How To Prepare Your Practice for a Downturn
2020 has been quite the year! It’s brought with it unpredicted turns and unexpected, rocky moments. And as the year winds down, we find ourselves facing continued uncertainty. As a business owner and healthcare practitioner, that can feel quite unsettling.
In the midst of the unknown, how can you prepare?
While you can never truly know what the future holds, there are some things you can do to get ready for life’s inevitable storms. Here are three crucial safety nets to put in place – ones that will help protect you and your practice.
1. Your External Safety Net
One of the most important steps you can take to get ready for unexpected times or a downturn is to build connections outside your practice.
These connections can include other local business owners, nonprofits, or even other colleagues. For example, if you’re a chiropractor, start connecting with other chiropractors. But don’t just stop there. Be sure to also network with like-minded professionals in other areas of expertise – acupuncturists, massage therapists, health coaches, personal trainers, health food store owners, and so on.
Investing in these relationships now will give you somewhere to turn when things get tough. In times of panic, they can be your lifesaver.
Once you establish those connections, make sure you keep them strong and ongoing. Create relationships for the sake of creating them – not to make a profit, but just because you want to connect and serve. Others will appreciate your genuineness and will be more open to partnering down the road.
2. Your Internal Safety Net
This next safety net is within the walls of your practice. It has to do with your patients and communication.
Effective communication is a crucial piece of what you do and how you serve. When done well, patients understand their health issues, treatment options, and any necessary behavioral changes they need to make on their end. Without frequent and effective communication, a vacuum can form. This can leave patients feeling confused, disconnected, or like they’re drifting away – sometimes to another clinician who will fill the void.
To prevent that, look for ways to nurture and build relationships with your patients. And do so often. Staying in constant communication is crucial, especially in times of uncertainty.
What does patient communication look like? It can be when they walk through your door for an appointment or if they call your office with a question about a supplement. It can be empathizing with a patient or simply listening to them. It could even be you sending a short email or text to see how they’re doing.
These seemingly little actions prevent the communication vacuum and keep you connected to your patients. Vital, thriving relationships exist in the presence of regular communication. This results in a psychological safety net – not just for your patients but also for YOU.
3. Your Financial Safety Net
This last safety net is the source of struggle for many holistic clinicians. Personally, it was a struggle for me earlier on in my practice. What I learned during those tough times is how important having a financial safety net is. It’ll help you get through the rough spots, like if your business has to close for a few weeks or if your practice hits an unexpected lull.
Preparing financially can sometimes feel extra intimidating because it means you have to face the scary things that could happen in your practice or personal life.
What if I can’t make my ends meet?
What if I lose my home?
What if I can’t pay my staff?
The list of “What if?”s can get long and overwhelming quickly. Instead, shift your focus to your practice and on keeping your head in the game.
To do that, start with seeing what you can set aside each week or month to build your savings and create a financial safety net. Here are a couple of ideas on how to do just that:
- Set up regularly scheduled automatic transfers to your savings account.
- Start a “Round-Up” savings account. Some banks, such as Bank of America’s Keep the Change® Savings Program, will do the heavy lifting for you. The idea is that every purchase you make will be rounded up to the nearest dollar. All that change will be deposited right into a savings account!
- Whenever you catch a sale, consider transferring the amount you saved into your savings account. For example, if one of your suppliers is running a 20% off sale, then put that 20% you’d have spent (and budgeted for) in savings. This may not seem like a big deal, but over time this adds up, and you’ll be thanking yourself later.
What you save doesn’t have to be huge. Even stashing away $10 here or there makes a difference. But keeping at it is key. Maintaining the discipline of putting a little back is crucial to softening any unexpected blows from a downturn.
Start Preparing Now
Preparing does more than give you peace of mind. It can boost your confidence and give you strength as you move forward out of 2020 and into whatever next year holds.
Over the course of the next week, take a look at how strong your three safety nets are. Where there’s an opportunity, put together a plan to strengthen your nets. If you need more tips or want to learn more, check out my recent podcast on this very topic!