How do you feel when you think of your email inbox? Overwhelmed? Or even guilty? If you struggle with managing email you are in good company. Today, we’d love to share some tips with you that we hope will help you regain clarity and get you using your email to build your practice.
We’re going to dive straight in.
1. Have a separate email address
We’ve said this before but we’ll say it again – have a separate email address (ideally linked to your website domain) for your business. Keeping client emails separate from all your other mail is the first step to clarity. (Plus it creates a great ‘first impression’!)
2. Set up an email signature
This creates a great impression, in combination with your professional email address. It’s easily done in most email programmes. The way to do it will vary, but if you search ‘help’ for ‘setting up an email signature’ there should be step by step instructions. Keep it simple. Something like:
Your name Your professional letters
Your job title
For appointments call this number
3. Set up an auto-responder
Taking some time to set up an auto respond message buys you time when someone sends an email to you. There are different ways to set this up, but again, we recommend keeping the message simple.
Hello, thank you for contacting me.
My clinic hours are:
To make an appointment:
I will respond as soon as I can, usually within:
If you have an emergency please:
We keep ours on all the time, and change it to a holiday one when we go away. (We also change our phone message.)
4. Decide how you want to manage your email, and stick to it
We try to respond quickly to enquiries from new clients, either with a ‘holding email’ or with a phone call. As a general rule, if they provide a phone number, we call them.
With other queries, we ‘batch process’ our emails once or twice a day. This stops email from taking over out lives completely.
5. Use templates and attachments
We have a few templates that we use to help us draft emails that we write frequently. We also have documents that we attach to emails to help us create positive working relationships and to share information. For example, a client-therapist agreement, information on how to get better sleep, what to expect from treatment for certain conditions. Etc.
6. Use folders
It can be tempting to use email as a big long chronological filing system, but there are better ways. We’ve been inspired by Leo Babauta at Zenhabits to have as little in our inbox as possible. And his post on ‘How To Clear Your Inbox When You’re Drowning‘ does exactly what it says on the tin!
We have folders to keep emails that we need. It makes things easier to find.
7. Have a system for follow ups
Following up is an essential part of business practice. It helps us stay on top of our bookings, payments and keeps clients inside our radar.
There are different systems to try.
The simplest is to have a folder in your inbox titled FOLLOW UP – every email that you send to a client goes into that folder. Check it weekly. Have they replied to your request for treatment update/payment/appointment confirmation etc.
Another way that works well is to have a spreadsheet, maybe with three pages. Past clients, current clients, prospective clients. Include their email address. Have columns to show when you last had contact with them, and review weekly.
Tracy uses free web-based software called Highrise. It is a very simple database system that allows you to create a contact list and add notes and tasks. It also sends reminders.
8. Use an email programme to send out newsletters
This is an essential strategy to keep your clients up to date with your news, events and to remind them that you’re there. This is a great way for new clients to get to know you, and reminds people to come and see you.
Email needs to be at the centre of your business, and needs to be kept under review. We can all find ways to improve our practice and our strategy, and email is a great place to start.
We’re planning a couple of seminars on exactly this topic, so look out for the dates and our early bird booking offer coming up very soon!
Building your successful business takes a lot of work. We are big believers in hiring expert help. We have both benefited from coaching and technical support in building our own businesses and this is what we want to share with you.