What’s the trick to keeping your practice booked and busy? For Kate Matheson, owner at Matheson & Co, it’s not about flashy marketing schemes or offering constant discounts.
As a business coach for health and wellness practitioners, Kate’s approach is all about taking control of your operations: so you can grow your business sustainably, and drastically reduce the amount of time you spend marketing yourself. Introverts, rejoice!
Check out her top tips below.
1. Be Intentional with your schedule — and visualize it!
So much of your day-to-day as a solo practitioner or business owner can feel reactive. You get an email in your inbox, you reply to it. An issue arises with a client, you respond. It can start to feel like you’re putting out a hundred small fires a day, and squeezing in business tasks during those rare moments you have a gap in your schedule.
Kate’s suggestion for becoming proactive, rather than reactive, is to start by “batching and blocking” your schedule. As a business owner, you’re wearing many hats — but you don’t have to wear them all at once. “Batching” simply means grouping similar tasks together, whether it’s responding to emails or posting on social media, then blocking off a dedicated chunk of time to do only that task. The idea is to stay in the same headspace, so you’re not jumping between wildly different types of work. That way, you’re more likely to focus and accomplish your goals without getting distracted.
Start by figuring out the things you’d like to prioritize, then determine out their cadence: are they daily, weekly, or quarterly tasks? When you’ve sorted that out, take it one step further by blocking off the time in your calendar so you can have a visual reminder each day. Remember, you’re more likely to do it if you can see it!
2. Think beyond client-facing hours
Practitioners may feel like their main priority is seeing clients and helping them feel their best.
While that might be partially true, it’s not the whole story. All of the back-end administrative and operational tasks you do are essential for getting your clients the best results possible. That’s because they support your business, which allows you to focus on client work.
Think of these tasks as “income generating tasks.” Even though it’s not a 1:1 client session, for example, they still set you up for success down the line. Reframing your perspective in this way will make it easier for you to make time for these tasks without feeling like you’re begrudgingly doing chores.
3. Limit your booking hours — nobody trusts an empty calendar!
It might seem counterintuitive, but making yourself look busier than you are is key to securing more bookings.
That being said, make sure you’re continuing to offer a variety of days and times. Having a mix of mornings, evenings, weekdays, and weekends is still important — it’s no use appearing busy if clients can’t find a time that works within their availability.
Be conscious about your clientele and their typical treatment, and consider how you might open your calendar to best suit their needs.
4. Get in the habit of following up
By now, you probably already know that scheduling your client for their next appointment when they’re already in-clinic is a low-effort way to maximize your bookings. If you ever run into some resistance, Kate suggests practicing your communication and delivery so clients understand how important it is for them to stay on top of their treatment plan.
Beyond that, Kate is a big fan of a follow-up message. And if you’re worried about being annoying, don’t. “People will thank you,” she assures. “You’re going to start to create more loyal clients who adhere to their treatments and rebook [themselves].”
Pro tip: sending follow-up messages to clients who haven’t booked their next appointment is a great weekly task to “batch and block” in your calendar. Try using a templated email to help speed up the process, but make sure you’re still adding a personal touch with every communication.
To take it a step further, you can send out friendly, automated emails to clients who haven’t been in for a few weeks or months. This is a great way to reinvigorate those relationships.
5. Don’t be shy to ask for some R&R: referrals and reviews
Asking for referrals or reviews might feel uncomfortable at first, but with a bit of practice, it can become a standardized process. Remember, people love to know what their friends and family are doing and enjoying, whether it’s an engaging podcast, a new product, or an exceptional service – like yours!
You can either ask in-clinic, which means no additional work for you, or you can add it onto some of the proactive emails you’re already sending out. As for who to ask, stick to clients who have been in to see you a certain amount of times or have recently had a great treatment outcome.
“This is how you start to leverage the snowball effect,” Kate says. “You’re not waiting for it to happen. You are making it happen. And, I think, actually providing a much higher quality of care when you do.”
Pro tip: If you’re feeling nervous, start with email requests and work up to asking clients in person. This is a simple way to get in the habit while removing a layer of the initial discomfort!
For more from Kate, check out her session from Jane’s Allied Summer School.