The Art of Automation and Summer Vacations

Nicole Dwyer

How can we possibly be thinking of vacations now? 

It’s easy. Because you need one.

The American Psychological Association takes a regular “pulse” to measure the stress levels of adults in the U.S.   In 2019, the average stress level was 4.9 on a ten point scale. In May 2020, our collective stress level increased to 5.9.

Additional stress factors include: 

  • Americans are working 3 hours more a day since coronavirus started, averaging 11 hours in front of their computers
  • In the UK, France, Spain and Canada, the work day has increased by 2 hours
  • 50% of Americans are afraid of being laid off due to the lingering effects of Covid-19
    • 45% are still concerned about a reduction of hours or salary
  • 83% of Americans are stressed about social unrest (racial issues), which has jumped from 66% in 2019

With all the pressures of keeping your business moving forward, tension in the economy and politics, and concern about how to manage back-to-school, corporate events (cancel or don’t cancel?) in the fall, it’s no wonder you’re stressed.

So how do you manage a vacation in the time of Covid-19?

You’re going to argue that keeping the AR wheels on the bus is critical to your business. And you’d be right. Your cash flow and your customers are your most valuable business assets, and in AR, you have responsibility for both. But when you consider that summer is nearly over and your stress levels are higher than ever, which means likely your health and relationships are impacted, then it’s time to step back and take a well-earned break.

So let’s assume you’re going to wear your mask, wash your hands, drive instead of fly, and follow other germ-reducing tactics on your adventure.

Instead, let’s talk about your business.

Your business should be able to survive a week or two, even three, without you overseeing and managing every step. Even if you’re a smaller business and do not have a lot of resources to pick up the slack, there are tools and processes you can put in place to ensure that you’re not leaving your coworkers in a mess nor coming back to piles of paperwork and unhappy customers.

Here are four key steps:

  1. Automate your invoicing: whether you are at your desk in your home office or on the wide open roads of North Dakota, this is a no-brainer. The processes to support your cash flow should be running on a cloud-base, automated platform to ensure you have clear visibility into sales and a reliable way to forecast revenue.
  2. Automate your collections: A collections process that is clearly defined and communicated is critical for ensuring your cash flow is consistent. Automating steps in this process - such as issuing payment reminders and follow-ups - keeps both your team and your customers on top of due dates and invoice amounts, encouraging a higher rate of on-time payments.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate: Prior to your vacation, ensure your employees know when you’re leaving and how long you’ll be gone. If appropriate, you might communicate this to your customer base, as well. If you prefer that your customers aren’t privy to your personal plans, schedule automated communications. Pre-scheduled emails, or even Facebook posts or Tweets, if you use those mediums, can make it appear you are hunched over your keyboard in the office rather than a Coney Dog in New York. Regular communication is key to maintaining strong customer relationships and loyalty, so ensure this is part of your vacation-taking strategy.
  4. Have an emergency code:  Look, vacations are for unplugging and taking a break from work.  While some of you will fight that and still be constantly checking your phones, this is not the recommended path. Instead, meet with your team prior to your time off and define what an “emergency” is and the situations that are vacation-interruption-worthy.  Then agree to an emergency code. If they text you this code, it means they actually have an emergency situation that requires your personal attention.

These four steps are neither expensive nor time consuming. But they are critical to ensuring that you actually take a break from your 11-hour days and enjoy a change of pace.

But we’re into the last official month of summer, the final few weeks before we have to determine if we’re sending our kids back to the classroom full-time, part-time, or only through Google Classroom. And we don’t know what else fall is going to bring. 

So if you’re not going to take a vacation now, when are you?

Nicole Dwyer
About the Author

Nicole Dwyer is Chief Product Officer for YayPay, bringing more than 10 years’ experience in accounts payable and receivable technology to ensure YayPay continues to meet the needs of its customers. Having spent her entire career in commercial payments, Nicole understands high- and low-value payment systems, the complexities of how businesses pay and get paid, and has worked with distributed teams spanning the globe. She is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Residing in New Hampshire with her husband, daughter, and son, they spend their time outdoors and creating new adventures.

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