How to Survive Summer Slowdown Syndrome
By Donna J Thomas
It’s almost Summer, the time of year when clients – even the ideal ones – tend to disappear from your holistic health practice. Several factors can contribute to Summer Slowdown Syndrome – schedules change, people travel, their kids are out of school, house guests come to visit, and so forth. Your holistic health practice can suffer a serious setback over the summer, which can have a cumulative effect by August, with significant income loss. Then you’re faced with a challenging rebuild phase to get back on track. Or you can plan ahead for a thriving summer business and a smooth transition into a busy, productive Fall.
Preparation is the key to surviving Summer Slowdown Syndrome in your holistic healthcare practice. You need to plan and prepare now, in the Spring. Don’t wait until things slow down – that’s like fixing the roof when it’s raining! Plan throughout the year, and step up your preparation now, in the last few weeks before Summer.
Let’s look at some strategies to help holistic practitioners survive Summer Slowdown Syndrome:
1. Create a Summer Slush Fund
Save money every month throughout the year to create back-up funds for summer. Then if business slows down for a couple of months, you can rest easy, knowing that you are financially prepared. If you plan well for summer and don’t need the savings for business and living expenses, you can either keep it tucked away for a rainy day, invest it in business or personal development, or treat yourself to something special.
2. Offer Packages and Programs
Enroll clients in prepaid, pre-scheduled treatment packages, for example 6 or 12 sessions. Promote your packages with a ‘drip campaign’ – several weekly announcements via various media – email, postal mail, phone. Make sure you mention the benefits for clients, such as keeping up with their health care, staying fit for summer sports, cost savings, etc. Give price incentives – the more they buy, the more they save. Let clients know that a limited number of treatment packages are available for preferred clients only – the impression of scarcity boosts sales.
One of the benefits of selling treatment packages is that clients are committed to a certain period of time or a specific number of sessions. Be sure and put a time limit on use of the prepaid sessions, such as June through Labor Day. When set up properly, treatment packages minimize the number of clients who let summer distractions disrupt their ongoing health maintenance. Selling prepaid packages makes your schedule and your income more predictable.
Offer special fees on your Summer Vacation Package, such as a 2-3 month prepaid package of weekly, semi-monthly or monthly treatments. It’s a good idea to create benefit-driven treatment packages that focus on a specific condition, problem or issue, such as “Golfer’s Hip Help” or “Summer Nutrition Booster.” Be sure to offer an irresistibly attractive deal – focus on the benefits and emphasize the savings compared to your single session fee. Accepting credit cards payments, allowing more people to afford treatment packages. (Hint: Don’t lower the fees on individual sessions, because you want people to buy the package, to keep your schedule full and your income stable.)
3. Host a Summer-Themed Class, Workshop or Event
You will make more money per hour with groups than with individual sessions, while clients save money over private lessons. Find out what your target market wants within your area of expertise and create a workshop for their needs. For example, teach basic techniques for relaxation or simple aches – e.g. “Self-Care for Summer Sports Injuries.” With kids out of school and families spending more time together, consider hosting a special summer family event, solo or w/ colleagues, where kids and parents do health-related projects, such as “Dad-Daughter Cooking Class,” “Kid-Friendly Gardening” or “Family Massage Night.” Get started in the Winter for this one: organize a Summer Health Fair.
4. Market to Summer Visitors and Tourists
If you live in a place with summer tourism, this can be a lucrative seasonal niche. Contact hotels, resorts, B&Bs; explain your services and ask for their referrals (e.g. for guests who need a massage or chiropractor for a vacation sports injury or a stiff neck from sleeping on the plane). Team up with colleagues from other modalities to form a Visitors Holistic Health Service with hotel and/or walk-in appointments at your office. Have some brochures designed and printed. Get featured in tourist publications or on your Visitor Info TV Channel. Advertise in airline and travel magazines. Send a press release to your local newspaper. For media attention, get established as an expert in your field. For personal safety, if providing hotel room calls, establish a relationship with hotel management, use valet parking and request a concierge escort to and from guests’ hotel rooms. To save wear and tear on your body, if carrying equipment such as a portable treatment table, it’s worth tipping a bellman to deliver it to the client’s room.
5. Join Summer Fun and Games!
Volunteer with summer sports teams – your kids’ or your own! Offer sideline muscle rubs and ice packs, for example. It’s a golden opportunity to market your practice to teammates, coaches and parents; give them Intro Coupons. Make creative goodie bags relevant to your holistic modality, filled with healthy treats, and a coupon for a Free Consult, Assessment or Intro Session with you, such as a 20-minute “Summer Swimmers Special.” When my kids were young, I volunteered in their Summer Fun Program, teaching family massage in the Kids Fitness Class, which generated some teachers and parents as new clients.
6. Start an Employee Health Service
Contact a local business or company about offering their employees a brief introductory consult or treatment in your specialty, at their location or at your office. Do this regularly throughout the year or a one-time corporate event early in the Spring to generate new clients to whom you can market your summer specials. Starting in the Spring, give them an IFO (Irresistible Free Offer), such as summer health tips, a complimentary Assessment and Treatment Plan, or a brief intro treatment such as the ‘Computer Abusers Shoulder Rub.’ This strategy is effective promo for drawing interested prospects into your office and gives you an opportunity to convert them into long-term clients.
Hopefully, these ideas will help your holistic healthcare practice survive Summer Slowdown Syndrome. But if you get a late start with summer planning and your business does wane, you can use the extra time to your most profitable advantage with these ideas:
7. Tackle a Big Project
Take advantage of the reduced client time demands to get something done that you’ve been putting off – launch a website, introduce a new product, pre-write your newsletter articles, develop a workshop, set up a Joint Venture with a colleague, to name a few. Be sure to mention your exciting changes in your monthly Update Letter and weekly ezine.
8. Take a Vacation
Get some R & R to recharge yourself for the upcoming busy Fall and Winter seasons. Take a trip, or simply spend time at home with family and friends – relax in the hammock, have a picnic, go for a swim, take a hike. Get some good self-care – bodywork, exercise, rest, fresh summer produce.
9. Prepare Your Fall and Winter Marketing Campaigns
Plan and start your Fall Marketing Campaign by doing at least one marketing activity each week during the Summer, to promote programs such as: Back-to-School Specials (Intro Coupons for teachers, athletic coaches, pediatricians); ‘Leaf-Raker’s Remedy’; Trick or Treat Bags – modality-related healthy goodie bags for clients and biz associates); a Winter Holiday Party for your clients, prospects and business associates.
You can also get a head start on your Winter marketing. Plan to start promoting Holiday Gift Certificates over Thanksgiving Weekend. Get ahead of the game by ordering or printing your GCs early. Plan your holiday season launch with a Thanksgiving Weekend party to tie in with your Holiday Gift Certificate promo. Pre-write the invitations and create a ‘drip campaign’ to clients and prospects starting in early November. Prepare client greeting cards and gifts to avoid the holiday rush. Pre-write and pre-schedule Fall/Winter ezines, blog posts and Tweets.
There’s a huge variety of marketing strategies you can implement to make sure your clients don’t forget you over the summer – even if they don’t come in for a while. So if you didn’t plan ahead and you end up experiencing Summer Slowdown Syndrome, use your time wisely to get your practice ready for a very busy and profitable Fall-Winter season.
Use stay-in-touch marketing vehicles, such as emails, newsletters and postcards to inform clients of your upcoming programs and promotions, and to keep you on their mind during the distractions of summertime.
Remember – All businesses ebb and flow. With a private health practice, there is typically a spike in demand at the start of the New Year and in the beginning of the Fall. Business typically tends to slow down in the Summer and from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, when people get distracted by travel and holiday activities. So you need to plan ahead to avoid a slump in your practice during these times. It is crucial to minimize the impact on your practice by leveraging the busier times to prepare for the slow months and vice-versa – using slow periods to organize for busier times to come. Avoid the roller coaster ride of seasonal ups and downs with careful planning, consistent marketing and regular implementation.
Clarify your Plans and Actions
Write out your answers to the following questions to help you decide which of the Summer Slowdown strategies you will implement:
~ Has your practice ever been affected by Summer Slowdown Syndrome?
~ How will you address it this year?
~ What will you do now to avoid Summer Slowdown Syndrome in the future?
~ How many more activities can you think of to avoid Summer Slowdown?
~ What will you do this summer to prepare for Fall and Winter?
~ What specific times can you commit to for these things?
With ingenuity and pre-planning, you can maintain a thriving holistic health practice during the summer slowdown months or use slow summer days to strategically position your business for a thriving fall and winter season.
Donna Thomas is a marketing mentor and coach who helps holistic health practitioners get more clients and make more money, with marketing strategies for both quick results and long-term success. Combining nearly 40 years’ experience as a wellness professional and innovative marketing practices with cutting-edge technology, supported by ancient mindset and spiritual principles, she developed an effective step-by-step system for business success. Her clients call her their “secret weapon for success” in starting, developing and maintaining thriving holistic health practices. Learn more at: http://www.TheProsperousPractice.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Donna_J_Thomas/1349047