The more I speak to practitioners, the more I’ve come to believe visit/treatment length tends to be a legacy issue. It’s not something we’re giving a lot of conscious thought to. You open your doors and do what you did in school, or copy another practice, and it pretty much stays that way. Most consultative practices have 2-3 different menu options, based on time. And they never change.

My sense is that sometimes those visits are too long – or that a shorter option should be put on the table. Here’s why.

1. Maybe Your Clients Don’t WANT Longer
Many of us are working from a simple premise that more time is better. Says who?

Perhaps it’s true to some extent, but who’s to say a client really wants a two hour initial appointment? Or a 90-minute massage? Either of those is enough to scare me off. Is it possible your clients don’t want what you think they do? Do your clients really need more time, or is it just better time they’re after?

“…for many clients, a 90 minute massage is not as appealing as it once was.”
-Irene Diamond, RT writing at Massage Today

2. Every Client is Different
Just because one talkative client can never get out of your office in under 60 minutes doesn’t mean everyone should have to stay that long. Why treat everyone the same? Are you building your visits around the slowest common denominator?

3. You Can Earn More
When we started offering a 15-minute acute care visit, we didn’t price it at half the price of a 30-minute visit–nor should you. It’s priced about 55-60% of the price of a half hour. That means that an hour made up of four 15-minute visits is worth more than a single hour treatment. Over time, the difference stacks up.

4. You Can Help More
Shorter visits simply mean you can see more clients in the same time period. It’s that simple.

5. More Flexible Scheduling
It can be a challenge to master the tetris-like game of fitting together appointments to make the best use of your time.

There’s nothing more frustrating that a week full of small gaps that add up to a lot of time in total, but that can’t be properly used because individually they aren’t long enough to fit someone into. Shorter visits give you more flexibility for filling those inevitable gaps.

6. You’re Better Than You Were
Let’s face it: when you started practice you were just beginning to master your craft. You simply didn’t have the…well, the practice. It makes sense that for many types of care, you can simply do more in less time once you’ve got some experience under your belt. You teach, explain, diagnose, set up, clean up, treat and process faster than you once could. Why not take advantage of that expertise?

Are your visits too long? Maybe, maybe not. Certainly, more time can be a selling feature, and some modalities simply require some minimum amount of time. But it might be worth asking yourself the following questions:

  • Why are my appointments the length they are?
  • What would be gained and/or lost if I shortened them?
  • What would happen if I added a new, shorter option?

In the end, clients and patients are like Goldilocks. They need a visit length that’s just right. How close are you?

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3 Responses to “6 Good Reasons to Offer Shorter Appointment Times”

  1. Good post.

    Session lengths are some of the variables that smart business owners (therapists) need to consider. As I mentioned in my Top 10 Predictions for 2012, in WIBB Massage Today article, not many people can afford the cost and the time for a 90 minute session.

    Look at ways you can provide the best service to the people you work with.

  2. I love this! A colleague of mine only offers 2 hour sessions. I have never understood why. I would love a massage from her, but 1) don’t have the money for that and 2) don’t have the time for that. In addition, I start getting ancy if I’m on the table much more than 60 minutes.

    Thanks!

  3. Jimmy Winkle says:

    As a therapist I offer 30 min all the way up to 90. I used to offer 2 hour sessions but after 3 yrs out of school (which i know isn’t a long time), I realized I could due what needed to be done in 90 at the longest. I felt like I was cheating them and myself filling the extra 30 min with fluff, so I stopped offering it. So for me no more than 90.

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