How can I maintain stable relationships with clients if I have unexpected challenges that might force me to put business on hold temporarily?
Let people know what you’re going through. Your customers are people too, with families and their own curveballs. We often assume that we should keep a lid on everything, all the time. If you are facing a massive change or curveball, let your customers know that there will be an impact and what it will be. If you are now running a week longer than usual while a machine is out of service, why promise a deadline you cannot make? If you will be out of the business for family or health reasons for a period, help your customers meet their needs by working with them to get their orders done before and after your absence, and ideally even during your absence with the help of your backup plan partners. No customer likes to be lied to, ignored, or left in the dark.
Explain the situation, how it will impact them, and what you are doing about it. The majority of customers will stick with you now and be there for their next order as well.