Your winter run: Making the most of the slow season
January reminds you it's a new year with new possibilities. It just doesn't seem fair then that the time of New Year's resolution inspiration is also when the snow settles in, your appointment calendar empties out, and the phones stop ringing at your practice. It's downright disheartening. You're inspired to improve, but clients are focusing on their kids' school year after horse show season winds down, or maybe they're making their non-equine resolutions a top priority. Either way, all's quiet on the practice front.
Well, don't let that fire in your belly burn out in the cold winter months. You—and your team, if you have one—can clean up and reorganize in these quieter weeks. Learn how the cursed slow season can be a blessing.
Hawaii's nice this time of yearYou've worked hard all year. Now you have a chance to take a breather. Scheduling vacations (you do remember those, don't you?) should be at the top of your list. The slow times are the best opportunities for your team to take breaks, too. This may seem obvious, but I've seen practices where even the doctors request time off during the busiest season of the year.
If it doesn't already, use this time to make sure your employee handbook spells out your vacation policy: Everybody's entitled to a vacation each year, but only in dire circumstances can vacation time be taken during the busy season. And spell out when the busy season is. Your team members can then make it clear to their in-laws that scheduling a family reunion during breeding season will mean they can't attend.
For tips on updating your employee manual, read "Dust Off Your Employee Manual" in the June 2007 issue, or click on Related Links below.
Well, well, well
Do you have a wellness program at your practice? Consider it. A systematic focus on preventive care allows you to spread out your work over the year. Your clients probably don't know about your scheduling challenges, so they'll schedule a dental appointment during a week when you're putting in 12 hours a day every day. And they don't really know better—after all, that's when they've always scheduled them.
How does an organized wellness program help? It lets you decide when dental and other preventive care fits best. Instead of working crazy nonstop hours in the spring, you can move some of your less-urgent work to the slower fall months (and work 10-hour days with one day off in the spring—imagine!).
Wellness programs fulfill many needs, not least of which is caring for horses' health year-round. But these wellness programs are also a key way to even out your yearly schedule. Wellness programs aren't easy to implement, but now's the time to set one up.
Do some research, read back issues of journals, talk to colleagues. This won't solve all of your immediate problems, but next year at this point you'll be glad you took the time. After all, it's not like your phone's ringing.