the connectedness. The same wonderful Internet that can allow us to research African safaris and Antarctic cruises with a few keystrokes also means our clients can contact us instantly – at home, in our cars, and at our kid’s school recital. And the expectation is that you will respond.
How on earth can you keep this under control? Keep some sort of that elusive ‘work-life balance’?
First, it helps to resign yourself to the fact that you will be expected to respond virtually immediately. However not every communication is one that must be worked on immediately (e.g. a death in the family) versus someone just blue-skying some distant trip (maybe doing a villa rental for the family next year). In the latter case you can simply let the client know that you’re on it and will get back to them after some research, but you’ve got some great ideas already.
If you’re a leisure agent, acknowledge that Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, is not when your clients are thinking about their vacations. Many independent agents tell me their busiest inquiry time is Friday night and Sunday afternoon. So carve out some me-time at other times during the week.
One of our most successful Toronto-based independent agents has a significant L.A. celebrity clientele, so takes time off from work between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. (1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Los Angeles time) and resumes working after that. Ideal? Perhaps not for everybody. Does it work? You bet it does.
Sometimes a little extra communication can help to ‘train’ the clients. Let them know well in advance of any planned absences. While you’re away, make sure your out-of-office email response alerts them to who their contact is in your absence … or at least that you are out of town and may not be getting back to them as quickly as you normally do.
At the end of the day, all we have is our personal contacts and relationships. Clients may not need it now, but they want the info now. The Internet will always have answers a lot faster than you will. How you respond to clients who reach out to you, pretty jazzed about booking a trip, will speak volumes about how much you care.