Bouncing back to business – lockdown lessons

Nikki Collinson-Phenix is a registered chiropractor, Western medical acupuncturist and massage therapist who has been in private practice for more than 20 years. She is also a business coach and mentor for therapists. In the first of a short series of blogs to help you get back to work with a spring in your step and a renewed sense of purpose, Nikki asks, ‘What lessons did you learn about your therapy business during the lockdowns?’

As we all entered the first lockdown in March 2020 and you realised that you couldn’t work with your clients in person, what did it teach you about your business?

A lot of the therapists I work with suddenly realised that their entire income came from being in the treatment room, so when they were no longer able to provide treatments, it made them extremely financially vulnerable. And sadly, not all of them were able to claim grants or other support from the government, or they were only able to claim a very small amount.

I had a similar wake-up call a number years ago, when I injured my back and was out of action for a year. At that time, all of my income came from being in the treatment room. As soon as I learnt that lesson, I made sure I put provisions in place so that I had multiple income streams, in case something similar happened again. It meant that (fortunately, for me) when we went into lockdown last March – yes, I couldn’t see my patients for a long time – but it wasn’t as financially catastrophic as it could have been.

I know that for some therapists, that realization that their income completely stops when the treatment room door is closed, has taught them that their business model is not as strong as it should be. And even when COVID-19 is no longer a major threat to health, it’s possible that other things might stop you from treating clients in person. If you are a hands-on worker, what would happen if you were to break your finger or wrist, and you couldn’t physically do your job? Are there other ways that you can generate income and continue to support your clients and business at the same time?

Some therapists I have spoken to really embraced working in the online space during lockdown and even when we’re in a position to return to the treatment room, want to keep doing some of that online work. Maybe you feel the same?

For other therapists I work with, there was the realisation that their email marketing system was not up to scratch. It wasn’t until they were suddenly away from their clients and they weren’t able to contact them effectively online that they discovered they had never taken down their clients’ email addresses or built up an email system to stay in contact with them in a way that was GDPR compliant. Again, perhaps that was a lesson you learnt, too?

Or maybe you found some gaps in your knowledge, that you would like to address going forward? It might be learning more about how to use social media or training in a therapy that is hands-off and you can offer over the phone or Zoom, such as a talking therapy or nutritional therapy.

Did being forced to stay at home make you realise that you actually really enjoy spending more time at home? Did it make you consider that when you go back to supporting clients in person, you might like to change your working arrangements? Maybe you want to work more or less hours, or change the days and times you work, or where you work?

So, before looking to the future, the first thing I’d like you to do is grab a cup of tea and just take time to reflect on the past year and the lessons that you have learnt – I promise it will help as you plan the best way forward for you and your business.

In Nikki’s next blog post, she’ll talk about the importance of being visible and consistent.

For more information about Nikki, visit nikkicp.com or learn more top tips by watching a special video she produced for FHT members, called Spring back into business.

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