Clusterbooking: The key to keeping your schedule from becoming a cluster*&$%
We all know this service provider. (I’m going to use a massage therapist as an example, but she could easily be a personal trainer, acupuncturist, nutritionist… you get the idea.)
Monday she has one person scheduled.
Tuesday she has three people scheduled, but she has a huge hole in her day.
Wednesday she had two, but one was a no-show and the gap wasn’t frustratingly big, but not long enough to run errands or go home.
Thursday she waited to hear back from a person who wanted to book, but never saw a client.
Friday she had someone in the morning and two evenings.
Saturday she had a bunch of people, one right on top of the other and no time for lunch.
Sunday she saw several people.
She is feeling frustrated, exhausted, burned out, and tired of the feast-or-famine that she’s experiencing.
This therapist desperately needs to think about smarter scheduling and controlling her schedule (rather than letting her clients control it).
This article is going to talk about one of the best ways to try and structure your week: cluster booking.
The benefits of cluster booking:
– You maximize the use of your time by minimizing down town between appointments
– You can be purposeful about adding in time to eat, stretch, turn over your treatment room, etc
– You can see more people in less time
– You have the possibility of making more money
Disclaimer: You will occasionally find a customer who really really really cannot fit into your schedule without you bending over backwards. Whether you take them or refer them out is up to you. It’s all about priorities. So I’m not claiming this will work 100% of the time.
Step 1: Decide on your days off
YES. You must take a day off. And you should do it guilt-free. It can be any day (or days) that you want, so feel free to book it around your favorite yoga class, hobbies, or simply whichever day is traditionally slowest for you. (You are tracking that kind of thing, right?)
Now that you have your day or days off, you will NOT work on that day. Got it? Seriously. I mean it.
You must take care of yourself before you can take care of others. In the event of an emergency on the plane, whose mask do you put on first? Your own, right? You can take at least one day off a week.
Step 2: Figure out the rest of your week
What other obligations do you have? Do you have to take the kids to school in the morning or pick them up in the afternoon? Are there any family members or friends who you drive to appointments? Is there a class you love to take at the gym?
Depending on your profession and any specialization or niche, you’ll find that you have certain times that are busier than others. Many massage therapists who do general relaxation massage find they’re busier some evenings and weekends when their clients are off work. Personal trainers might see clients early in the morning. So base this advice on YOUR busy times.
How long is your average appointment? If you only do hour sessions, this will be easier. If you do a variety of times, a little trickier but still do-able.
Figure out what your ideal schedule would be for each day. Here’s an example for a therapist who wants to see six patients a day, only does hour sessions, works on a retired clientele, and is comfortable with 15-minutes between clients: 8:00, 9:15, 10:30, (break for lunch), 12:00, 1:15, 2:30
Step 3: Book your schedule
Let’s say your 8:00 and 10:30 are already scheduled, but you still have an opening at 9:15. The first time you’d offer your client is 9:15. If that doesn’t work, you’d offer 12:00. They choose 12:00. The next customer to want to book that day gets offered 9:15 first and 1:15 if that doesn’t work.
You are booking your clients in clusters. Hench the term cluster-booking.
Using the dual-ended scheduling technique will help you take control of your scheduling.
You also might be interested in reading about what to do what to say (and what not to say) when you aren’t available to give a massage (or other treatment). You also might want to read about why you should control your own schedule (rather than letting clients do it for you).