Unexpected downtime is a blessing and a curse. We chat about how to use your time effectively so you feel good about it at the end of a day.
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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.
Allissa Haines And I am Allissa Haines.
MR And we’re your hosts. Welcome, welcome. We’re glad you’re here. Allissa, I’m glad you’re here, too.
AH Aw, thanks.
MR Because I would be lonely otherwise.
AH I’m super glad we’re — it’s nice to be here.
AH How is your day going, Michael?
MR It’s actually going pretty well. I have a lot of business-y things going on, things are moving and shaking. I’m making progress on some new start-up stuff I’m doing. So yeah. Sorry to be mysterious and kind of vague podcast, but yeah, things are going well.
AH We’ll hear all about it soon enough, I’m sure.
MR Yeah, yeah.
AH I — we have a short topic today, so I’m going to use this opportunity and this episode to share a little bit of excitement.
AH I already told you about it this morning, but, you know, we talk a lot about money and budgeting and — so I wanted to share my victory. Oh, and you know what? I’m going to use this opportunity to tell tell — in our premium member discussion group, every month I put up a new image and I kind of tag it to the top of the group page, and it’s a place for us to share our victories; like little victories and big victories and like yay, I got ten new clients.
MR The boom feed.
AH It’s the boom feed, yeah, because it’s like when something really good happens and you’re like, boom, mic drop.
AH So anyhow, we have that, and I was going to share it in the — I will share it in the group shortly, but I’m really excited because I had a big victory today. I had my tax preparation appointment with my CPA —
MR Oh, yeah.
AH And yeah. And I had some great deductions for 2018 building that little home office space, and I did better on paying my quarterly taxes than I have in many past years. Without making it a big, long story, I got some really bad advice several years ago when I was kind of starting up that was like you don’t need to pay your quarterlies and then I got behind on my quarterlies and then I had big tax bills, and it’s taken me a long time to catch up and get ahead. So I had a phenomenal tax prep appointment today where what I owe is equal to what I have in the bank. (Laughter)
MR Nice. Way to break even.
AH Yeah, and I even — and actually because I paid all of my state quarterlies finally, I actually overpaid because of some various deductions and strokes of good luck and legislation. I actually paid ahead on my state, so I don’t need to pay state quarterlies for 2019, which is so nice. Like, okay, I already paid that.
MR Well done.
AH So it’s just a big victory for me to not feel like I’m 12 months behind always. So it’s really, really nice, and it’s heartening because it’s something I’ve been working really hard at, but it’s the kind of thing you just got to chip away at it. It’s not — there’s no big windfall that’s going to take me out of this pain, so. (Laughter).
AH So it’s been work and I’ve flubbed up a bunch along the way, but it feels really, really good to walk out of a tax appointment and not be terrified figuring out how I’m going to come up with what I need to come up with or am I going to have to do a payment plan. Because it’s all — and years. When I say that it’s taken me years to catch up, it has taken me years, multiple years, more than four, to catch up. And it feels really, really good. So that’s my victory of the day.
MR Well, congratulations.
AH Thank you, you already sent me a wonderful congratulations message. It was great. You tried to send me a happy gif, but it didn’t work. Is it [gif] or [jif], I don’t know.
MR It is gif. You can remember it because it’s graphics, hard “G”. Gif stands for graphical interchange format.
AH Okay, people I live with call it [jif], and I love them anyway.
MR Well, it’s not peanut better.
AH Yeah, there you go. That’s true.
AH Good grief. So, Michael, what’s our topic today?
MR Our topic is using downtime to build your massage business.
AH Yay, because it’s tis the season of last-minute cancellations.
MR (Laughter) Yeah, cold and flu season and random wintery things.
AH Yeah, and you know, I’ve talked about this in a few places, but it’s really something. The past couple of years — and you know, I always look at things with, like, a real long view, but it really seems like, probably, the past year, year and a half, last-minute cancellations have gotten more and more frequent and not just for wacky emergency reasons. And to the point where I have instituted a new cancellation policy in my own massage practice; haven’t had to enforce it yet, but we’ll see. It’s only been a week and a half.
And I’m hearing this more and more from more and more practitioners, just lots and lots of same day kinds of cancellations. And even when you have a fee for that, it’s super aggravating because you, in your head, feel this loss of money, even if there’s a fee, whatever, or just a loss of momentum when your client numbers go down for a week or a month. And it’s super aggravating.
But you can use your time wisely and simply and turn it into a win to make you more money or even give yourself a break later that week or month. But most of us don’t do that. You know, when a last minute cancellation comes in, it becomes an extended break time or an extended lunch time, and then not only have you lost a client and the cash from that, but you’ve lost valuable time. Then by the end of that day, we feel like crap because we realize that one, we didn’t make as much money as we thought we were going to that day, and even if there’s a fee — or we feel aggravated because we could have fit somebody else into that time but the cancellation didn’t come in within enough time to make that happen, or we haven’t created a good waiting list or “who to call when you have cancellations” option. And again, we waste that time.
So I wanted to talk today about a few things you can do to use that downtime, and especially that last-minute downtime, to build your future massage business, to increase the numbers on your schedule later or just be wise and thoughtful with that time. And part of this lost appointment thing is so aggravating because if next week is full, it’s not like I want to do something like right this second to fill up more schedule because if people start calling, I can’t fit them in for a couple weeks anyway. So you have to kind of measure your marketing ability and measure the space available to you to decide what to do. But no matter what, if you use that time, use that fresh, unexpected downtime wisely, you’re either going to fill the next couple weeks of your schedule, which may or may not be your goal, or give yourself some needed time off because you’re going to get a whole bunch of stuff done and you won’t have to do it outside of your client time in the next couple of weeks.
So if you take a moment to actively consider what will make me feel good about this chunk of time I have been handed, that can make a huge difference. I remember reading somewhere in a productivity thing, like, nobody goes to be at night wishing they’d spent more time on Facebook. But people will go to bed at night wishing they had finished that task in their business or wishing they had read that novel they were getting into or wishing they had spent more quality time with their kids or wishing they had whatever. But rarely does anyone go to bed at night and think I wish I had spent more time scrolling on my social media. Or I wish I had spent more time in front of that terrible sitcom I’m binge watching.
So keep that in mind. What is going to make you feel good about the use of this chunk of time that you have been handed? Think on that and then do that thing. So the most obvious is to hit your regular list, your regular to do list, of upkeep and maintenance activities like bookkeeping and cleaning and catching up on foundational aspects like inputting any information, like data input, or filing if you’ve still got paper files, or keeping an eye on your budget or looking to see if you can increase your 401(k) contributions or whatever. The regular things that happen in your massage business that maybe you do them on a schedule — some people are really good about that, or maybe you just do them when you have random pockets of time; now you have a random pocket of time, fill it with one of these regular tasks. And that’s kind of the most obvious and most boring time to fill that time.
So before I get into stuff that’s a little more creative, Michael who is our halftime sponsor today?
MR Today it’s our favorite online scheduling platform, Acuity.
AH It is indeed!
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AH So let’s jump back into things we can do to fill our downtime. And it’s a little less obvious, but maybe write a to do list of some of these things. I’m going to give you some — throw some ideas at you and then I’m going to give you some pro tips at the end. So you could write some notes, like some real, handwritten notes that you send send via the U.S. Postal Service with a stamp on them to a client who fell out of treatment. You can get really simple, basic, blank notecard stationary at the dollar store. It’s super easy. People love getting mail, real mail that’s not a bill or whatever. People — it’s a joy. So you can kind of do that joyfully knowing that you are giving someone else pleasure with a note that says something very simple like I’ve been thinking of you; hope you are well, and you throw a business card in there or you stick it to the inside of that notecard. Whatever. Or if you’re super classy, you have business logoed stationary notecards, that’s — maybe you could spend the next hour of cancellation that you have, spending 10 bucks on Vistaprint and getting some stationary made, some actual customized notecards. Woo hoo.
The thing about this is that when you’re deciding who to send these notes to, you don’t want to turn it into a whole big thing. You don’t want this to turn into a clean out your file cabinet of all the inactive files and sort through them kind of activity because that’s a huge task. You don’t have time for that. You have an hour that you want to use to reach out to some lost clients because maybe they’ll schedule an appointment and come back in, or you’ll just give them a little joy for the day. And you’ll end up with this big pile of files that you’re not going to have time to put back or deal with because you only had one cancellation, you didn’t have 20. So you pull a file, you write a note, you send it in the mail. Period. Done.
Another thing you could do is send an email or two to some referral partners or friends that have referred lots of people to you and schedule a meet up. Send that email, make that phone call. Hey, I haven’t seen you in a couple of months and I really want to hear about how your personal training business is going; would you like to set a coffee date for next week? That’s it. Send a couple of emails. Use that hour that you have from your cancellation to send a few emails and make a few appointments to whatever, meet up with some referral partners. It’s a nice thing to do. And then when you have that meeting, you’re going to feel good and reinvigorated about it.
But here’s the thing and here’s the secret. Whatever you choose to do, don’t choose to make it a whole big thing. Do not decide that in your hour or two of cancellations this week you are going to learn how to build your own website. Don’t get complicated or take on a learning curve or do anything that’s going to cause your more aggravation because then you won’t do it, and then you’re still going to feel crappy about how you used your time because you’ll feel like you were spinning your wheels and you didn’t get anywhere. Pick one tangible, measurable, “I can do this activity and at the end of an hour or so it will be done” kind of activity. Ideally, one that will rejuvenate or restore or maintain a connection with a referral partner or reinvigorate a relationship with a long lost client. Or you could use this time to get some kind of waiting list thing set up, whether it be a bulk text system or a spreadsheet or just a document that you make notes for people who would love to get in sooner if you have a cancellation, and then act on that.
Michael, what are your tips for productive last-minute downtime?
MR Pretty much the same as yours. Have a list.
MR I mean, everyone that know me a little bit knows I use Wunderlist as my to do list of choice, and so there’s always something on there to do. So yeah, I batch things by context and by business and by area of life, and so if I get downtime, there’s usually something on there I can do, so. You’re right. Keep it short. You don’t want to dive into a three-hour project. So pretty much the same as what you said.
AH All right, well, I’m glad I got it all perfectly correct.
MR It’s perfect.
AH (Laughter) I’m done.
MR Flawless execution, flawless victory.
AH (Laughter) I’ll take it.
MR All right, I guess that means we’re done, which is my cue to tell you that we appreciate you listing. Thanks, everybody, for joining us today. Reminder our website is massagebusinessblueprint.com. If you’re not a premium member, that is where you can join our premium community that all the kids are talking about these days. Sign up online and join us in the private Facebook group and get access to all the content that is for premium members only including free office hours with peer mentoring and consulting. You can email us questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you. So again, thanks for joining us today and we’ll see you next time.