7 Tips (+ BONUS) to Prepare Your Health Clinic for the Holiday Season
The holiday season is almost upon us, but before you start making your plans, there are a few things you should coordinate to prepare your health clinic holiday schedule and ensure you end the year on a high.
This time of year tends to be busy, and your team and clients may be celebrating Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or even a memorable New Year’s Eve. It’s important to be prepared in advance so that you remember to celebrate the practice’s achievements over the year, mark important milestones, and get yourself and your team ready for a well-deserved break.
Get started now so those last few weeks aren’t any more overwhelming than they need to be! Here are seven tips to keep in mind to ensure that the end of the year doesn’t sneak up on you:
1. Create a Health Clinic Holiday Policy for Your Practice
There’s no quicker way to put a damper over the holiday season than a lack of planning and communication. If you make space to think ahead and put a health clinic holiday policy in place for the practice ahead of time, you can boost morale and end the year on a high, rather than with simmering feelings of frustration and resentment among your team.
The holiday policy should cover:
- Which holidays the practice will close for – This should be based on the makeup of your client base, your preferences and those of your employees. There should also be an explanation for why those holidays have been chosen and if accommodation can be made for employees whose religious or cultural holidays are not observed.
- Any changes to health clinic holiday pay – This includes the pay employees will receive if they work on a holiday (for example, double time and time off on another day)
- What happens when holidays fall on a non-work day – Will the practice close the day before or after, or will holidays not be observed if they fall on a weekend?
- Whether the practice will close early before a holiday – Many practices choose to close at midday the day before so that staff can enjoy an afternoon off.
- How additional leave requests will be handled – Employees may want to take off additional days around observed holidays, so it’s essential to address how leave requests will be addressed, how many staff can be off at any one time and to communicate this in advance.
To help the process run smoothly, you’ll need to review the policy at the beginning of each year and send out a calendar of the holiday dates to your staff.
2. Decide on (and Communicate!) Your Opening Hours
As December rolls around, your team may want to take leave to spend time with their families. Meet with your employees to coordinate who is taking leave and when, and schedule your rosters accordingly. Then, decide on your opening hours for the period, factoring in your team’s availability.
Many businesses choose to close between Christmas and New Year to give their employees a good break, which coincides with a period that tends to be quieter anyway as clients are spending time with their families too. Look back at your bookings from previous years to determine when you’re likely to be busy so that you can encourage staff to take their leave during quiet periods. (*Tip: You can use the Reports & Analytics in Power Diary to do this.)
When you have a clear idea of your holiday hours, you need to let your clients know. Communicating holiday hours to your clients should be a top priority of the season! Inform clients a month in advance of holiday hours and provide a protocol for emergency situations.
Use all communication methods at your disposal, including:
- Social media
- Email and SMS
- Office posters
Remember to update office hours on your practice’s:
- Electronic Health Record (EHR) scheduling system
- Google My Business
- Facebook page
Clear communication is vital if you want to eliminate confusion and scheduling errors and offer your clients a continued high standard of care while also prioritising your staff.
3. Send Festive Greetings to Your Clients (and Include a Special Offer!)
Anytime from mid-November onwards, you should get in touch with your clients to wish them a happy holiday season and thank them for their support over the year. If your clients mark special occasions such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas, you can personalise your wishes accordingly.
You can also use this as an opportunity to include a reminder to book now if they want an appointment before your office close, and share your updated opening hours for December and January. Use the communication method that best suits your clients; this will usually be via a text message or email.
If you want to stand out from all the other generic emails that tend to be sent around this time of year, consider including a special offer along with your wishes. The holidays can often be an expensive, stressful time, and many clients may have reduced budgets after a difficult year. This could be a good time to offer a discount on your services or, if you sell retail products, share last-minute gift ideas that your clients could buy for themselves or others.
4. Build on Referrer Relationships
The end of the year is also a great time to thank your referring partners. The only downside is that everyone thinks they’re standing out by sending a card and a (likely predictable) gift such as chocolates or wine. While this is definitely better than nothing, it’s an opportunity wasted.
This year, be imaginative and show that you really appreciate the partnerships you’ve built with a memorable gift or gesture in a way that won’t appear forced because you’re ‘just going through the motions’. (Could you gift an experience, a framed print you know they’d appreciate, a set of new mugs for their office, or something else unique?)
You won’t necessarily want to do this for all your referral partners, but if you check your Recent Referrals report in Power Diary, you can see how many clients have been sent by each referrer. Simply set the date range (usually the last 12 months) and sort by the ‘Billed Column’, then think of ways to reward those who have helped your practice this year.
Think of this as a way to build your relationships and ultimately grow your health clinic. By showing real thought and appreciation, you’ll be more likely to be at the forefront of their minds when they are referring clients in the new year.
5. Share the Love with Your Community
The end of the year is a great time to give back to your community, as well as showing appreciation for your staff and clients. It’s an opportunity to dive headfirst into the spirit of giving, spread some much-needed holiday cheer (and market your practice at the same time).
This could be a volunteer outing for your team at a non-profit organisation in the area, a toy or food drive that you host at the practice or even free educational sessions for the community. As a skilled health professional, you can share your expertise either via a webinar or through an interview with your local radio station and, at the same time, spread awareness about your medical practice.
6. Plan a Party
With the practicalities out of the way, it’s time to put some fun back into the festive season. A party helps to end the year on a high, so don’t forget to plan your team’s end-of-year function. It’s a fantastic opportunity to highlight the individuals who make up your team and thank them for their contributions.
And if you work by yourself, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you! Be proactive and arrange an end-of-year meet up with other practitioners in the same position. It’s been a long year, and you’ve accomplished so much, it’s important to mark these achievements with a celebration.
Here are our top tips for making your end-of-year party a success:
- Plan and book it early so that you can choose your ideal time, date and location. If you’ve missed the boat, you can be more original and celebrate the start of the year with a party in January!
- View it as a team bonding opportunity. It’s a chance to reward your team for all the hard work that they’ve put in and can also be the perfect time to re-enerhize them to tackle the new year with you.
- Decide whether it’s for team members only or if partners are invited. This will depend on the type of team you have and its size. Both options have pros and cons, but including partners can go a long way in building employee loyalty.
- Think about employee gifts. They should communicate thoughtfulness, appreciation, and, if possible, also be useful. A good option is a gift card, but personalise it by buying each employee a gift card from their favourite store.
- Make the food and drink selection clear if necessary. This might mean allocating a budget per head or limiting the number of drinks that can be ordered.
- On a tight budget? There are still many things that you can do, such as a catered brunch at the office, or meeting for an end-of-year celebration over breakfast rather than in the evening.
7. Bring Some Holiday Cheer to the Practice
Don’t forget to bring the holiday season to your health clinic and really get creative. Getting into the holiday spirit doesn’t need to cost a lot of money, and your whole team can get involved in the fun.
Some office celebration ideas include:
- Add decorations to the reception area, waiting room and even your practicing rooms. Get the whole team involved with arranging the displays.
- Prepare a small gift for your clients – something to make them smile. This might mean a bonbon, a decoration they can use in their own celebrations, or an indigenous seedling to give away as a thank-you for their support.
- Think about adding some edible treats for clients and staff. Home-baked cookies, candy bars, or chocolates can all help set the mood.
- Or, plan a festive tea or other events where clients are invited to pop in on a certain date to enjoy some merriment before your offices close.
BONUS: Get Your Business in Order Before the Health Clinic Holiday Break
If the year has run away from you, now’s the time to play catch up and tick off any “to-do’s” that you haven’t been able to do yet. Check with your bookkeeper that your accounts are fully up-to-date, follow up with any clients that need to settle outstanding invoices, and tackle any other outstanding tasks.
This will help get you into the spirit of the holidays so that when you finally get some well-deserved time off, you won’t spend it worrying about the things that you didn’t get around to doing. It also means that you’ll start the new year fresh with a clean slate, ready to take your health practice to the next level.
To really feel prepared for the holiday season, we recommend first setting up a holiday policy, adjusting your health clinic’s operating hours and communicating these to your clients, then tackle any outstanding to-do’s. Once you’ve got the business affairs of your practice in order, it’s time to put some festive fun in the mix. Be creative with your referrer gifts, and get yourself and your team holiday-ready by planning a party and bringing some festive treats to the office.
When planning, keep in mind that you may have a diverse client base and staff members who observe different special occasions than you. This is an exciting opportunity to build bridges, learn about other cultures, and celebrate together. This could be the perfect springboard into the New Year, where the whole team can start again feeling refreshed and appreciated.
If you know a practice owner that needs some inspiration for the last few weeks of the year, we’d love you to share this with them!
*This article was previously published in 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.