How to Prepare Your Practice For Time Off

December 01, 2023

As we approach the holiday season, many practitioners will be planning to take some time off. If that’s you, you may wonder how to ensure things continue running seamlessly in your practice while you’re away! In order to set yourself and your clients up for success during this time, it’s important to prepare the backend of your practice, such as your calendar, availability, autoresponders, and more. The goal is to allow your practice to run smoothly while you’re off so you are actually able to take the time you need to recharge!

In this post, we’ll share some simple tools and strategies that will help you prepare for time off:

Plan Ahead

The first thing to mention is the importance of planning ahead for your time off. This will give you the lead-up time to set things up on the backend and inform your clients, as well as help you avoid the stressful pre-holiday rush of trying to prepare for time off. To help yourself plan ahead, consider putting a reminder in your calendar or creating a task for yourself in Practice Better for a certain amount of time prior to your time off. You could even include a “pre-time off” checklist for yourself to keep organized and ensure you don’t miss anything.

Inform Your Clients

An essential part of prepping for time off is letting your clients know. This will help you set expectations and allow your client to prepare for that period of time when you won’t be in communication.

There are a couple of different strategies that come into play when thinking about informing your clients:

  1. Outline time off communication boundaries and details in service agreements

    This will help ensure that there is no confusion or misunderstanding regarding periods of time off right off the bat. You could include details such as whether or not you are reachable during these periods and who the client can contact in your absence or in case of emergency.

  2. Send an automated message to all clients letting them know about upcoming time off

    You’ll also want to let clients know about your time off as you get closer to the date, but it’s important to consider how you can do this in a streamlined manner. In order to avoid having to let each client know individually and manually, set up an automated message to be sent out a certain amount of time before your departure date. In Practice Better, this can be done via the Broadcast Message feature. You can include details about when you’ll be back, any alternate contacts, as well as any relevant information on how they can stay accountable to your protocols and recommendations during this period.

  3. Set up an out-of-office notification or autoresponder

    Even if you’ve let your clients know about your time off ahead of time, it’s still important to have a plan in place in case they do try to contact you. Consider which channels of communication you typically use with clients, and set up some sort of out-of-office notification or autoresponder. You can include details about when you’ll be back and who they could contact in the meantime if it’s urgent. This will allow you to feel at peace knowing your clients have the information they need if they do try to reach you, and will thus help you feel comfortable and confident going offline.

Update Your Calendar & Availability

To mitigate any scheduling conflicts, ensure your calendar and service availability are set up to reflect your time off. To achieve this, you could block off those days as busy or create a personal event in your Practice Better calendar.

This could also be a good time to double-check that your booking system is properly integrated with your external calendar. These calendars will speak to each other, and any personal events in your external calendar will block time from being booked during typically available hours.

If you are taking a longer period of time off or even recurring blocks of time off, consider updating your service availability settings in Practice Better for that period to be extra sure that no services can be booked during those times.

Prepare Your To-Do List

To set yourself up for success with time off, prepare a to-do list for the time before you leave and for when you return. It’ll help you stay organized and hit the ground running when you get back, give you peace of mind while you’re off, and allow you to rest and recharge properly. No one wants to return from time off feeling chaotic and stressed! Consider setting reminders for tasks upon your return and any necessary follow-up with clients.

As we’ve shared, these simple strategies will help you successfully prepare and get organized before your time off. Doing so allows you to feel comfortable and confident taking that time off without having your mind on your business – which is essential to showing up as the best version of yourself!

Add Your Time Off to Practice Better

Practice Better has a variety of features that will allow you to successfully prepare your practice for time off!

As we mentioned earlier, having a process to remind yourself of what needs to be done before vacation is key. Use the Tasks feature in Practice Better to remind yourself what needs to be done before and after your time off. You could consider creating one task with a “time-off prep checklist” and another for your return with a “post-time-off to-do list.”

As a way to notify clients when you are out of the office, use Practice Better’s Out-of-Office notification feature. This displays as a banner at the top of your client’s portal during your time off and allows you to include an optional message where you could share details on your return date as well as any alternate or emergency contacts. As a bonus, the Out-of-Office notification feature will automatically block those dates off in your service availability, ensuring that no sessions can be booked on those dates.

Having a plan if clients try to contact you is also important to give you peace of mind while you’re off. You can implement this in Practice Better by setting up an autoresponder, which will automatically be sent to any clients who contact you one-on-one via the secure chat during your time off. This is also a great place to include alternate contact information and details about when they can expect to hear back from you.

In order to ensure that no sessions get booked during your time off period, you’ll want to update your calendar settings. You can consider creating a personal event in your Practice Better calendar or integrating it with Google Calendar if you have time blocked off there. Both options will block off this unavailable time in your Practice Better calendar and prevent any bookings from coming through for those dates. For longer stretches or even recurring periods of time off, you can update your service availability to reflect your current and upcoming schedule.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on October 14, 2021 and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for nutritionists, dietitians, and wellness professionals. Streamline your practice and begin your 14-day free trial today.

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