The peak summer vacation season is in full swing, and with it comes the dilemma small business owners have been facing since the beginning of the Industrial Age. On the one side, research has shown the therapeutic value of taking time off to clear your head and recharge your batteries. On the other side, though, is the very real fear that if you're not available when a massage client has an urgent need or something goes wrong—as Murphy's Law dictates it will—there won't be anything left to which you can come back. Even if you do decide to get away, that same fear can prevent you from enjoying vacation.
Fortunately, these days it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing choice. There are technologies available that can help you stay in contact with the office and/or your clients while still allowing you to get away.
Virtual Phone Service for Small Business
These services are the most significant vacation-enablers, because they offer flexibility and mobility at a low cost. A virtual phone service provides businesses with a single phone number for the entire business. The service then allows you to assign extensions to different people within your massage practice or clinic, both inside and outside of the main office. A virtual receptionist greets callers with a professional greeting and provides a dial-by-name directory, generally helping callers get where they need to go. These services also include professional business features, such as voicemail and conference calling, that are normally only found in expensive corporate phone systems.
Where they really pay off come vacation time is with their smart call-forwarding capabilities. You can set your office phone to forward all of your calls to your mobile phone, allowing you to answer them just as though you're in the office. You can even specify when the phone rings and when it goes to voicemail if you want to keep normal business hours while you're basking in the sun or climbing that mountain.
Another nice feature is the ability to choose how incoming calls are directed based on the phone number. This way you can easily see if the incoming call is personal or business-related. Having that information before you answer can help you decide if you need to find somewhere quieter, or if you're even in a position to take a business call.
If you don't want to be disturbed at the moment but want to stay on top of things, you can set your virtual phone service to send all calls to your business voicemail, then receive an email telling you when you have voicemails waiting. It's a great way to organize your time so you can both participate with the family and service your customers.
As long as you have mobile service—whether on your own phone or one you pick up in another country—you can stay on top of the business.
Internet Fax Service
If your business relies on faxes, having an internet fax service is indispensable during a vacation. After all, if you're vacationing hundreds or thousands of miles away from your practice, it's going to be a little tough to pop in just to check faxes. Of course, even if you're enjoying a "staycation," you probably want to avoid the office so you don't stop by for a few minutes and wind up there all day.
With an internet fax service, you can send and receive faxes anywhere you can get an internet connection and on any device—a laptop, smartphone or even one of those hotel lobby PCs. You have a choice of using your email account or a secure online portal, so there are no worries about how to get connected.
If the fax requires further action from someone else, forwarding it is as easy as forwarding an email. You can even add comments before you send. With most internet fax services, you can even have the fax sent to one or more emails as well as your own—just in case you're having too much fun to take care of it yourself right away.
Take Your Time
Technology has definitely added to the sense of urgency in our everyday lives. But the right technologies can also help restore some order. This summer, make time for yourself by signing on to a virtual phone service and internet fax service. It'll make getting away a literal day at the beach.