If You Went Away for a Month, Would Your Customers Come Back?

It’s a provocative question, isn’t it? If you paused your business for a whole month, would your customers find somewhere else to go or would they hold out and wait for you? Does it depend on what you’re selling? For example, if you’re an accountant, would your clients wait out those 30 days or would they find someone else? What if you’re a doctor? What if you run a bagel shop?

And if people did go somewhere else for those 30 days, do you think they’d eventually come back to you? Are you that confident in what you give to your customers — I’m not talking the specific product or service, but what you GIVE them — that you know they’d come back because what you “give,” they can’t get anywhere else?

Intriguing, right? And you probably think it’s just a hypothetical. But that’s exactly what my favorite bagel shop in my hometown did this summer. It took the month of July off.

I’m a semi-regular customer. I go through bagel-craving spurts, so I might go a month or two (max) without a visit. Well, I showed up at the end of June one day, craving a bagel, only to be greeted by a handmade sign saying they were closed until late July. I actually had to read the note twice. We were talking a whole month. Whoa, I thought. That’s not going to be good for business. I went somewhere else for my bagel (it wasn’t as good) and filed away that Cafe Bagel was off limits until the end of July.

Well, guess what? I went back. Numerous times. And so did everyone else, it seems, given the full parking lot and the regulars (I know they’re regulars because the owner often greets people by name).

I don’t know if the owner simply “had” to go, business be damned (he told me he’d gone to visit his mother in Egypt, which is where he’s from), or if he simply assumed that because he makes the best bagels in town, the people would come back.

But it makes for an interesting challenge, doesn’t it? If you went away for a month, would your customers remember to come back? Or would they move on for good? If you think they might move on, what can you do to change the way you do business to ensure that they don’t?

Go do it.

4 replies
  1. Susan
    Susan says:

    Interesting question, Robyn! I think it depends on your location, the nature of your business, and the loyalty of your customers. In other parts of the world, a month-long vacation is actually the norm, so no one bats an eye if you closed up shop for several weeks at a time. It’s more unusual here in the US (though people do take a month or more of maternity leave), so if I were planning a prolonged absence, I’d be sure to give my clients ample notice and try to get their needs met before I left so they’d be less likely to look elsewhere. I might also refer them to another freelancer I trusted and maybe I could cover for that freelancer when they needed to be gone.

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  2. robynbradley
    robynbradley says:

    Excellent point, Susan. And one more reason why Mr. Clooney and I should retire to his Tuscan villa. Now. Seriously, you bring up a good point — it’s definitely a different mind set in the U.S., and it would depend on the business. For us freelancers, I like the idea of having someone cover, like you said.

    Reply
  3. Christine
    Christine says:

    Great post, Robyn. I work with a lot of freelancers over and over again, and if any of them took a month off–and gave me notice, of course–I would surely go back to them when they returned. I find it hard to find really good freelancers, and taking a chance on new people is a risk of both time and money, so
    I tend to stick with my regulars, regardless of their vacation habits. Bottom line, they’re good at what they do–writing about science and medicine, getting me their stuff on time, etc.

    Reply
  4. robynbradley
    robynbradley says:

    You bring up a good point, Christine. There’s a difference between “flaking out” and letting people know you’re going to take time off. I think we’ve all probably worked with the former. No matter how good they are, the flakiness always ruins it for me.

    Reply

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