How to Take a Vacation
Why time off is so important.
Vacations can consist of Disneyland, a cruise, a road trip, an outdoor adventure or time at home. As a result of recent economic times, "staycations" have become a popular option for families. Vacations should not be work-related. It is about family and letting our bodies and minds determine what is needed, not a clock or the work we do.
My wife, Deb, and I both have birthdays in December and live in Massachusetts. So a cruise has been our one winter vacation every year for a long time. It is restful, refreshing and it's nice to be in warmer temps. We have never taken our two boys as it is just for us; we look forward to it every year.
When I talk to shop owners about taking a vacation, I hear:
"I need a vacation to recover from my vacation" or "There is so much work to come back to; why bother?"
Is a vacation something you really need to take? Why not just work and not have the hassle of getting this "vacation" done? Let's take a look at what a vacation is - or should be - and investigate why time off is so important.
Why do I need a vacation?
I would like to think we did it well. Our parents are all deceased, and the boys are on their own. Life is not the same now, and our vacations have changed.
A relaxing vacation can allow you to see much further into the future than if you stayed at work for years on end. Why do you think college professors take sabbaticals? Why do members of the clergy and rabbis go on retreat? Even the president has Camp David.
Why don't we all take vacations? I know some who never do and find that strange and troubling.
Dean Wisniewski, an ASA-member shop owner from West Brookfield, Mass., has his own Camp David. He has owned Deans Automotive for a long time. A few years ago, when housing prices started dropping, he and his wife bought a nice place by the beach in Rhode Island, about an hour and a half from home. Now when they need to get away, they're off to Narragansett. Their two kids, 12 and 14, love it and mom spends time with them at the summer home. Sometimes Dean drives down after the cars are fixed. Dean turns 50 next year and now he can get away without a hassle.
I posed some questions to shop owners for this study about why it's important to take a vacation, why more people don't take vacations, etc. A few excuses were common. Money is an issue for some; for others, it is staff. Some were afraid. Many didn't think they should go. But, if you don't deserve a vacation after a year of hard work, who does?
Health benefits of time off
Preparing for your vacation
Andy recently promoted Tom Warmuth to take over when he (Andy) is away from Rad Air Complete Car Care. A second home in Fort Myers, Fla., allows Andy and his wife (the kids are grown) to get away.
Andy is not the type to slow down, however, so he works from an office in his Fort Myers home and then takes some time off in the afternoon. I asked him when was the last time he took a "real" vacation and he couldn't remember. I hope he reads this article.
What good is a vacation if all you do is worry? Some positive benefits can happen while you are away from your company. Productivity will go up as your staff learns to trust themselves and come to you less often for advice. Finding key people and preparing them is a long-term process, but it's well worth the effort. When those people are in place, make sure you have policies for pricing, comebacks (heaven forbid) and emergencies.
The week before you leave, clean off your desk and tie up the loose ends. Go to work an hour earlier to get this job done. Don't expect to get ahead; you just don't want to be too far behind when you leave. With all this done, pack your bags, pick up a good book and get out of town. Relax! You will likely spend the first couple of days thinking about work. That's normal. But don't talk about work. If you are with your spouse, remember that they want to enjoy their vacation, too. Set some limits like never talking about work and not calling in.
I spoke with a former independent-technician-turned-dealer-tech, Taylor Purcell, from California. Taylor took ACDC's weeklong hybrid class. He had just returned from Maui with his wife, Julie. They like to surf and hike so their vacation was great. With no children yet, these adventures are commonplace. When I asked Taylor, "How do you think technicians are at taking vacations?" he said there are two types - those who can break away and just go, and those who have a hard time leaving work behind. Asked which one he was, he laughed and said, "I have a hard time but Julie makes sure we go."
What have you learned? Vacations can be good or bad. The good ones are less expensive and more real, on average. Vacations can bring people closer and help you see the big picture. Vacations are many things to many people. Shop owners need to relax more and should not be the only ones running the show.
So, will you take a vacation?
Editor's Note: This article is one of several management articles that will be contributed to AutoInc. this year by Automotive Management Institute (AMI) instructors. In 2011, AMI's knowledgeable instructors will continue covering a variety of topics designed to educate and train today's service and repair professional in AutoInc. To learn more about AMI, its courses and instructors, visit www.AMIonline.org. AMI administers the distinguished Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) program.
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