Client communication may not be the first thing that comes to mind as you prepare your business for maternity leave, but it is a key part of the equation.
Particularly for a service-based business, a thoughtful and considerate communication plan will allow you to take care of your current clients, keep nurturing prospective clients, and return to your business without feeling like you have to shout from the rooftops that you are back.
A solid communication plan for maternity leave includes the following 4 strategies:
1. Maternity leave notification
Let your current clients know about your pregnancy and clearly communicate what this means for them. This is an email that should be sent once you have figured out the details of how much time you will be off, what kind of availability they can expect from you, and what new limitations/boundaries you may be rolling out. The email should communicate that you have a solid plan and make readers/clients feel well taken care of, including details about how their needs will be addressed while you are on leave, which brings me to point #2…
2. Communication management while on leave
You will need to think ahead to how you will address customer service and client emails while on leave. Be realistic! Responding to emails as you nurse may sound feasible now, but take the time to consider a scenario where you will not be as available as you currently are. What are simple ways that emails can be taken care of with limits on your own time? Some ideas for how you can start are:
- Inbox handoff to a VA
- Prewritten responses to FAQs
- An autoresponder that communicates response time
3. Prospective client communication
My most streamlined recommendation for how to continue to plan for a prospective client while on leave is to have everything a client would want to know laid out in an autoresponder email, with relevant links as necessary:
- Link to basic service info and prices
- Next availability for new clients and how to be added to a waitlist
- Any paperwork/application they can fill out now
- Your expected response time and follow up process to their initial inquiry
4. Return to work notification
Clients will always appreciate a more personal update. Let them know that you have returned from leave (baby pics always receive rave reviews as well) and be clear about what “being back” means! Will you have regular hours or a different work schedule than before? Will your availability for calls, emails, or other ways you engage with clients go back to how it was before or will you have a new normal to work with?
Again, make them feel informed, taken care of and provide clarity about what your return means for them.
Want more resources about communicating your leave to clients? Check out Chapter 6 of The Expecting Entrepreneur.