Today is a beautiful day…the sky is bright blue, the sun is shining and all is right with the world. Which is why two of my clients cancelled their appointments. They didn’t exactly attribute it to the weather, but I know better.
When winter turns to spring, cancellations go up. In my office, May is officially known as “The Hundred Days of May”. Why? It’s the end of the school year in the south. Classroom celebrations, sports banquets and graduations abound. It’s endless. Memorial Day weekend, the city empties out and everyone exhales. Except us.
We have just seen a month of low census, missed appointments and disengaged clients. Suddenly, you are questioning your technique, your office location and your talent.
Hold on. Take a look at your client list and do a quick analysis. The issues are still there; life got in the way. Have a consult with yourself, regroup and plan the next sessions based on the hard work they were engaged in before the weather turned. Reach out to your cancellations and give three appointment times for the summer, plan your own vacation and do your own slow exhale.
Then, while the hours are quiet, plot your outreach strategy for the summer months and fall.
Plan a couple of coffees with colleagues, email the newest psychiatrist in the practice you refer to and challenge yourself to learn a new technology skill.
Read that book on DBT you have collecting dust on your bookshelf and download a couple of podcasts. Figure out your target hours for June, July and August. If you look low for June, remind a colleague of your niche. Better yet, call your association and offer to write a blog post for the next newsletter. Therapists take vacation too at the end of May; your local editor may be grateful for the offer.
A quick supervision tip: Be careful of the “Yes, but…” response you are employing with yourself. Have you reached out to a colleague? Have you called a referral source? Have you looked at the wider community where you have an office and contacted businesses in the same building? If you are answering, “yes, but….” reconsider your answer to avoid the negative.
“Yes, and the colleague wasn’t answering so I also emailed.”
“Yes, and the referral source was also out on vacation, so I talked to the office manager.”
Yes, and I dropped a business card to the accounting firm on the 3rd floor and offered a stress management lunch and learn at tax time.”
And finally, relax. It definitely won’t happen if you are wringing your hands in your office, unnerved by the quiet. If you are engaged, mindful about your marketing and talking up your niche, it will happen.