Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2010

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visit POLICIES, PROCEDURES, PROSPERITY Successful employers, especially those in the corporate world, almost always have a policies and procedures manual that serves as guidance for daily operations. A practitioner who works alone may think that a policies and procedure manual isn't a necessity, but it's actually one of the most useful things you can have. Any person who has been self- employed for any length of time can vouch for the fact that the unexpected sometimes happens. Having written policies and the procedures in place to fall back on can keep you from acting rashly during an emotional moment and saying or doing something you might regret later. In the event you have other people in your business, or plan to have them in the future, writing a manual should be at the top of your priority list. From a liability standpoint, being able to prove that a staff member acted contrary to your company policies could be in your favor in the event you're sued. From a common-sense standpoint, it will serve to ensure that all staff members are on the same page and that they're representative of the manner in which you want your business conducted. Having policies and procedures in place is also a measure of protection for your income as a small business owner. WRITING YOUR MANUAL A loose-leaf notebook is best; if you decide to change a policy, you can just remove the old page and insert the new. Your policy manual is not going to be the same as mine; every practitioner is going to have their own opinions and desires about how to deal with things. If you're an employer, the question is, "How would I want my staff member to handle this if I wasn't here?" Also, the shorter and more concise it is, the better. You can go a step further and compose a script for your staff member to use, for instance if she was dealing with a no-show, an accident on the premises, or an unsatisfied client. Take each item on the list, and write a short description of how you would want that situation handled, then compose your script. Ask a few impartial parties to look it over. You want to write policies and procedures that are easy to understand and nondiscriminatory; especially a concern if you employ others. EXAMPLE: NO-SHOWS Policy. Each client will be allowed one no-show without being billed. After one no-show, the client will be billed, allowing for emergency exceptions such as death in the family. Procedure. Contact clients 30 minutes after the time of the missed appointment. Politely state that they have missed an appointment, ask them to reschedule, and remind them that after one missed appointment they will be billed for no-shows. Script. Mrs. Brown, this is Paul at Main Street Massage. I had you scheduled for a 2:00 p.m. appointment today, and you missed it. Is everything OK (ask in order to ascertain whether or not there has been a personal emergency)? I can reschedule you for 2:00 p.m. next Tuesday. We won't charge you for today, but I just need to remind you that in the future I'll have to bill you for a missed appointment if I don't get 24 hours notice that you need to cancel. Thank you for understanding, and I'll see you next week. I chose the no-show policy as an example, because that is the bane of every massage therapist's existence. Every no-show, or last-minute cancellation, equals lost income. While we all want to help people by sharing the gift of massage, most of us need to have a certain amount of money in order to meet our obligations. Just like a child behaving badly who doesn't learn any better if there aren't any consequences, the client has to be educated that you had that hour set aside, and if she doesn't show up, you've just lost your income for that hour. Someone else could have taken the appointment if she had just called to let you know she wasn't coming. Of course, there's an exception to every rule. You wouldn't bill for a missed appointment if someone was involved in a car accident on the connect with your colleagues on 21

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