As a homeopath you must be aware of that. Maybe you’re noticing a few ways that it’s impacting your practice.
Is late cancellations one of them?
The conflict we all face
As the main bread-winner for my family, late cancellations used to have a big impact on me.
We can be our own worst enemy
I worked with a business coach a couple of years ago. One of the things we did was take a long hard look at my business structure and systems.
It soon became obvious that I was part of the problem in a number of ways.
- Being too informal. When text message was my main method of communication I found lots of people contacted me with last-minute requests to change the time or even the date. I was receiving messages late at night and on the weekend too and I felt under pressure to respond.
- Being too flexible. When I was willing to offer appointments on most days of the week I found myself rearranging my own plans to accommodate my clients’ needs.
- Putting my own family on hold. I planned to just work one or two Saturdays per month but found that I had a lot of rearrangements due to my clients being invited to parties or going away for the weekend. I found myself moving appointments to days I’d planned to be free, so I rarely had a whole weekend with my family.
- Being my own receptionist. I always rearranged appointments myself instead of referring people to the reception team at my clinic.
Steps I found helpful
I knew I needed to tighten things up a little. Here’s what I decided to do:
- Be more formal. I switched to email as my main method of communication as I found it helped me create stronger professional boundaries. I have a dedicated email address just for work, with an auto-respond set up permanently which changes frequently to reflect my schedule. (You can see what it looks like by emailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org – just pop in to say hi!)
- Have set clinic days. I find that two long days (including evenings) works well for me and my clients are happy with those hours too. If I can’t see someone this week, then I offer them a time the following week, or even the week after. Sometimes I set up ‘out of hours’ calls for genuine emergencies and that works fine. I now have blocks of time for working on cases, or writing a blog post or a newsletter (or teaching a Radiant Business seminar!)
- Stop working weekends. One person said they minded but they still see me regularly on a weekday evening so that’s ok.
- Use an on-line booking system. This costs me around £20 a month and has totally changed my life! You can read more about why I’m in love with my booking system here.
I also realised I needed to create greater clarity about my schedule, payments and cancellations:
- By having my schedule and my cancellation policy on my auto-respond, from the very first contact, all my clients will see exactly what they can expect from me.
- On initial contact with a new client I always attach my client-therapist agreement so they can see more about how I work. This sets the tone for our entire professional relationship. It outlines my policy on payments and cancellations.
- I also have a printout for them to read and sign when they first come to see me.
I can’t say I never have late cancellations or no shows but they are rare. Sometimes there is genuine human error and sometimes there is an unforeseen emergency and I completely get that.
Do I charge for late cancellations? Yes, I do, when I need to. That’s the topic for my next blog post.
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Thanks for reading.