If the past few years have taught us nothing else, one thing is clear: humans are adaptable. In the face of adversity, we’re more than capable of rising to the challenge and making the adjustments needed to do so.
But, post-COVID, have things changed?
Many healthcare practice owners are surviving, but are they truly thriving to reach their full potential?
During a recent Power Talks webinar, Damien Adler and Danielle Hopkinson explored the concept of adaptability as the central tenet around which you can build a business that not only survives but thrives.
Damien, with his background as a registered psychologist, practice owner and co-founder of Power Diary and Danielle, with her extensive experience in growing and building brands, are uniquely placed to give practical insights and advice to practice owners struggling to make the shift from surviving to thriving (and how Power Diary can help.)
The Difference Between Surviving & Thriving: Adaptability
Survival mode is a space most healthcare practice owners have been in at one time or another; for many, this happened recently with COVID. And the gulf between surviving and thriving can seem impossible, especially if you pick up a newspaper and read about what’s going on in the world.
So, how do you cross that divide?
At the root of thriving is the concept of adaptability. There are a few things you can look at to make adapting easier, as well as utilising Power Diary’s features to make the goal of thriving attainable.
Why Making the Shift is Important
International conflict, burnout rates in healthcare professions, inflation concerns – there’s so much happening in the news, and it can all add up to a scary outlook on life and a survivalist mentality when it comes to business.
It doesn’t have to be like that. If you take back control, focus on what you can influence and ensure your business is prepared, you can shift to being fearless moving forward.
How to Move from Surviving to Thriving
Ignore the Headlines
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but negative news sells. News outlets are typically for-profit, which means they’re chasing clicks and views and trying to grow their subscription base. Therefore, the more dramatic the story, the better the spin they can put on it, and the cycle continues because, as Damien explains, “as humans, we respond to fear and sensationalism”. It’s not to say that there aren’t concerning elements out there, but it’s likely exaggerated a lot of the time.
Unfortunately, a negative outlook impacts your approach to life and your practice. It may make you feel like you’re not making a difference, whereas, in reality, you do wonderful things for the community. You provide services that help clients and make a lasting difference in their quality of life.
Healthcare Thrives During Difficult Times… But Why?
Providing exemplary service is at the top of the list for most healthcare practitioners, but there’s also a commercial side to healthcare that should be explored. As Damien shares, “Practice owners take a risk and set up a business, and it’s reasonable and fair to expect to be paid for that and to receive a good return on that investment and on that risk of going out there and doing something a bit different.”
Interestingly, healthcare trends tend to tick upward in pressurised economic situations because healthcare is considered essential, like food and transport. After all, it is central to survival and well-being.
Four Simple Business Areas to Focus On
Shifting from a macro focus to a micro one, as you consider your practice, what are the key areas that will make your business better? For the quickest (and most significant) benefits, focus on pricing, expenses, diversity and marketing.
The simple fact is that you have to increase your prices to match rising costs.
But there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it. Don’t try and hide the pricing changes, be transparent about it.
Danielle explains it like this,
“People understand because everywhere you look, from salaries to utilities, costs are going up. But let your clients know, give them plenty of notice via bulk email and SMS, and signage in the waiting room, and be confident when you do so. You’re not doing it because you’re looking to become the next Bill Gates; you’re doing it because you have to.”
As a registered psychologist and practice owner, Damien shares his perspective,
“Practice owners are often really reluctant to raise their prices because they want to make sure that their services are accessible. We’re naturally driven by doing good and making a positive impact in the community, and sometimes the idea of increasing your rates feels at odds with those principles. Unfortunately, this often leads to practice owners trying to absorb all these rising costs without considering the impact on the financial health and viability of the practice.”
To build in manageable pricing increases:
- Update your pricing on a regular cycle (usually once a year)
- Look at inflation figures and factor that into your pricing
Here’s Danielle’s question, “What do you want versus what do you need? Focus on the need. What do you need? Does it add value? Think about that. Look at your business; look at your expenses. Is there something you can eliminate that isn’t adding value?”
Some ideas where you could cut down expenses include:
- Mobile phone plans, shop around to find the cheapest option that meets your needs
- Unused subscriptions, either cancel them or start using them
- Utility providers is there a way to cut down your expenditure
- Loans and credit, can you combine your loans to get a lower interest rate?
- Phone lines, do you still need multiple phone lines for simultaneous calls?
- Software, such as project management tools or presentation software
Diversification is about creating different revenue streams. Healthcare practices tend to rely on one-to-one services, where you see clients individually. You have a lot of valuable information and experience to share, and if you package it right, you can create a scalable passive revenue stream that runs 24/7 without taking up any more of your time.
There are many one-to-many opportunities for healthcare practitioners, including group classes, workshops, online courses and education packages.
This is a reminder to refocus your marketing message. As the saying goes, “sell the sizzle, not the sausage,” you need to remind your clients why prioritising their health care is essential to their well-being.
You can piggyback on the messaging shared by advocacy groups and government entities that have already done the groundwork but don’t lose focus. As Danielle says, “it’s time. It’s time to look at what you’re doing and think about how you can change up your messaging.”
A fully-fledged healthcare marketing strategy will take time to develop, and you may need to:
- Use new technology
- Look at what others are doing
- Get creative
- Negotiate pricing with your marketing team
- Look for free exposure opportunities such as podcasts and your local news station
- Use social media, like Facebook groups and business pages
- Try boosted posts
- Follow up with active and inactive referrers
How Power Diary Can Help Your Practice’s Cash Flow
Prepayment via the client portal or appointment reminders with payment links using Power Diary is a simple, effective way to improve your practice’s cash flow.
How do prepayments help?
- Are great for cash flow because you have the money in the account before your client has even stepped through the door?
- Reduce no-shows as people are committed if they have already paid.
- Avoid the issue of people coming to their session and having a problem with payments.
With Power Diary, you have the option of requiring prepayment in the client portal when a client books an appointment. It works with Stripe integration, and this level of automation reduces your admin overheads. If you don’t take online bookings, you can utilise prepayments by putting invoice payment links in your automatic appointment reminders via SMS or email.
Collect Outstanding Invoices
You have to stay on top of your unpaid invoices. The longer an invoice remains outstanding, the less likely your client is to settle it.
But, with Power Diary, it’s easy to stay on top of your outstanding invoices. Simply run your invoice and payment report on a regular basis, and check the outstanding column for missed payments. From there, with just a few clicks, you can send out invoices with a payment link using a template. That way, clients have no excuse; they’ve got the invoice payment link right there, and they can settle it online, and it avoids embarrassment because it doesn’t involve a phone call chasing them up.
Power Diary makes it easy to:
- Create and send client statements that combine multiple invoices into one statement
- Resend or recreate statements because they’re securely stored in the client’s profile
- Generate aged receivable reports, so you can see exactly who owes what and when payment was due
- Set calendar alerts that highlight clients with outstanding invoices
- Add custom pop-up alerts when a client with outstanding invoices books a new appointment
- Email clients with outstanding invoices
Manage No Shows
Eliminating no-shows from your health practice is a topic all on its own. The long and the short of it, though, is that you want to prevent no-shows. But, to do so, it may mean that you have to enforce your cancellation policy. This needs to be communicated with your clients in your engagement letter and should be clearly displayed in your office. Understandably, no one wants to be the bad guy, but you have to take care of your business, and no-shows directly impact your bottom line.
You may also have to change how you think about charging for no-shows and clearly explain your reasoning to clients. As Damien puts it, “each appointment needs to be kept to keep prices low by utilising the time available well.”
There are different ways to manage no-shows, such as:
- Requiring payment at the time of booking doesn’t have to be the full amount, but rather a no-show fee, or
- Creating a separate no-show service to send to the client.
In addition, to prevent no-shows from happening in the first place, you can:
- Send cancellation agreement policies to clients using online forms
- Configure appointment reminders
- Set alerts for high-risk clients
- Use online bookings
Use Session Packs
Utilising session packs can help with cash flow as their functionality allows you to define a package, group or set of sessions based on time, sessions or the cost of providing the service.
There are lots of ways to use them, such as:
- For tracking purposes, where you have authorisation to provide a certain number of sessions, and people use session packs to track the utilisation of those.
- To package a set of services and receive payment for those services upfront, as might be the case for a physiotherapist offering a course of treatment.
From a cash flow point of view, they’re ideal because you receive payment in advance for services rather than providing the service and only receiving payment further down the line. Session packs promote consistency and attendance because clients don’t have to make individual purchase decisions.
They also help keep you organised because you get a reminder when a pre-paid package is about to run out or expire. This notification gives you time to talk to your client at their next appointment, so they have time to purchase the next package of services.
Watch our Power Talks Webinar dedicated to Session packs to learn how to best utilise them.
Start by ignoring the headlines; they’re designed to make you fearful (and take your money). And, if you can’t ignore them, keep in mind that healthcare thrives during difficult times, so if you use smart business practices, you can succeed in spite of the economic climate.
To tighten up your business practices, look at your pricing, and don’t be scared to update it. Then, check in on your expenses, and look at what you want versus what you actually need. The next step is to diversify, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Then re-evaluate your marketing efforts. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; look at what agencies and others in your industry are doing.
Finally, there’s your secret weapon: Power Diary. To sort out your practice’s cash flow, you need to look at prepayments, collect outstandings, manage no-shows and utilise session packs.
Taken together, both the business focus and the Power Diary focus give an excellent foundation to thrive moving forward.
Damien Adler is a Power Diary co-founder and the head of Customer Success. He’s also a registered psychologist and practice owner in Australia. When he and his wife opened the practice, they wanted it to be light on administration and high on automation. While it took some time, the practice can now operate without them, giving them the freedom to build intentional lives.
To get to this place, they realised they needed technology to automate and make managing their practice easier, so Power Diary was born in partnership with Damien’s brother Paul. It operates in over 27 countries worldwide, including Australia, the UK, the US, Canada, and South Africa.
Danielle Hopkinson is the marketing manager at Power Diary. With over 16 years of marketing experience in growing and building brands, she’s passionate about helping businesses continue to grow and thrive.