When it comes to running a therapy practice you never know what is around the corner and this is certainly the case when it comes to the latest news about Coronavirus. If you haven’t realised it yet this virus is likely to create some short term disruption for your therapy business so I thought I would give some pointers as to what you could do to insulate yourself and your income from its impact. In addition I thought I would discuss some things that you probably haven’t thought about so that you are ready for what may be to come. This post is not designed to make you panic but it has been written to make sure that you are prepared. Every other business in the UK is currently planning for what is to come so you need to as well.
In the UK as I am writing this there are now 35 cases but this is growing day by day. It is only a matter of time before measures are put in place by the government to try and contain the spread. Here is what could happen over the next few weeks and months.
- Non essential work travel is likely to be stopped
- Employees may be asked to work from home
- Some work will stop completely as people park new ventures until this blows over
- People will be more reluctant to visit busy areas
- Major tourist attractions are likely to shut (The Louvre has just closed as I am writing this)
- More people are likely to be self quarantining
- Schools are likely to close and children sent home
Coronavirus Is Likely to Hit Your Profits
These are potential problems that I think you may see as a self employed therapist.
If you have children and they are sent home from school you may have problems running your business and looking after the kids. Start to think about what you could do to make sure that you can carry on working (if possible). Look at sharing childcare with friends and family or if you have a partner in a different industry splitting the hours you work so you can both carry on making a living.
As people begin to avoid non essential travel there are likely to be issues with those of you that work in big therapy centres especially in large towns and cities. Are you tied in to paying for a room that you might not be using? Are you temporarily able to stop using that room and setting up at home instead? Home set ups are not always so professional looking (depending on your circumstances) but they cost nothing and don’t have the foot fall of a busy therapy centre which might put some people off. Have some plans in place in case you need to juggle things around. In China only 30% of small businesses were able to stay open during this outbreak how can you ensure that you are one of them.
This is the absolute perfect time to talk about online therapy sessions. Nobody has to leave their house to conduct the sessions which means it is highly suitable for what is to come. If your therapy business isn’t geared up for online sessions get this organised right now so that you can stay working.
All of you should have written contracts with your clients detailing what you provide and how much it costs. Now is the time to write an extra clause to outline what will happen if sessions are disrupted due to Coronavirus. You need to think about what you should do with all new and existing clients (especially those who have signed up with you for a number of sessions). Make them aware that face to face sessions may need to be changed to online sessions. Get your existing clients ready for this and in your intake forms get their online details.
Therapy Training Providers
If you run therapy training courses or CPD days and have taken money in advance what are you going to do if you are unable to complete the courses because your venues have closed or people are unable to attend? Again try and make arrangements to come up with alternatives such as training online so that people are able to complete their courses even if they aren’t coming to a venue.
Diversifying Therapy Income
The economy in general is going to be impacted in the short term because of this virus. As an example say you work in the retail sector (which is already suffering) and people stay away from the shops in droves. It is only a matter of time before there are lay offs and redundancies as companies cannot afford to pay staff. Less money in the economy means that therapy will feel less affordable to some or sessions will be parked until the crisis blows over. Diversifying your income is always a good idea to insulate your therapy business from these ups and downs.
Adapting Your Therapy Services
Before I ever worked as a therapy marketer I used to be a trader. I know from my experience world events had a big impact on prices and demand and that is something I can see happening right now. Shares in Ryanair and other airlines are tanking for a good reason. The market expects far less people to travel in the near future and that is impacting the valuation of those companies. Now start to apply that to what you are selling in your therapy business. Clearly you are going to get less customers for fear of flying and public speaking. Equally I would expect an upturn in anxiety and sleep problems.
If you do have business interruption insurance now is the time to pull out your policy and check to see whether you are covered for any loss of income related to Coronavirus. Have these discussions now and not later when it may be more difficult to get an answer.
On the Positive Side
It is not all doom and gloom. If you are forced to take some time out over the coming months then this is the perfect time to work on growing a stronger business for the future. Creating passive income products is a great way of doing this so that are more likely to get money coming into your practice even when things are not going to plan. Also setting up your website so that you can attract and adapt to new market situations is important. Do you have a website that can do this? If not learn how with my Make Your Therapy Website Into a Client Magnet course.
Also as a trained therapist this is the perfect time to advertise your services as a health anxiety expert. Many people with anxiety are going to have mental health issues because of the worries about this virus. This is your time to step in and help those people to feel calmer and more in control while the newspapers write headlines designed to scare everyone to death! This is going to be a thriving therapy business market.
Things will inevitably pass as they always do but the lay of the land may be very different when this scare is over. I can see that this virus will reduce the pool of therapists out there. This is because many will find it difficult dealing with lower or no income over the coming months and are likely to retrain or go back to salaried jobs. As ever in times of economic upheaval the strong and prepared businesses will thrive whilst the weaker will shut up shop. Make sure you are the former!
Finally Look After Yourself
As a therapist your are your income. If you are ill then your therapy business is impacted as well. Make sure that you are firm about not only keeping your clients safe but yourself as well. Be firm with clients and tell them you will not see them if they are showing any signs of a cough or a cold. Make sure that you wipe down therapy couches, door handles and surfaces clients may have touched to prevent the spread. Place hand sanitiser by your door for everyone to use. Don’t shake hands with clients or if you do wash them immediately after. If your clients use your toilet make sure that you stop using normal towels and instead get them to use disposable hand towels. Make sure that you clean the toilet after each use. These common sense approaches that will keep you well and working.
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