Business Talk: Don’t pardon the interruption
Anthony LombardiFeatures Business Management
How to avoid the perils of business disruption
Businesses need to generate a rhythm in order to generate consistent cash flow. This requires repetition of delivering a quality product in a routine fashion. Interruptions break routine, which promote chaos over order. If you study how the business calendar is designed you can see that when it comes to building momentum to spark growth in our practice, the odds are stacked against us due to frequent changes in routine.
In a calendar year, we have holidays that come, more or less, every six weeks – Family Day, Easter, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Civic Holiday, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, and the long Christmas holidays.
In addition, keep in mind that within these given holidays, patients also take some breaks at different times throughout the year that cause interruptions in the routine: March Break, vacations/honeymoons, birth of a child, work trip, sick days, snow days
Additionally, the first five weeks of the new year are usually the slowest because people are burned out after Christmas, and so are their bank accounts.
Now, factor in all the days you go on vacation or have to take off because your child is sick or the days your employees or associates take for holidays, illnesses or other events.
With all of these interruptions its no surprise many business practices begin to flounder because they are not prepared. If businesses are unable to anticipate them, interruptions can cost a considerable amount of money.
During a business interruption, a few things happen:
- Patient routine is disrupted which affects future appointment dates
- Business routine gets displaced, and things like patient billing, reminder calls, patient scheduling and rescheduling all get compromised
- Staff and doctors lose focus following an interruption, which takes a day or two to regain.
- Production of potential revenue is lost
There are a few things you can do at your practice to prepare for potentially costly interruptions.
What gets measured gets improved
Track and list the patients that follow your recommendations to rebook. You will find on visits preceding predictable times of interruption that patients will not re-book. Contact them when the interruption is over to reconnect with their treatment schedule.
Keep track of all patient cancellations during times of random interruptions (illness, family issue, bad weather). Call them back when an appropriate amount of time has passed.
Capture patients ASAP
Having someone or yourself keep the clinic smartphone on long weekends to get back to people right away – and making that part of the job description – will pay dividends in the long run. Capturing the patient appointment request by returning an email, text message, Facebook message or voice message right away during a holiday interruption shows patients your level of commitment to your practice. Further, it assures that patient will have an appointment which is key because there is no guarantee that they would have waited three days for you to get back to them.
Keep an interruption list
I keep a vacation interruption list. This tracks all the patients who are on vacation and includes when they left and when they return, at which time you can follow up with a call or text message to resume their care.
Make the most of Mondays
Usually about seven Mondays out of 52 in a year become holidays, which means Mondays will become almost 14 per cent less productive than any other workday. Some chiropractors work seven Saturdays a year to make up for the loss in revenue – while others take Mondays off and work half a day every Saturday.
Have a contingency plan
When it comes to snow days, power failures or other random acts of closure, it is important that you have a plan in place to make sure you notify and reschedule your patients as soon as possible. During these times, it is also important to notify and remind the patients scheduled to come in during the next business day – since these interruptions break their routine and often confuse patients as to what day it is.
As I mentioned in previous articles in regards to my “flowchart of success,” the importance of doing the basics well cannot be underestimated. Booking, rebooking and collecting will always be at the core of any chiropractic business practice – so it’s very important to anticipate interruptions and adjust accordingly.
Anthony Lombardi, DC, is consultant to athletes in the NFL, CFL and NHL, and founder of the Hamilton Back Clinic in Hamilton, Ont. He teaches his fundamental EXSTORE Assessment System and conducts practice-building workshops to health professionals. Visit www.exstore.ca for information.
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