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82 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k n ove m b e r/d e ce m b e r 2 0 2 3 essential skills | BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS Annual Reflection Can Improve Your Business By Allissa Haines Every first week of November, I start scheduling my regular clients for the next calendar year. This acknowledgment of how time flies inevitably serves as a nudge to get my act together and think through my priorities for the year ahead. An end-of-the-year ref lection is a valuable tool to avoid the burnout that's common in caregiving professions. This ref lection doesn't need to be a big process that requires half a day of deep thinking and journaling. Just being a bit more aware of your day-to- day routines and feelings can be enough to help you decide what parts of your business need to change or improve. We've explored in the past how to consider your physical, mental, and financial spaces in preparation for a new year ("End Well and Begin Again," Massage & Bodywork, November/December 2021, page 18). Lately, I've found myself thinking more about the less tangible and harder-to-nail-down parts of my business. MIRIAM ESPACIO/PEXELS TAKEAWAY: Make an effort to notice the days and weeks that feel good to you and when your schedule doesn't feel so great so you can make adjustments to suit your needs. I've been ref lecting on my internal guidelines governing response time to client communications, how many days (or days in a row) per week I want to be in my massage office, and when and why I'll turn away new clients. COMMUNICATING AND RESPONSE TIME It's good business practice to be consistent and timely in returning phone calls, texts, and emails from clients. Nobody likes to be left hanging, uncertain of when or if they can get in for a massage. At the same time, boundaries around your personal time are important for your well-being. Consider your business hours and how you feel about responding to clients outside those hours. If your policy needs an upgrade, put that in place. It can take some time to retrain clients who are used to you always being available. Use an automated email reply or outgoing message on your voicemail saying, "Thanks for your message. I will respond on my next business day. You can schedule your appointment online and see my business hours at [website]." Text can be a little trickier because automatic text responses aren't an available feature on every device. It may be helpful to acknowledge the text and offer a "self-serve"

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