Planning for a potential downturn in business

We’re just going to come out and say it. The R word. Recession. It’s safe to say these are turbulent economic times. Signs point towards a potential 2008-style recession or at least a downturn in business for private healthcare practitioners.

Panic not! We’re now in an ideal time to make plans for this eventuality, rather than scrambling when it’s too late.

So what areas should you be considering?

Your patients

This is so obvious it almost doesn’t bear mentioning, and yet we’re still going to. How do you reward loyalty in your patients at the moment? Have you identified who those key people are?

It can be helpful to look at your patient demographic and try to determine what challenges they might face in the future, and then plan to meet those challenges. Will your manual labourers be working all hours and struggling as a result? Are your office workers going to be in pain from months of working-from-home (on the sofa…)? Think of ways in which you can support them when we return.

I was speaking to a client of mine who works as a private Dentist, and was hit hard with the 2008 recession. His prediction is that we may see less “maintenance” care when we return, and instead see more people with bigger issues that have accumulated over the course of this lockdown period. An interesting prediction which we’ll certainly be bearing in mind.

By continuing to deliver high quality content, advice and resources to your patients you will not only keep your clinic in the forefront of their minds but also put yourself in a stronger position post- downturn. The saying goes “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Our focus should always be on maintaining goodwill in our existing, loyal patients which is significantly easier than putting extensive time and effort in marketing towards new clients.

So, let’s look at what you currently offer. Are there any areas in your patient journey that need improving? What perks do your patients currently benefit from? Is there any way of improving on your existing service?

Now is an ideal time to start reviewing key areas of your practice and rumbling with your team, friends or family to identify simple steps that you could take to improve them.

Your attitude

Take a deep breath. Everything is a little doom and gloom at the moment. It appears Chiropractors (alongside other healthcare professionals) have somewhat slipped through the gaps of Government support. You may stand to lose some money, your clinic might feel at risk.

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Fear sells, and the media knows this. Try to avoid the clickbait-y titles that drive you into a spiral of consuming more and more content. Focus instead on positivity- exactly as with chronic pain, anxiety tends to grow the more we nurture it. Don’t feed into your anxiety! Step away from the laptop. (after you’ve read this blog, of course).

We’ve seen some great talk on Facebook groups amongst practitioners of how they can use this time to move on in their careers, develop new skills, take a new course. There’s plenty of free resources out there so you don’t even need to hand over your hard-earned cash.

“Investing” in yourself at such a time is another key message to deliver to your patients. Remind them of how you’re continuing to develop and upskill yourself in order to provide more value. Remember, when all else is lost, your intellectual assets remain!

Your resources

Who and what do you have available to you? Avoid cutting resources you can’t get back. Sadly, for many small business owners, cutting PAYE costs is an easy way to save some upfront cash in the short term but may hurt you in the long term.

If your team members are as invaluable to you as we suspect, look for ways to hang on to them. Investigating Government schemes for furloughing workers instead of implementing lay-offs or redundancies ensure that you have an experienced team who are ready to help you when you reopen. Remember, as we mentioned above- you need to have a team (familiar with you and your clinic) to rumble with in order to know how to move forward- if you cut them off as a valuable resource, you might regret it further down the line.

We recently discussed this in greater depth during a free webinar “Managing your clinic through a time of uncertainty”. Check it out by following this link.

Take inspiration from others

We have recently seen a pivotal moment in UK healthcare history. British Chiropractic Association President Catherine Quinn coordinated a joint statement between numerous other healthcare associations (including the British Dental Association, British Veterinary Association and the Institute of Osteopathy). The BCA have lobbied the Government calling for financial fairness for healthcare groups and associations.

These strange times present opportunities for us to unite with others in ways which might never have been seen before!

If you have contacts locally, consider ways in which you could work together in a way that is mutually beneficial. After all, we’re all in the same boat.

The flip side of this, of course, is to use some of the time available to you to review your competitors. Assess how you can offer something more or something different than they do. Spending some time researching and reviewing your website analytics and usage reports, keyword analytics and your marketing insights can be helpful. This can identify ways in which you can boost your business on your return, improve your SEO and implement a new blogging strategy, for example.

Not sure how to do this? There are various tools out there which will walk you through the process, we recommend Semrush. Look around for a coupon code to benefit from a 14 day free trial.

A final thought for any downturn that may lie ahead

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No one truly knows what will happen next. If you’ve been following us on Facebook, you’ll see that our key phrase at the moment is “control what you can control.”

It’s easy to feel anxious about everything at the moment. Fear and anxiety can result in making poor decisions that can compound any business downturn that may or may not be coming. Rather than thinking in absolute terms, recognise that the situation as it currently stands is very fluid and there are options and opportunities available.

Speak to us

We have a range of free resources available to you which can help you plan and prioritise for the months ahead. We’re confident you’ll find them helpful!

In addition, our one-to-one coaching sessions are still available and we will continue to offer these as usual over the coming months for those who want to work on planning and prepping for the future. Alternatively, please contact us for details of our upcoming small group coaching sessions.

Get in touch: info@oakleycoach.com

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