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Through extensive conversations with Allied Health Professionals over the past month, I have identified a number of emerging themes that summarise the current post-ish COVID-19 situation for a large number of practitioners. I have provided this information below along with recommendations for you to increase your practice communication and client bookings.
- There are clients with high social anxiety – they are worried about moving around their community, mixing in busy places, touching high touch items (like door handles, lift buttons etc)
- There are clients who are financially impacted who either can’t afford appointments at all or to the same level that they accessed prior to COVID-19. These financial impacts have occurred through:
- Job loss or reduction in hours for themselves or another family member
- Disposable income being affected by downturn in share market or returns on rental properties being diminished
- Business owners who have been impacted through forced closures, long payment terms by their clients, general reduction in trade
- General financial worries due to the recession and election which leads to reduced spending and a focus on saving
Your experienceNo doubt you have also experienced impacts on your practice:
- Financially through closure or downturn in bookings
- Less available time to work on your business during the home schooling phase (and as I write this we are about to have more holidays – hang in there parents)
- Loss / reduced client base
- Fast development and delivery of alternative services (ie. telehealth)
- Exhaustion from the circulating stress, working harder but achieving less and feeling like you need to start all over again
I can personally relate to what you are going through from a business and financial perspective.
This information is not designed to make you feel worse by the way, it is for you to take the time to look inwards and appreciate the situation and what you’ve been through so then you can decide the next best steps for you, your family, your practice, your team (if relevant) and the people you serve.
I’m not a psychologist, but it is very normal for some of us to feel overwhelmed or in a bit of a slump. I had a few weeks where I couldn’t get out of first gear and this will be different for all of us. But just be kind to yourself, try and recognise the situation and how much of it has been out of your control and do something each day (even if small), to keep moving forward.
During this time of post-impact reflection, take some time to think about your practice and how you want it to serve you and your community. Is it a big team, multi-site, multi-disciplinary, or solopreneur, small team or online practice and business model (or is a mix of a number of different models)? It is your life and your definition of success is your choice – all goals are admirable, however bigger and traditional is not always for everyone.
I changed my business from a staff leveraged agency model (not dissimilar to a traditional allied health practice) when I experienced some significant health challenges about eight years ago. For me now the better model is contractors and a mix of face to face services and online products. I no longer need an office and with the reduced overheads my earnings have gone ahead. I thought “BIG” was the only option and the only way to serve. However the strong uptake of telehealth and online programs is showing us otherwise.
So getting back to you and your clients. As mentioned earlier there are three categories of people that I see right now and it’s important to recognise these groups so you can tailor your marketing and communications accordingly.
- We have the group that hasn’t been particularly financially impacted. These people want “business as normal” and we need to let them know that you are open, available and able to help them with their health concerns and conditions. You may even find that this group of people no longer want to hear about COVID-19
- Then there are the people with health anxiety who will need extra encouragement to come and see you and return to regular community life. Their fears may continue for some time as they worry about “what’s going to happen next?” along with other concerns
- Then we have people in genuine financial distress who may need other considerations in order to access your services or for you to provide them with recommendations of community or public programs
So there are definitely still clients to serve both locally and nationally, we just need to meet them where they are.
The best ways to reconnect with your clients
So what’s the best way to rebuild your practice and get you back to how you looked in February, or perhaps give your practice a “make-over” so you grow in a new direction with new ways of serving your community?
Well it will come as no surprise to you that of course I am going to recommend sitting down and putting together a 90 day content plan so you can communicate effectively with your different clients regardless of their situation.
- Include tips, open hours and what you can help them with
- You might like to include a video walk through to show your safety measures with your smiling / waving team members welcoming back your clients and showing them that it is safe to do so (add this video to your Facebook page as well)
2. Social media
- Tips, motivation, empathy and posts that encourage return bookings
- 3-4 times per week is ideal if you have lots of great things to say, if not, two quality posts per week are still far better than none
3. Increase your engagement with your tribe
- Run a webinar or produce a video series, go Live on Facebook at the same time each week, or offer fun (and ethical / appropriate) incentives such as coffee, a free apple, environmentally-friendly balloon or certificate to welcome people back to your practice
4. Contact and engage your referral sources such as GPs and other allied health professionals
- But don’t just email or ring them, go and see them and talk face to face about how you can work together to support each others clients and patients and build long term relationships
- Then stay in touch with these contacts in meaningful ways
5. Update your website
- Add new information, your opening hours, freshen up the language on your home page and remove the COVID-19 messaging when the time is right
- Look at what other features and benefits you could be using with your practice management software. For example, if you use coreplus you could be taking online bookings via your website or sending longer and informative text messages as part of your communication strategies
Want to refresh your practice?
And if you are thinking that you’d like to create something different in your practice – an online program, an online course, a webinar series, a membership so you can serve your clients from any location and generate a “one-to-many” income stream - then let’s get in touch and work together. Take a look at my Marketing Clarity Session which is a two hour one-on-one planning workshop and written action plan unique to your situation and let’s plan the refreshed, user-friendly version of your practice.
I’d also like to mention that the mid-year intake for the Allied Health Marketing Academy starts on 27 July This program is the only one of its kind dedicated to coaching and teaching allied health professionals like you how to market your practice for the long-term. Manage your own marketing in only one to two hours per week for lasting success.
And please feel free to get in touch for a free 20 minute Zoom consultation if you’d like to talk further about your practice and your marketing situation. I’d love to help you reach more people so you can change more lives. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.