My husband and I are planning a vacation, our first since mid-2008 so we are very excited to have some time off. On top of the normal fun of a vacation, we are making this one a little longer. We’ll be visiting family as well as doing some good old relaxing so it’s something I am really looking forward to.

But as any online seller knows, there is a certain amount of stress involved with leaving your business for even a day. Sure, I’ll be checking email whenever we go but running a business is a full time job so you’d either need to work full time while on vacation or just commit to letting things slide for a few days. And maybe I’m a control freak but there is no one I can leave behind to babysit the business that is a substitute for me.

I’m running around like a headless chicken trying to deal with all the problems that I know will pop-up if I leave…

  • a buyer wants to return an item and gets upset because I don’t email him back seconds later
  • someone who asked to return an item weeks ago finally gets around to returning it and wants his refund ASAP
  • a buyer buys something while I’m gone and wants to know why it wasn’t shipped already
  • a good business opportunity crops up while I’m away (new client, new connection, etc) and by the time I email them back, I’ve missed my chance

Now, sure, I can set an email auto-reply to try to head off some of these problems. I can set a vacation notice on my store that lets buyers know that they can browse, but to expect a delay in shipping if they buy. I can email everyone with an outstanding issue to head questions off at the pass.

But let’s be honest, I’ve done all of these things and there is always still the buyer or client who ignores the emails completely and still freaks out because I wasn’t at their instant beck and call so stress is still very much a factor. People also both ignore or miss your auto-replies and have no concept of time and expect you to be back before your vacation is up. We’ve all experienced the buyer that works his or herself into a frenzy with 20 emails sent in less than 24 hours because they didn’t get a response.

Now my Amazon sales are going to be fine, all I do is source my products to Amazon and they handle everything else so they can babysit themselves while I’m gone which is a huge selling point of that marketplace. Worst thing that happens is that Amazon runs out of stock but I can just send them more when I get back.

But let’s talk about how buyers freaking out because you are away translates into feedback on other marketplaces. Now I’m obviously talking specifically about eBay as we get into a discussion DSRs but I think that bad feedback due to buyer misunderstanding applies in any circumstance, no matter what the platform. Is it worth it to sweat any bad feedback that might result for taking a break or should you just be zen that misunderstandings are going to happen but you shouldn’t let them ruin your vacation? Do you just work a certain number of low DSRs into your calculations for the month and figure it will all come out in the wash at the end? Should you be sitting on the beach, worrying about what your buyers are thinking?

Now, I know what I am going to do. I’m going to take any precautions that I can and then just be zen about it. It may mean a little bit of stressing before the vacation to get my replacements, auto-emails and other details in order but it gives me the feeling (however deluded) of being to kick back while actually on vacation without stressing.

My philosophy has always been that there is no feedback bad enough that it won’t get buried but good feedback in a few weeks and that philosophy still applies with Top-Rated and DSRs because of the rule of averages. So if someone wants to ding me while I’m gone even after all my efforts and I can’t fix/retract it upon my return, eh. It’s well worth a little time off.

But how does taking a vacation effect your business?