It was a combination of factors. (Isn’t it always?) Without revealing too much info lest someone described herein finds this blog and starts to think I might be talking about them, one of our patients/clients referred another. This is the Holy Grail of private practice – referrals are a very good thing. But be careful which of your clientele is doing the referring, because as far as friendships and family ties go, apples don’t fall far from trees and your new clientele will often be more of the same.
We all got blind-sided yesterday. Although we love new clients/patients/etc, sometimes we have to lay down the law. As in, clinic-director-yanks-you-into-the-office-when-you-arrive-for-your-first-appointment-and-scolds-you-for-your-behavior-thus-far. This is extreme – I never imagined this would happen and I hope it never happens again.
What would necessitate such a thing? Oh, a phone call (that I made) 10 minutes into an hour-and-a-half appointment, in which case the absent person, in a combination of nonchalance and elitist snip, says they thought they’d come in an hour later and do just a half hour instead. Leaving my therapist dead in the water, sans income, for a quarter of her workday. And leaving the 2 other people who inquired about morning massage therapy appointments, dead in the water, sans pain relief, because those time slots were already taken. And let me repeat: I made the phone call; this person could not be bothered to call us.
It was fucking Dallas all over again. All the snippy people that had tried to run my practice in every possible way before, all came flooding back.
The new person did not arrive until 15 minutes into the now-30-min appointment. As is typical with these folks, this person didn’t bother looking up the address or location or consult a free online map before starting out, so naturally they got lost. Our therapist, bless her heart, doing her best, gave the new person a few extra minutes to try to maximize the massage time. Laws of time are not necessarily sympathetic, so the schedule got backed up, bit by bit.
Then, the person who referred the New Problem came in for their appointment (also massage only), and after a 20-min wait, they couldn’t wait anymore, so they left. Ironic that it was their own friend/referral that caused the train wreck in the first place, but we couldn’t disclose that. Also ironic that the referrer is also consistently a few minutes late for their appointments and never complains about getting the full time when receiving the same favor. I understand the displeasure and the need to leave, but upon leaving I was ordered (or so it felt) that we “had to change our system”.
So we did.
When you bitch, be careful what you ask for.
Change #1: Massage is no longer 30 minutes. The rule of thumb is now 30 minutes from one start time to the next so that we can begin on time, every time. Those who are late get an even shorter appointment. This applies especially to I’m-consistently-late-but-still-enjoy-the-full-time-but-I-get-pissy-when-I-have-to-wait. No leniency.
Change #2: Those seeking massage therapy only (and not any of our other alternative medical services) will have to turn in their intake forms before we’ll even schedule their first appointment, and this paperwork will include a credit card authorization to charge their card if they no-show or cancel with inappropriate notice. No leniency.
Change #3: Oh by the way, it’s a great time to ban cell phones in the office. I’m on the warpath, so why not make this much-needed change, too?
Morals of the story:
1. To those seeking “change”, be careful what you wish for.
2. To those who complain when their own backyard is a rat’s nest, don’t. Those rats bite back.
And so do I.