Irene Diamond
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How To Schedule Your Sessions

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Appointment-calemndar-for-therapistsHow To Schedule Your Sessions.

Time management in scheduling is a critically important topic and effects how much money you make for the time you work.

 
In one of my coaching groups, I was asked,
“Does anyone offer the full 60 minutes or just 50 minutes hands on?”
 
Let’s take the time to discuss how to schedule your sessions in a day.
 
WARNING:
If you are not clear and efficient with your scheduling, 2 things happen:
 
#1- You waste your valuable ON & ME time.
 
#2- You’re not compensated for your work time and your clients don’t even know they’re getting ‘stuff for free’.
 
There are a few variables we look at that dictate how you will structure your bookings.
(I encourage you to actually think about what will really serve you, although it might feel counter-productive)
 
 
Here are a few things to consider when setting your booking schedule:
  1. How many clients do you want to work with in 1 day?
  2. How many days a week do you want to see clients?
  3. How much time do you need/want in between client appointments that are back-to-back?
  4. How many breaks do you need/want and how long should they be between blocks of clients?
  5. How will you explain your service structure to potential clients?

Many of the physical therapists, massage therapists, personal trainers and yoga instructors I coach are in a ‘dollar trade for time’ model, typically charging a rate for a chunk of time, possibly like you do.

At it’s core, you’ll want to decide how to book clients based on what serves YOU and YOUR clients the best, not what other businesses do.

 

CAUTION: HERE’S A “VALUE” QUESTION:
What are you offering to your clients that has the value?

Most practitioners believe they should ONLY charge for the time they are actually providing their main service, such as massage, hands-on therapy, exercise instruction, or yoga guidance.

Many of you may not feel ‘right’ to charge for time spent discussing with your clients their therapy plan, or giving them suggestions for home care, because you believe your client is paying you for your actual therapy service. STOP IT!

I advise you look at what the client is really paying you for, and this may be mind-blowing for you — but in most cases they are NOT paying you for your time, but instead, for the results you provide!

So if your spoken advice, suggestions, and conversation helps them reach their goal, that time should be part of your session.

Don’t offer your words of advice as a ‘throw-away’ after thought that’s given outside the therapy room or as they’re checking out.

(It goes without saying: Only give advice and / or instruction that you’re qualified to give and is within your scope of practice)

Imagine you’ve finished your session and as your client is paying, you casually say, “Oh, and by the way, I want to show you a stretch I think you should do at home …” The client takes the extra 5-10 minutes to learn what you want to show them, thinks it may or may not be good advice and doesn’t give it any much more thought.

You’ve just taken more time from your day without getting compensated for it. You’ve also demonstrated the value of that stretch is not worth anything because it was an after-thought.

I suggest you build that consult or advice-time into your session time, since it is still part of your session!

I love author, Seth Godin’s quote, “Make an invisible service visible”… that refers to all the things you’re already doing that you’ve not been giving or doing for your clients but not charging for.

 

Tell Your Clients What To Expect:

  • Are you booking an hour but will only work with them for 50 minutes? Tell them!
  • Are you booking an hour and will give them 60-minutes of session-time? Tell them!
  • If you allow 5, 10, 15, 30 minutes between clients for yourself and not to be spent working with the last client, advise the client what to expect so there are no surprises and they don’t expect you to stand around chatting with them.I used to think I was doing a client a favor by “going over” and giving them extra time. I used to do it without first checking with them to be sure it was ok with them. Sometimes it was welcomed, but I also learned the hard way that I made some clients late for their next appointment, or they missed the train, or their kid was stuck in day care longer!  My generosity actually was hurting them rather than helping them!

Charge For Delivery of Results:

This is often the biggest struggle for therapists to understand and grasp. Depending on the type of practice you have and the services you offer, you’ll need to be crystal clear on WHAT you’re selling.

Are you selling time or results?

An example is for many Active Myofascial Therapists who provide pain relief and improved function. They have learned to charge for the results accomplished in that session or program, not for the amount of time a therapist spends with the client. In other words, if you’re a client coming in for neck pain relief, and your therapist schedules a 30-minute session but delivers the result in 15 minutes, you pay for the session even though you’re in and out faster. (Most people in pain, prefer faster results over drawn out in-efficient use of their time!)

Relaxation and pampering are more conducive to time-based structuring simply due to the fact most people don’t want to rush relaxation, although I’ll argue people like me do want to experience the benefits of reduced stress and if that can be accomplished in 15 minutes as opposed to an hour, I’m down for it!

 

Busy, Breeds Busy:

If you book appointments back-to-back and have the ability for the next client to wait in a comfortable area, they will see the client before and after them and that leads to a higher perceived level of success.

“Oh, look how busy she is, I better not cancel my appointment because she may not be able to book me in again for a while!”

This is one of the main reasons I suggest therapists plan just enough time to finish the session, was their hands, grab a sip of water, go to the bathroom, flip the room and check out the client (unless they have a front desk member to do it.)

The other reason I believe it’s more effective to book 3-4 back to back then take a bigger break for meals or rest, is because you get your momentum going and actually become more efficient! Once you get the swing of only having a few minutes in between, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!

Of course, if you DO need more time for physical or mental breaks, take what you need, I simply encourage a more streamlined process with less down time in the middle of blocks of 3-4 appointments when ever possible. That gives you the ability to get out of the office or spend time working ON your biz and not just IN it!

 

Less Is More:

Once you understand the strategy of booking your clients, you’ll be able to generate MORE revenue from FEWER clients! That means more time freedom for you!

(be sure to remind your clients each time they book so you don’t end up with no-shows or same day cancellations since it’s such a bummer to charge for missed appointments.)

These are just a handful of tips on how to schedule your sessions. I’ve got more than a dozen more with subtle nuances that can literally take your practice from the $50k mark and catapult it to $80, $90, or $100+k a year.

Feel free to continue the conversation by posting your comments below and share your experience of how you schedule your appointments.

 

About the Author Irene Diamond

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