Things are a bit crazy right now with the current COVID-19 circumstances and our industry being put in a standstill, but I thought this would be a good time to take a look at how to use slow times strategically to grow your business. A few of these may apply right now, and a few you can use later when things get back to normal, but regardless, it’s important to take the time you have, whether when you’re forced to have that time off or your business is in a natural lull, to do some good for your company.
We all have them…
those days or weeks where most everyone seems to cancel, or several clients go on vacation at the same time, or maybe you’ve sustained an injury that means you can’t see clients for a short period, or who would have though…a pandemic rolls around.
So let’s look at 10 ways to use those slow times to boost your business…
#1 Update your business plan
Although you may have spent an exorbitant amount of time figuring out and writing your business plan, you have to remember that it’s not set in stone forever. Things change in business all the time. New ideas come to mind, new opportunities present themselves, you learn a new technique that transforms the way you want to work…anything can alter that plan you worked so hard on. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s an integral part to growing any business. You and your practice have to constantly evolve. If you’re not constantly striving to be better and do better, then you’re stagnant. And no stagnant business can deliver true success.
So use those slow days or weeks to update your business plan. Go back to the drawing board and see where you’ve evolved, and where your business needs to do the same. Maybe it’s some big changes you’d like to make – a new end goal for your business – or maybe it’s just getting your ideal client defined in more detail.
Whatever small or large changes you need to make, spend some time every few months, or at least once a year, to really get back into that business planning mindset and update things so your business can flourish.
#2 Update your marketing strategy and plan
Every business needs a marketing strategy – a solid look at what works and what doesn’t, along with a precise plan for every marketing dollar you spend. Since you’ve probably marketed your practice quite a bit, you should be taking note of what has been successful for your business, and what has not.
What events delivered the best ROI?
How did your Facebook ads do?
Which did better and why?
What print ads got the most attention? Why?
Did you see a boost in sales after a new sign was put in?
Are you getting more booking after a website update?
These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself. Then use your slow times to look back at those marketing investments and determine your ROI so you can move forward with a more strategic and efficient marketing plan.
#3 Practice some self-care
We all know we should be using proper body mechanics and stretching regularly to prevent injury in our profession. However, self-care goes much farther than that. As the old saying goes, if you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of anyone else. So when you have a slow day or week, take a nap. Do some yoga. Meditate. Read a good book. Go for a walk. Play hooky with your kids and go see a movie or spend an afternoon at the park. Get a pedicure or manicure. For the love of all things holy…GET A MASSAGE!
Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, that gives you that sense of happiness and peace with life…do it! Even if it’s just a single cancellation in an otherwise busy day, take that time to do something for yourself. Curl up in a chair with a cup of coffee and a good book if you want. It’s your time, spend it however you want. It doesn’t all have to be about your business 100% of the time. You have to nourish your body and soul so that you can then pour them into your business.
#4 Learn something new
I’m a firm believer that everyone should be a lifelong student, but I think it’s even more essential for business owners. Industries are constantly evolving, and massage therapy is no different. Staying up-to-date on all things massage AND business related is crucial. So when you have those slow times, instead of getting down about not having “enough” clients, take this opportunity to expand your horizons so you can grow to always have “enough.”
Whether you take an online CE class, watch some YouTube videos, read an expert’s blog posts, or gobble up a new book – all of these things are going to help you to grow as a person, as a massage therapist, and as a business owner. Don’t just see your continuing education as something your state requires. Instead, it should be constant, whether it’s for official CE credit for your license or not.
I build my continuing education into each day. The absolute majority isn’t actually to apply toward my required CE credits to maintain my license, but is simply used for my own personal and professional growth. So I plan out videos I want to watch, or podcasts and audiobooks I want to listen to, and I hit play when I’m on the elliptical in the mornings. I schedule at least 15-30 minutes every day to read an educational book. Sometimes that’s something I get to do during my lunch break, or when I have a random cancellation I don’t quite feel like filling, and other days it’s just before bed, because that’s all the time I have.
However you can get your education in, do it! It doesn’t have to be something elaborate. A 5 minute video every day to fine tune your skills on the table, or short bursts of reading here and there as you get the chance. It all makes a difference. I guarantee that if you took 10 minutes off your social media time each day, and put that toward learning something new, you’d be amazed at how quickly you and your business would grow.
#5 Write and schedule your newsletters and blog posts
There’s nothing like committing to newsletters or blog posts to give you a constant sense of pressure and upcoming deadlines. So instead of writing them as they’re about to go out, use your downtime to write out several posts or newsletters in one sitting. If you have a 2-3 hour window when you don’t have clients, that’s the perfect time to knock out several posts at once. Set yourself a timer for 30 minutes and brainstorm what subjects you’d like to write about and what your audience would be interested in. Then give yourself 45 minutes or so to write each article. (Obviously you can alter the times to whatever works best for you and your writing style!)
Once you have those newsletters or blog posts written, simply schedule them to go out on whatever dates you choose, and voila! You don’t have to think about it again for a while. If you’re writing a weekly post, try to stay at least a month ahead. This will not only keep you from feeling so pressured, but will also give you a buffer if something comes up and you really can’t take the time to write out those newsletters or blog posts.
#6 Schedule your social media posts
If you’re a member with us, you already have the vast majority of your social media content taken care of for you. All you have to do is plug it all in. So take that slow time to look through the graphics, links, blog posts, and promo videos, and pick your favorites. Then you just put them into your social media pages and schedule them to post whenever you like.
If you’re not a member yet, why not!?
Regardless, plan and schedule your posts at least a few weeks in advance. You can schedule posts up to 6 months ahead of time!
#7 Prepare birthday cards for the next few months
Sending out birthday cards is always a nice way to show your clients that they are valued and remembered, but also a great way to get back in front of clients who maybe haven’t been in for a while. Look through your files (or better yet, have a calendar specifically marked with everyone’s birthdays) and write out a nice message in a simple birthday card. Put your business card in there and address the envelope. All you have to do is put them in a pile with a post-it note of what day to send each out, and you’re all set. Then it’s just a matter of dropping them in the mail when the time comes. Doing this ahead of time will save you from forgetting, and ensure you’re not missing out on potential appointments.
#8 Reach out to clients who haven’t been in for a while
Just like birthday cards, getting in front of clients who haven’t been in to see you for a while can do wonders for filling those empty appointment slots. Whether you send a card in the mail, a quick email or text, or call to check in and let them know your availability – obviously once things go back to normal; reminding your clients that you’re here and that they need to take care of themselves will often get you at least a few appointments.
#9 Look up local marketing opportunities
So things are slow and you’re not sure how to build it up? Obviously marketing is key. But that’s easy to say, and sometimes not so easy to do. The first step is trying to find ways to market. Take a look around your town’s upcoming events. Are there any that might appeal to your ideal client? If so, you definitely want to be there. Call up the organizer, or call around until you find them, and see what it takes to set up and offer massage. If you can’t find any particular events, make your own marketing opportunities. Call your local factories, schools, doctor’s offices, gyms, banks, and retail stores. Ask if they’d like you to come in and offer massage to their staff.
Marketing isn’t about following some simple formula, and you cannot afford to be passive in your marketing efforts. There’s no secret sauce. It’s the drive and persistence that will make all the difference in the end.
#10 Update your treatment room
Sometimes things just need to be refreshed. You can do some simple updates, like rearranging things to better suit your typical session. Or you may decide to paint every wall and get some new decorations to redesign the whole thing. Use that slow time to figure out what changes you want to make and start implementing them. Don’t get lost on Pinterest looking for ideas for hours on end, but find some inspiration and make a plan to get the ball rolling. If it’s going to take a larger chunk of money, it may start as a financial plan to save for specific items, and then you can start actually buying the pieces to put it all together later. Or maybe you take the time to add every little item to your Amazon wishlist and when you’ve reached certain goals, treat yourself by splurging on an upgrade! You’ll be surprised how adding some new life into your treatment room can boost your clients’ experience, and the passion you have for your business.
As a business owner, it’s crucial to know how to use your time wisely. Those slow times are of special significance. Taking advantage of those times to constantly grow and expand can help in the short term and in the long term. So use these 10 ideas to brainstorm how you can use the current times, and those slow days or weeks that naturally happen in business, to make your company even better!
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