I’ve spoken with a TON of health care pros about their client assessment protocols over the years. I’ve been a ‘fly on the wall’ while watching many kinds of intake evaluations from the same practitioners and from different practitioners.
Some practitioners have told me that they have very limited time to complete their assessments, so they march their clients from the start to the finish as fast as they can with very little talking. They are SO experienced they could do their assessments from back to front in their sleep.
Other practitioners paused after I asked this question. They had never stopped to think about their speed, whether they actually spoke out loud as they worked their way through their list of tests or how their clients perceived the assessment process all together!
Most practitioners weren’t sure what their clients thought about during their assessment. The practitioners were all highly motivated to find the root cause of a client’s complaint - and the faster they could find it, the better!
In my opinion, the most prepared practitioners said they book an hour to an hour and a half for their assessment. The assessment was scheduled at least three days in advance. All new clients complete consent, contact information and medical history forms online at least 24 hours ahead of their assessment. This gave the clinicians time to sit down and review all the intake information for about 20 to 30 minutes at least the day before the evaluation was scheduled. They had time to find missing information, formulate their questions and begin designing their assessment approach.
Through an introductory email which often followed a 10 to 15 minute ‘discovery call’ type of interaction, the new client was well aware that all the forms must be completed at least 24 hours in advance of the assessment. If this timeline was not possible, clients understood that 24 hours notice must be given to the practitioner and the session would be rescheduled.
When the assessment was rescheduled, the client would be charged at least 50%, but typically 100%, of the assessment fee. The client understood that this missed appointment was billable time lost by the practitioner that usually could not be quickly rebooked for another client’s care.
Harsh? Maybe. But an essential professional policy required to provide good service? Absolutely.
How are YOU showing up for your new clients before, during and after that all important first session? Do you have a step by step method that you are careful to follow every time you receive a new referral?
Your ‘know, like and trust’ factor begins with your very first interaction with a client. This could be you introducing yourself and providing an opportunity to work with you through a phone call, an email or even a direct message through an online platform of some kind. It could also be being copied on an email from another friend, client, family member or colleague.
Do you have a succinct ‘elevator pitch’ of 30 seconds or less to talk about you and your practice? Do you have a 10-second version of this that you can start with? Can you write a short paragraph/bio about yourself for a standard email, telling people who your favourite clients are and what transformation you provide for them when they work with you? These small steps are a good starting point when developing your own assessment protocol.
Then you’ll need a clear way of describing what your assessment looks like, how long it is and the cost. Ask your new referrals to do their homework in advance to find out if your sessions can be covered by their extended health benefits plan coverage. Encourage people to invest in their own health! (I know this isn’t an easy conversation - but it is an important one).
Make sure people clearly understand that their payment is due either before the session takes place or immediately at the end of your session in a way that works for you. Decide how your clients will pay you - credit card payment, cheque or e-transfer. Cash payments can be tricky. Will you carry change? Can you simply create a receipt?
Clients also will need to know how they will schedule and pay for follow-up sessions. Are you selling treatment sessions individually? Are you scheduling treatment sessions multiple times each week? Weekly? Biweekly? Will you invoice them once a month? Every other week? Require a monthly retainer for your anticipated sessions?
Write out all of this financial information, so you have something simple to refer to and also send to your clients. It will become your new set of company policies for every future new client. Keep in mind that clients are prepared to pay you for your expertise - especially if they get results right from the observations you make and some coaching you’ll do during your assessment session. If clients WANT to pay you - make it easy!
Remember that developing that ‘know, like and trust’ factor begins with your very first interaction with a new referral who can potentially become your newest client.
When you prepare your client well for their assessment, they will realize that this is the kind of organization and preparation they can expect from you moving forward. They will understand the level of support and guidance that you will likely provide for your follow-up treatment sessions because they just experienced such simple and easy to follow instructions for their assessment prep!
Help make meeting with you both easy and fun for your clients. They will thank you - and return for more! As you quickly deliver the transformation your clients talked about in their very first session with you, they will WANT to refer their family members and friends to you. Over the past 30 years of practice, this has always been my number one way of adding new clients to my schedule. I know it will work for you too.
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