Why you need to start preparing for Christmas NOW.

https://www.privatepracticeninja.co.uk/need-start-preparing-christmas-now/

I’m writing this blog at the beginning of November. The idea of mentioning the All Mighty’s birthday this early might seem wrong to you, particularly when you have only just plonked your mushy pumpkin onto the compost heap.

Christmas is going to be 6 weeks away at end of this week. If you want your clinic to run smoothly throughout the festive season, you need to take action NOW!

First of all, decide if you are going to be “Runaway” or “Stay and play”.

Believe it or not, not everybody takes the entire week off during the festive season. This year (2017) Crimbo falls on a Monday, which means you are likely to take Monday and Tuesday off. It’s very tempting therefore, to also take three days of annual leave on the 27th, 28th and 29th of December. That way, you can enjoy ten whole days of uninterrupted free time, if you include the bank holiday on January the 1st.This means ten days of getting fat on turkey curry in front of the idiot box, and hopefully feeling rejuvenated by the time you come back to clinic.

That’s a pretty good plan and the vast majority of us will probably do the same. However, if your spouse is a nurse, firefighter, social worker or on-call IT help desk professional, you might not get the luxury of standing in a queue at Terminal 5, beatching about baggage handlers. In which case, you get the chance to “stay and play”, which can be extremely lucrative if you get it right.

How many times have you found yourself stressing out at the last minute, with requests that leap up at ten to five?

I seem to be a magnet for stress fractures in December. Trying to get on a plane/drive to Devon/pick up rellies when you are battling with all these last minute emergencies, is really stressful. Every year you swear it will be different and you’ll be prepared and organised. Yeah, right.

Here’s the thing; don’t wait for your patients to have a complete personality change and get themselves prepped and ready Christmas. You need to take the bull by the horns and organise them instead.

If you think about what it is that stresses us out, when we are trying to depart for annual leave, it’s normally the leaving with things undone, or patients not fully sorted. Have you ever had a patient who has literally taken the very last appointment you had that year, and, guess what – they need bloods, an contrast MRI scan and an urgent referral to another colleague. That’s a real labour of love when you’re not around to execute it seemlessly. Because you’re on a flippin’ plane!

Whilst I have arranged an MRI scan from a beach in Tobago, I can say it certainly detracts from the much-needed R&R, when you are trying to log into a hospital imaging system, with Wi-Fi that was fit for purpose in 1989.

So you’ve decided to be a “Runaway” this year. Good for you – you deserve the rest! Now let’s get you organised…

This is the One hour Practice Ninja Getaway Plan:

Private practice Ninja helper  Take a look at your diary and see what has happened over the last month. Whom have you seen, who is probably going to need an intervention before Christmas, a review, a medication follow up (or you know in your bones is going to be a pain-in-the-bum just when you want to slip off to the ski slope). If they are not already scheduled in, get them into clinic and solve their problems by early December. If you are not sure who they are, ask your med sec. Then buy him or her a ma-hoo-sive Christmas present for being awesome all year.

Private practice Ninja helper  Take a look at your diary and see what has happened over the last month. Whom have you seen, who is probably going to need an intervention before Christmas, a review, a medication follow up (or you know in your bones is going to be a pain-in-the-bum just when you want to slip off to the ski slope). If they are not already scheduled in, get them into clinic and solve their problems by early December. If you are not sure who they are, ask your med sec. Then buy him or her a ma-hoo-sive Christmas present for being awesome all year.

Private practice Ninja helper  Next broadcast out to your patients that you intend to shut you clinic during X-to-Y dates. Tell them that now would be a good time to get that injection scheduled, questions answered, and exercises/marathon training sussed out.

Private practice Ninja helper   Then open your December diary and block out the last two days of your clinic to any new patients. Make sure they are follow up patients only. Try to reserve two appointments on each of the remaining days prior to that, for urgent cases only. That way, the ‘urgents’ get a cracking chance at having an initial consultation, maybe an investigation and a follow up all within that final week. They will stress less and so will you.

Private practice Ninja helper  If you are travelling, please try to have a half day off the day before you travel. You can tidy up the paperwork, review results, and hand over any urgent patients that need onward care. You get to go home all done and dusted and you can start the festive season on the right foot, rather than growling at your spouse the moment you walk in the door.

 

What if you want to “stay and play”? That’s great! The opportunities are there, and this is how a Practice Ninja goes out to grab them!

What better opportunity is there to mop up when others aren’t around? During the London Olympics in 2012, whilst just about every other sports medicine doctor shut their clinics completely, I decided to work like a lunatic (which included the only four days off I had, in between my Olympic shifts). Those four days clinics were rammed, I gained many new referral sources, and it was well worth the exercise and exhaustion.

Over the festive season, there will be people who’ll want urgent assistance. Others will also appreciate that they can still get some rehab done, or that chesty cough sorted, because like you, they are obliged to be around. They may even relish the perfect opportunity to get away from relatives.

Don’t be too much of a martyr, however, as you may find yourself feeling resentful. Instead, try running a compressed clinic, e.g. a long morning or a ‘ten-till-three’. Then join me down the pub.

So how do you fill that clinic?

Private practice Ninja helper  The best way is to tell people you are going to be about. If you have a website, try putting a notification bar on the website that says “We are open for Christmas”.This surprisingly easy to do if you use a plugin. If you have a WordPress site, search “notification bars” in the plugin search box, and you will find several that are very easy to install and operate. “WordPress Notification” and “Topbar” are two that I’ve used.

Private practice Ninja helper   Email your list of patients and referrers. If you don’t have an email list, by now it’s time to get on it!

Take a look HERE at my previous blog about how to build one…

why you need to harness the power of your email marketing list

Let everyone on your list know that you are open for Christmas emergencies, and they should keep your number handy. Maybe invite them to pre-book a time slot if they know they are going to need some rehab or TLC. Most patients will wrongly assume that you will shut up shop completely.

Private practice Ninja helper  Set up Buffer to tweet out your open shop policy at Christmas.“Why not get those annoying niggles and dodgy symptoms settled down.” You can pre-plan this in Buffer, so you don’t have to worry about doing it as the big week looms rapidly.

Private practice Ninja helper   Write a relevant blog about….. Keeping healthy over the Christmas period, getting prepped for that spring Marathon, or starting the New Year with a resolve to sort that asthma or acne problem. Then simply dovetail your Christmas call to action onto the end of that blog. Sweet.

Finally…

If you are not going away, but can’t work because your premises are shut, why not use this as an excellent opportunity to do some planning?

You could take a couple of days to revolutionise the marketing of your practice. Can you sit down with mince pies and your contact marketing diary?

My previous blog can help you map out a series of blogs promoting your services, so that you hit the ground running in 2018. You can read it HERE.

Maybe you can even find a quite clinic room or a space, and use your iPhone to record a few “how to” or educational videos for patients or referrers. You can easily host these on YouTube, and then embed them via a ‘code block’ onto your website. It’s really simple to do.

If you don’t have a website, or you’re not feeling very techy, why not record them on your iPhone and post them up on Facebook. Better still, try recording a Facebook Live video.

Christmas is a great time for relaxing and fun, but also it’s a perfect time to really boost your practice.

You can add me to your email list and let me know your plans over Christmas

dojo@privatepracticeninja.co.uk

If you need some practical help with the business side of running a successful practice over the festive period,

Get in touch!

We are waiting to help you gain more patients and boost your referrals

 

                                                                               

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