Time Management

I recently I made an appointment to see a new massage therapist at a clinic I hadn’t been to before. The experience didn’t go as planned….

Being a practitioner myself, I always arrive at appointments with new practitioners early. Why? Because there is always the obligatory forms to fill in. I recommend my own new clients to do the same. That way they get the full amount of time for the treatment rather than a shortened version due to the intake form being filled out inside the treatment time. This is not an uncommon practice. You probably do the same, right?

So I arrived 15 minutes early to my massage appointment. And I find a sign on the door saying they would return at 11am, when my treatment was due to start. So I waited. The good news? My practitioner arrived when the sign said. BUT they still had to set up their room ready for the treatment. Not good. So I waited some more. Once they set up their room, I was given the form to fill out. Then they were waiting for me.

I love getting treatments. And I expect to receive the time I pay for, not 10 minutes shorter because the practitioner isn’t ready to start at the agreed time. Remarkably, in this case, the practitioner did give me my full session time. But the session ran fifteen minutes over. As they didn’t have a receptionist there was time spent writing out the receipt and processing the payment. So now I’m twenty minutes late to get back to work. Now I’m running late. And stressed. All that de-stress work the massage therapist did suddenly reversed itself. Leaving the clinic I saw the next client in the waiting room looking at their watch. They will be running late too.

Too often practitioners decide – without consultation with the client – to spend more than the allocated session time to ensure they get the results they want. The practitioner is thinking they are being conscientious and generous with their time. But they are not thinking that their client might have to be somewhere else. They are also not thinking of the next client in the waiting room who also has commitments elsewhere. Problematic, yes?

In my practice the treatment room is set up ready to go the night before. This means if for some reason I’m running late I’m less likely to inconvenience my client. I also aim to arrive 30 minutes prior to my first appointment. This prevents me from having to rush, gives me time to do a brief look over the client files, check for messages, turn on the music etc.

I never run my sessions overtime to work more with a client, unless:

  1. I have no client waiting afterwards, and
  2. The client I’m working with is fine for me to run overtime (for the time clearly stipulated), and
  3. This is a special situation which really demands it.

Why? Because you don’t want clients to expect impromtu extended sessions, nor do you want you clients to be wondering how long the session might be next time. Clients like to know the usual process. Consistently gives people comfort.

So be aware of your session time duration. And stick to it – for everyone’s sake.

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Jeff Shearer is a registered Chinese medicine practitioner in Newcastle, Australia. He has been teaching practitioners since 2009 helping them to become the best they can be to serve their communities better.