I’ll never forget my visit to France in 2006. Spending a month in the summer, engaged with other students from around the world, in one of the cultural capitals of the globe – but also discovering that, come August, the country’s attitude toward vacation is decidedly laissez-faire. Many businesses – large and small – reduce their hours significantly or close outright during the height of summer for a long vacation. This can make it tough for a visitor to do their day-to-day upkeep! Such a lengthy summer vacation is not just a French phenomenon – much of Europe has woven the idea of a lengthy summer break into their cultural fabric. Norway’s 4.6 million people dedicate July to three weeks of national idyll called “fellesferie.” Even Britons are embracing the idea: a 2015 report, from virtual assistant service providers ava, showed that almost 60% of the UK would welcome an annual summer ‘shutdown.’
Some business owners in North America often balk at the suggestion that it might be valuable to interrupt regular operations during a peak period, and for such a long stretch. Think of the revenue gone to waste! Think of the logistical juggling required! Some analysts posit that a long summer vacation in Europe has increased the likelihood of major financial crises arriving in August. If the business environment is sluggish, owners may feel as though they can’t afford to take time off – and when business is booming, it’s tempting to want to make the most out of every customer coming through your door.
On the other hand, access to time off is a widely studied element of business culture and employee satisfaction: the ability to take time to refresh and restore one’s personal wellbeing has clearly translated into increased long term productivity in a number of studies. Using downtime wisely – to review documentation and planning – is also a potential benefit for the business owner who may need the time away from daily operations to survey their broader goals. It may not make sense for small businesses to take a single block of summer vacation time off en masse – especially if their customer base is made up largely of new visitors as opposed to informed, repeating ones. Allowing your employees the flexibility to choose time for their own vacations is a competing factor of value in the establishment of office-wide satisfaction.
If you worry about what will happen to your cash flow during time off – as bills add up, and revenue needed to cover them might slow down – consider the effect that more equitable and modern forms of financial management, including financial technology services, have on stabilizing this most important of business metrics. Financing options that scale repayment with business volume – such as merchant advance products – are ideally suited to managing the variability inherent in any seasonal business. Fintech has improved our ability to create a cash flow buffer that does not drain disproportionately when your business decides to take the time off it may need.