I’ve been in the Health and Wellness industry for over 2 decades, since 1985. (That’s longer than some of you have been alive!)
I’ve seen the industry ebb and flow, therapists thrive, and barely survive, and some, therapists close the doors to their business due to ‘circumstances beyond their control’.
I’ve created this list, which will be my annual list of predictions on where I see our industry going, and I’ll extrapolate a little on how I see you using the prediction to your advantage.
I am not a fortune teller, nor do I have a crystal ball to be able to know if my thoughts are accurate, but based on my education, involvement, awareness and yes, a little intuition, this is what I predict is important to direct your attention in 2012.
These ten predictions are all related to your wellness business and how you can improve on your success.
I now bring you my predictions for 2012.
1. Provide Stellar Customer Service, … or Die:
There are way too many service providers and other options for clients where they can find a similar if not better solution to their problem. Gone are the days when therapists can just skirt by with a casual business and a lazy, arrogant attitude. You will absolutely have to be professional, punctual, polite, personable, and all the other “P”s!
I suggest you begin to be super-aware of all the details of all aspects of your practice so you can be the one to offer the best service and the best results, or they will go elsewhere.
2. Your UAC: (pronounced Yak)
There are so many choices of service providers, it’s hard for a client to know who to choose.
To survive 2012, you must figure out what sets you apart from the others. You must know the reason clients should choose you over all the rest. Give them a reason to talk about you to their friends and family.
Some marketing experts call it your “USP” which stands for Unique Selling Proposition, but I call it your U.A.C. which is what makes you appealing to your clients. It makes them want to go to you. What is your Unique Appeal for Clients? When you come up with an amazing attribute, service, or distinction, that appeals to the clients that are drawn to you, and that they can only get from you or at your clinic, that is your uac! And they will “Yak” about you all day long.
3. Electronic Payments
With so many people online and using their smart phones, you must be able to take payments electronically. By mid-year it will become expected by most clients to be able to pay every one of their service providers electronically. Clients want the convenience and the frequent flier miles that accrue with credit card use. If you are not set up to process credit cards electronically, they will go elsewhere. Try squareup.com or paypal.com for starters.
4. Use Video for Education and Marketing
Clients want to connect on a personal level with their potential therapist. Video makes it super easy for them to see you and decide if they want to work with you. Start to create simple, short videos giving a wellness tip, discussing a modality, or describing you and your services. You can film them on your inexpensive video camera, or smart phone, and upload it to YouTube.com. Then post on your social media accounts and website to attract many more clients, and referral sources more easily.
5. No “Nickel & Dime-ing”
Clients are getting hit with small add-on fees from the banks and airlines and are tired about it. (This goes along with #1 above as part of your Stellar service.) They want ‘transparancy’ in pricing, good value and great results. Look at what you’re now charging extra for (such as bottled water) and see if you can include it at no additional cost. BUT, the key here is to let them know you’re throwing it in ‘on the house’. Let them know you are giving them a little extra at no extra charge.
An example is that my Wellness Center is giving away single packets of Emergen-C™ at check out to keep the colds and flu away. It costs us about 45 cents each, but clients love it!
6. Shorter Sessions and Lower Price
Most everyone is short on time and low on money. So for many clients, a 90 minute massage is not as appealing as it once was. Look at your menu of services and see if you can offer shorter sessions with lower price points, to allow clients to come in and get great results that still pack a punch, but do not require them to give up as much money or time.
7. Daily Deals
I personally think this is one of the best concepts since pb&js. Where else can you advertise to get new clients and only pay for it AFTER the fact?
But, if you are one of the many who don’t like it — you can fight it all you want, but the Daily Deal concept will be around in one form or another this year, due to my prediction #6.
People want a good deal, and are willing to try a new service provider when there is less financial risk. If you ignore the trend and do not offer a deal through one of the companies, be aware that your clients might ask you to offer them a ‘Daily Deal” direct. To avoid being left out on this trend, be prepared on how you will address this issue. If you choose to participate and offer a deal on your services or products, research the best way to handle the situation from how you price it, to how you deal with the flow of new (and past) clients who respond to your offer.
8. Online Directories & Review Sites
Yelp.com, CitySearch.com, AngiesList.com and many other online directories are the preferred way some clients find and verify the legitimacy of a service provider. To succeed this year, search these directories for yourself and your business and be sure your information is accurate. Begin to systematically request your happy clients to post reviews of you.
9. Boundaries & Ethics
With social media so available, it is easy to get in trouble by casually mentioning something or someone, and end up in legal hot water. “Social proof’ is a great way to market yourself, just be sure you have authorization or permission to name drop or discuss topics that are confidential.
10. Distinction of Workers Status
The government will be cracking down on many more small businesses who are operating their businesses incorrectly. The classification of workers is an important area that they will be looking at because it is an easy place for them to find ‘lost revenue’. They will be looking at the difference between employees and independent contractors and if classified incorrectly, can result in major fines, penalties and hundreds of hours of time. (http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html ) If you are a business owner and have therapists working for you, or if you are a therapist working for someone else, carefully examine the structure of the business and the services being provided and be sure they are aligned properly.
There you have it. Please don’t shoot the messenger!
I do suggest you see what changes might be good for you to make this year, so you can make 2012 a great year for you and your practice!
Tell me what you think about my predictions, or add some of your own, ok?
Have fun and Happy 2012!