How to Handle Seasonal Fluctuations in Your Acupuncture Practice
Do you know that feeling of being in sync with the seasons?
There are good reasons people fall in love in the spring, thrive in the summer sun, slow down in the fall, and want to snuggle up in winter.
Ancient Chinese wisdom formulated the concept of Wu Xing, defining five elements that also characterize the five phases of the year: spring/wood, summer/fire, late summer/earth, fall/metal, and winter/water. Many modern-day acupuncturists still plan treatment schedules around these phases, recognizing the interconnectedness of our minds, bodies, and spirits with the yearly planetary cycle.
Unfortunately, the economy has its own annual phases that are not always as harmonious. If you’re in the business of running an acupuncture practice, you’ll know that not every month brings with it the same heavy appointment schedule, sales, and revenue.
While acupuncture is not as vulnerable to seasonal fluctuations as every business — try selling snowshoes in April — you’ll have to deal with peaks and valleys. It’s an unavoidable part of acupuncture practice management.
So what is the best way to handle seasonal fluctuations as an acupuncturist? Here are 5 tips we recommend for your acupuncture practice:
1) Know your local market
Market research is essential. Get to know the chamber of commerce, keep up with local business news, and reach out to the local business community. Learn everything you can about the seasonal economic peculiarities of your location, plan for them, and think of ways to use them to your advantage.
2) Learn from last year
Sometimes in the whirlwind of running an acupuncture practice on a day-to-day basis, you can miss the bigger picture. That’s why it’s important to take time to analyze the statistics of your revenue stream month by month. Take advantage of acupuncture practice management software to keep abreast of this information. That way you can more carefully assess staffing and inventory requirements to maximize efficiency across the year.
3) Offer discounts
You can attempt to compensate for seasonal downturns in activity by marketing discounted treatments and products to your patient roster during the weaker months. Sometimes patients just need that little bit of extra encouragement to visit.
4) Spread out your expenses
Let’s face it, some business expenses are basically non-negotiable. Others are a little easier to spread out across the year. You don’t want to be hit by a barrage of bills just when your appointment schedule is at its quietest. It’s a good idea to plan for the year’s expenses and see how flexible you can spread payments across the year.
5) Take a vacation at the right time
A slow season may simply be sending you a hint: time take a break! It may well make the best economic sense to take a vacation when your appointment schedule is quiet. Sitting on the beach sure beats sitting in an empty clinic. It’ll be great for your mind, body, and spirit and recharge you for the next year.
Guest blog post by Matt Leask.