There is a time after you start practicing where the cylinders are firing, the referrals are coming in and the cancellations are few. And this is exactly the time where you can make a misstep without even thinking too much about it. Andy had a good referral source; a local hospital based M.D. and a busy psychiatry practice that knew his work well. However, as he took a look at his year-end numbers in anticipation of an accountant visit, the news was a bit troubling. His client numbers were down 10% and his cancellation rate was inching up. Fortunately, we had a group consultation scheduled with some seasoned practitioners and the assessment laid bare the inattention that had crept into Andy’s practice.
Relaxing good business practices.
A busy, thriving practice keeps you hopping and the Thursday afternoon business meetings with yourself may become the once a month check-in that doesn’t drill down to the facts. And the facts are these:
How many clients did you see this month? If there is a difference, why? Where are your referrals coming from? Is there a change?
Who cancelled? How many marketing moments did you have? How many were successful?
If you are not answering those questions regularly, you might miss something. Andy had a vague idea that one of the nurse practitioners at the hospital was “disappointed” that he hadn’t gotten someone in sooner. He inferred this from the new client’s comments. Did he follow up with the NP?
It slipped his mind as one busy day led to the next.
Your weekly check-in is a good time to take note of these businesses practices. Looked at often, they don’t seem as daunting and may be quickly handled with a friendly call to the nurse practitioner.
“Hi Cheryl, I have a release to speak with you about your last referral. Among other things I wanted to mention, he said you were disappointed I didn’t see him sooner..I wanted to make sure I chatted with you about how to set aside an accelerated schedule if it warranted that. What would work for you in terms of communication?”
Two wonderful events are happening there: Cheryl feels that her referring clinician is paying attention and a potential problem is solved with the personal call. This is a result of a good business practice only noticed in Andy’s participation in his business hour! This leads me to:
Returning Calls, Emails or Texts Late.
What’s “late?” Simply, 24 hours. In this accelerated age, after 24 hours may show a lack of urgency. Fair? Nope. And, yet. Think of your own expectations of the service providers in your life. Test results? Handyperson? Credit card disputes?
In our disconnected world, the need for connection is greater than ever. If a client calls with a non-emergency, surely they have a timeline set out by you about return calls or emails. Please follow it. The same goes with your referrals. They want you to solve a problem for them–immediately. Model for them you are there even if the answer is “I don’t know” or “I am not available”. Your best marketing tool is to find someone who is! Again, a two-fold benefit–You are solving their dilemma while connecting to another potential referral source. And while we are talking about timeliness:
I know! I know. It’s your good fortune to have a busy day and a thriving group of clients. However. Please honor your good fortune by starting on time. And that means your first of the day as well as your last. When you come flying in the door at the same time as your client, they are not assured you are in a calm, mindful place. If you are turning on your lights, and pouring your tea, what message are you sending? We all discuss the incidentals of life while we settle in. However, when the client feels that you are rushed, harried or behind you are setting the stage in a way that may not be conducive to a calm session. The same holds true when you are running over, headed to the restroom or ushering out one client, while acknowledging another. It sends the signal of busyness not “care-fulness”.
Take a few weeks and try to pay attention to just these three areas. Look for a follow-up blog that goes a little deeper and may hurt a little more. Breaking confidentiality, Being irrelevant and The Dog. Yes, the last one is a thing.