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Scheduling Vacation Time During Summer Months


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The summer months are our busiest time of the year. It’s also the time that most people want to take time off and go away on a vacation, and that includes our employees. I have always struggled with this, and have tried for years to persuade my employees to consider vacation time during slower months. I have not been as successful as I would like. I don’t want to sound like a tyrant, but to have top producing techs taking weeks off in the summer back to back can kill momentum and hurt sales.

 

How do shop owners handle vacations? Is it and issue the way I see it?

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I don't have employees at this time, but thinking back to being an employee, the best way to make one mad is to deny them vacation time when it works for THEM, not for you. The reason for vacation time is for them to get away, relax and have fun. If you deny them the ability to do that when they want to, it isn't fun anymore and defeats the purpose. Like Frogfinder pointed out, many take their vacations when their spouses or kids have time too, and that is not in October or January. Sure losing the employee's skills and abilities hurts, especially when you are paying them for their time off, but shouldn't that be figured into the year's budget just like warranty come-backs? And since you are dealing with people (humans not just technicians), who are inherently selfish by nature, they will want to take their vacations when they will enjoy them most, not when it is convenient for you, so shouldn't that be factored into the equation too?

 

How do you try to encourage them to take their vacations during off peak months? Do you simply deny them the time off? Do you exhibit an attitude or displeasure? Do you offer them extra time, extra pay or simply just tell them that you want them to wait until November? You might be able to get away with instituting a policy that no one can take vacation during a single month, presumably your busiest month, but I highly doubt you will keep your best people if you encumber them too much. Two years ago my wife wanted me to take a real vacation, a week off. Something I hadn't done in 15 years. So I looked back at my sales for each week over time I was in business and found my slowest week was the beginning of August. So that's when I closed and went on vacation. For you with many employees you may institute some restrictions like only one guy off at a time, no one can go the week of July 4th (or any single week/month you see fit) or you could say gee the first week of each month is pretty busy, so no vacations. Or, depending on your vacation plan, typical of my knowledge is 40 hours for full time regardless of average hours billed (flat-rate) or overtime worked (hourly wage). You could incentivize them to take their vacations during off-months by adding hours, like maybe 5 hours if they take vacation during the winter or $25.00 extra if they go anytime except June/July/August. But if you are going to keep your best techs happy, it must be their idea, their choice and there has to be a tangible incentive to them.

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  • 1 month later...

When we speak of creating a vacation schedule, I don't know if it's denying someone or just trying to be fair. We have 15 employees. The goal is to make sure that everyone is taken care of, when it comes to vacation. I also think that an employee who as 10, 15 or more years with a company should have a little more say than a new-hire. Each year, as we grow, it becomes a juggling act. A company has an obligation to also remain profitable; in addition to recognizing that the people in the company are the most important element of the business.

 

Small business is dependent on its workforce. There are not a lot of substitutes when one or more employees are not at work. The work simply does not get done, that would normally have gotten done by those on vacation.

 

I guess there is no easy answer, but to factor vacation time into your business plan. Everyone needs down time and everyone looks forward to it.

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