A Simple 3-Step Process for Avoiding Practitioner Burnout & Attracting Long-Term Clients

Practitioner-Burnout-feat-img

Written by Joanna Sapir

Do you have a health and wellness career that you love, but you are in a constant state of practitioner burnout?

Are you overworking and feeling trapped, operating from a space where fear is constantly present and practitioner burnout is just around the corner?

Some days the burden may feel overwhelming and make you wonder:

“How can I do the job I love without constantly worrying about finding the next client and making my monthly numbers?”

I have an alternative path for you. A path that avoids practitioner burnout and brings the joy back into your business.

How?

You remodel your business.

Just like you would remodel a kitchen that was somewhat functional but frustrating and exhausting to cook in.

You change the layout, shape, flow, look and feel, and maybe even the size to make it into your dream kitchen.

You can do that with your business too. Turn it into something that energizes you rather than drains you. Something that you can fall in love with again.

Create a business model that provides a more consistent and sustainable revenue.

Free up your time and emotional energy to focus on the health and well-being of your clients.

My 3-step process replaces overworking and practitioner burnout with:

  • scheduling automation,
  • repeating clients, and
  • more consistent and sustainable revenue.

Let’s dive in.

Are You A Victim Of Your Own Success?

A wellness practitioner works on a patient
Many health and wellness practitioners are working too hard.

They’re caught in a constant cycle of trying to turn current clients into repeat customers.

Are you experiencing this in your own health and wellness business?

  • You long for an ideal work schedule, but are constantly overworking and in a continual state of hustle
  • You feel trapped, weighed down with the burden of finding new clients and convincing current clients to book more appointments.
  • Your worth becomes based on giving to others. This adds a heightened sense of urgency to finding clients to help, as you need this to maintain your sense of value.

This constant stress takes its toll: studies have proven the negative effects of stress on nervous system regulation, including decreases in cognitive function, mood, heart function, and more.

Chris’s Story

Chris, a bodyworker specializing in structural integration, felt trapped by his business and his clients.

“My business was zapping my energy. . .
I was bleeding energy. It was chaotic. My clients controlled me.
They defined everything about me. I was stressed out and I didn’t know why. My family suffered, my relationship suffered.”

He felt like his clients “controlled” him.

Unfortunately, Christ hadn’t created clear boundaries in his business.

 

This lack of boundaries led to 5 major issues:

🚫 Always being available to clients

Chris’s personal phone was his business phone.

Clients would text him at any hour of the day on any day of the week, in pain, seeking an appointment or advice.

And Chris felt it was his duty to respond quickly and get them in immediately – regardless of whether the timing was good for him.

🚫 Letting new leads dictate his schedule

New leads would call, text, or email, and he’d bend over backward to get them in right away so he wouldn’t lose the sale.

🚫 An unorganized marketing plan

Clients would cancel sessions, often at the last minute.

Chris was left twiddling his thumbs, wondering how to use that time for doing the marketing he wasn’t doing consistently. Should he write a blog post? Record a YouTube video? Send an email blast?

🚫 Clients unclear what he offered

Some clients would try and tell him what to do during sessions, which really frustrated him.

They treated him as if he were a massage therapist there to provide relaxation massage or whatever they wanted that day.

But that isn’t who he is.

He’s a skilled, evidence-based bodyworker, and some of these clients just didn’t get it. They didn’t understand the part he had to play in their physical health.

🚫 Chasing payments

Without an automatic payment system, Chris had to collect each payment manually at the end of each session. This method causes many problems:

    • The practitioner can’t focus on their healing work for the full session. They have to end it early to collect payment and try to sell/book another session.
    • The practitioner’s discomfort with the impending payment/selling process can affect their emotional energy.
    • If time runs short, the practitioner won’t have time to collect payment or rebook. This puts them in the position of having to chase down payments and rebookings.
    • Inevitably situations can arise when patients forget to bring payment, which again leaves the practitioner chasing down payments.

Chris came to me desperate to find a way to balance his business with his personal life. He didn’t know how to attract and maintain a profitable customer base without sacrificing his personal life by being on call 24/7.

 

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you may relate to some degree.

And I’m here to tell you that it IS possible to stop the constant need to be on call, create boundaries and balance with your personal life, and maintain (or even increase) your income.

I explained to Chris that the solution to his dilemma could be found by following my simple 3-step process:

Step 1: Define Your Boundaries

Wire and wooden fence illustrating a boundary to help practitioner burnout

ALL of the issues Chris was experiencing (cancellations, chasing payments, demanding clients) were symptoms of a lack of boundaries.

Chris needed to

  1. create boundaries in his business,
  2. communicate them clearly and effectively to his clients, and
  3. set up automations for as many communications and business processes as possible (basically any process that didn’t require a personal touch).

When you define boundaries in your business, and create automations and systems to enforce those boundaries, you are making things easier, smoother, and more effective for everyone involved: you, your clients, your leads, your collaborators, your team — everyone!

The benefits of setting boundaries are endless.

I like to tell my clients to picture the guard rails at the bowling alley. They’re usually for little kids, who often don’t have the strength, skill, or experience to keep the ball in the lane and hit the pins. These guard rails keep the ball from going into the gutter and help it get to the end of the lane to score points.

Think of your boundaries as guard rails for you, your business, and your clients. They help everyone score more points and win.

Examples of boundaries you may need to create, redesign, or make clearer include:

  • Business hours
  • Client session availability
  • Cancellation or rescheduling options and consequences
  • Pricing and payment terms
  • Communication (when you’re available and what you’ll provide)
  • Terms and conditions of your service (what you’ll provide and what you won’t)

As the owner and leader of your business, you get to decide all of these things – not anyone else.

After you define your boundaries, you need to clearly communicate them to your clients and leads.

Take a look at the list above and ask yourself these questions:

  • Which ones have you clearly defined already, and which ones still need to be specified?
  • Which of these are already being communicated well to your clients and leads, and which are not?

Once you answer these questions, you are ready to move to step two.

Step 2. Automate Your Calendar and Scheduling Process

Automated online calendar to help wellness practitioners deal with burnout

The first place to make changes is in your scheduling process. This step is life-changing!

Your business will stop feeling like a ball and chain weighing you down, and you will regain control of your life again – I promise!

Create your ideal work schedule to understand the goal you’re aiming for.

First, create your ideal schedule based on how you want to live your daily life. Don’t base this on what anyone else says you “should” do.

✅ What days do you want to work? What hours do you want to work? Take some time to really think about this and decide on your dream schedule.

✅ Include all of the personal time, self-care time, and relationship time that you need.

✅ D0 you want to pick your kids up from school and spend the afternoon with them on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons?

✅ Perhaps you want to swim laps every Friday morning.

✅ or choose that you only want to see clients in the afternoon.

✅ YOU decide which days of the week your business is open and what its specific hours are.

Tip: Don’t forget to account for business management in your new schedule.

One mistake many people make is forgetting to account for business management when setting their business hours.

You may find this surprising, but only about 50% of your business hours should be used for client sessions. The rest of the time, you’ll need to work on the other areas of your business:

  • financial management
  • marketing and sales, administration, and
  • leadership (yes, even if it’s just you, you are the leader of your business!).

Automate your calendar to take scheduling off your plate.

Next, it’s time to automate your calendar. If you have an automated scheduler with your all-in-one practice management software, you can get started.

If you don’t already have scheduling management software, getting one is easy.

For in-person practitioners, I usually recommend Acuity. It’s more expensive but has a lot of additional useful features, including integration with a payment gateway.

If you’re an online practitioner or don’t need the additional features, then I recommend Calendly. Both calendar management systems are good. It just depends on your needs.

Set up your automated scheduler to allow clients to make appointments. And remember, ONLY set up the time blocks you have designated for client sessions. 

 

Wellness practitioner writing down her daily schedule on a calendar to avoid practitioner burnout

Your goal is to make your availability for client sessions crystal clear, for them and for you! Your clients will now see when you’re available and choose one of those spots.

If clients make special requests (they will, trust me!), you must hold firm to your schedule and resist the urge to squeeze someone in when you should be off doing other things. Of course, there will be times when someone has an urgent need, and you can still respond to those needs if you feel it is warranted. But this should be the exception, not the rule.

Remember, you are building habits. Once your clients know how to schedule their own appointments, they will get in the habit of doing it themselves every time.

Imagine the freedom this will create for you: no more back-and-forth exchanges with clients via text or email trying to schedule a session. From now on, simply send them your scheduling automation link, and that’s it – no more manual scheduling!

Calendar automation helps you reclaim your personal cell phone—and your personal life!

Calendar automation allows you to stop using your personal mobile phone for your business.

If you communicate with clients on your personal cell phone, chances are you are constantly on call and feel trapped by your business. If you want to stop bleeding energy, avoid practitioner burnout, and take back control of your business, then your personal phone should not be available to your leads or clients.

Once you set up your calendar automation, you have taken the first step towards cutting the ties between your personal cell number and your business.

If you have current clients who are used to texting or calling you, send out an announcement that you have switched to automated scheduling. Focus on the customer benefits of the new system, including:

  • They can now schedule, change, and cancel appointments 24/7.
  • They can see all available appointment slots and choose the one that best fits their schedule.

Consider automated communications to create more defined boundaries around your business.

Some scheduling management systems also automate patient communication. Instead of receiving texts and calls at all hours, you can set up an auto-response to patient inquiries thanking them for their message and promising that you will get back to them during business hours.

 


Want seven more ways to automate your wellness practice?
Check out the podcast episode: 7 Things to Automate in Your Wellness Business


Step 3. Stop Selling Sessions And Start Creating Programs and Treatment Plans

A wellness practitioner outlining her program to her patient.

The third – and most important – change Chris needed to make was how he packaged and offered his services to potential clients.

Do you currently charge for your services in packages of time? Maybe you sell one session for $X and then offer packs of sessions at a discounted rate. This is the most common packaging and pricing model in the health and wellness industry. But the unfortunate truth is that it leads to practitioner burnout.

What if I told you that there was a different way to provide your services, one that’s better for your clients and your business?

A way that…

  • Serves your clients more deeply and helps them get profoundly better results.
  • Builds a stronger relationship with your clients.
  • Creates a predictable monthly revenue in your business.
  • Provides you, the practitioner, with a deep sense of fulfillment that you are truly living your purpose.

You win all around with this change. Let’s talk about how you can accomplish it.

Find the Right People

Puzzle pieces fitting together illustrating how wellness practitioners can find the perfect fit clients for their work.

The first shift to make is something I call finding your “bullseye clients.”

Imagine your favorite clients: the ones that get the best results from your services, the ones that you love working with, and who come back again and again because they know and appreciate your service. Those are your bullseye clients.

Your goal is to fill your practice with these clients and to create the business systems that attract and serve them.

And, to say no to the people that are not your bullseye clients.

When it comes to identifying the bullseye of your target market, you’re going to have to explicitly leave some people out. That’s where you might feel some resistance. You may think, but I want to help everyone who needs me!

But here’s the deal:

When a practitioner works with anyone that shows up and doesn’t do any filtering to make sure that this is a good fit, they can easily burn out.

I call this the Freelancer Trap.

The Freelancer Trap allows your business to control you instead of you controlling your business.

When you accept any client that wants your work and will pay, you essentially give up your leadership as a skilled practitioner.

When you’re in the Freelancer Trap, you think your job is to make your client happy, rather than to lead them through your process for healing or achieving the change they seek.

The client is simply paying you for your skill set to complete the work they want and need. They’re not coming to you for your guidance or your leadership, which is what you want to happen.

And when you let them lead, you end up with those challenging clients that take advantage of you. They take a disproportionate amount of your time and energy, flake and cancel at the last minute, and say they’re coming back for the next session but never do.

And guess what? Those are the clients who are always complaining and never seem to experience any progress.

Sure, you’re getting clients and getting paid. But shaping yourself to fit their needs and demands is not a profitable, sustainable, joyful strategy.

Focusing on your bullseye clients lets you work with people you love working with.

These people are fully on board with your process. They fire you up, and you’re excited to help because they have the pains and problems that you know how to solve easily. They have the goals and desires that you know exactly how to help them achieve.

When you’re clear about who the bullseye of your target market is, you can design your entire business – from your programs to your sales process to your marketing – around attracting those people and helping them achieve their goals.

You’re no longer simply an acupuncturist or massage therapist or nutrition coach. You become the person that helps these specific people solve specific problems and achieve specific goals.

When you make this shift, you become easily referrable because you become known for who you help and the problems you solve.

Shift From Session-To-Session To Treatment Programs

The problem with the session-by-session treatment model

In the session-by-session sales model, each new client comes in with their problem with the hope that you’ll be able to fix it in that one session.

This puts you in a mode of doing whatever you can to relieve their pain or problem right then, which often means you don’t get to address the root cause of their issue.

So if and when the client returns, they often have the exact same pain or problem. And then when they don’t meet their long-term goals with your service, they feel like it’s just not working. They don’t see what you’re doing as life-changing or transformational, so they don’t continue.

This entire process leaves you stuck in a never-ending cycle of trying to book more sessions to make more money.

Every now and then, you get that right person who comes along and keeps booking sessions and is getting results, but the vast majority don’t.

 

A statue with body meridian lines that a practitioner would use in their practice

The goal-focused treatment solution

I want you to pause for a moment and think of a time when you needed treatment for a health issue.

You contacted the practitioner and they sold you their time: a single session, or perhaps a pack of sessions.

But what did you have in mind when you contacted them? It wasn’t “Hey I want to get a session.” You were thinking, “I want to achieve this goal for my body or my health.”

And you wanted to invest in a plan to achieve your goal.

Now imagine how you would feel if your wellness practitioner sat down with you to discuss your goals. A deep conversation about who you are and what you want.

And then, based on their specific expertise and experience, they give you their recommendation for what your treatment and care plan should be in order to meet your long-term goals.

I call this consultative selling, or consultative sales.

Wouldn’t that be amazing?

But what if, instead, they asked you what you want to do? They left it to you to decide when to come in, how frequently, and for how long.

During a treatment session, they asked you if you wanted them to work on one specific body part or another rather than assessing what’s going on and deciding themselves what the best course of action was.

And you left each session not sure if it helped, or if you wanted to return.

Goal-focused treatment plans end practitioner burnout and empower you to become the leader you already are.

Your bullseye clients are the clients who see you as the expert. They feel supported to have this wellness practitioner in their corner as part of their team, helping them achieve their desired result.

These clients understand the benefit of making a clear commitment to their health or wellness goal.

What I’m proposing to you today is that you don’t ask your prospective clients what they want. Instead, you assess their situation as the expert that you are and determine what they actually need to get the results they’re seeking.

You won’t sell sessions or packages of time. Instead, you’ll design the journey your bullseye client needs to get from where they are right now to their goal. Then, offer it as a program to your clients.

This is an opportunity for you to create your dream service for your bullseye clients. How can you design your services to provide the best results possible for your clients?

Designing your dream services is one of the key things we do in the Business (R)Evolution Academy.

Happy practitioner shaking the hand of one of their long-term-clients.

I have never, ever had a practitioner say that their clients will get the best results in only one session.

Instead, they create and believe in a longer-term approach.

It may be six weeks long or six months long. Some programs have weekly sessions, some meet twice a month, and some meet once a month. Sometimes the frequency changes over the course of a single program.

In your new service program, your leadership and knowledge help your clients reach their goals. And practitioners who help their clients get the best results feel more fulfilled by their work. It’s a win-win.

Get off the hamster wheel of constantly needing new clients.

There is another huge benefit to this business model, and that is how financially beneficial it is for your business.

Think about this:

In the old business model, the client books a session. They come in for the session and pay you when it’s done. You hope they rebook, but even if they do, they might cancel, and then you don’t get paid.

In that old model, you might have a bunch of sessions booked out for the month ahead of you, but none of them are guaranteed to happen. And you generally only get paid if the client comes in.

Ultimately, that model is a hamster wheel, where you’re always trying to get new or returning clients to book sessions.

The Business Revolution goal-focused model provides a pathway to financial freedom.

Imagine your business with these four transformations:

1. Your consultative process helps you feel like a partner and not a salesperson

With a goal-focused treatment plan, you stop selling sessions and start enrolling clients in the program or package they need.

You now have a client that is committed upfront to long-term services. Whether that’s six weeks or six months they are committed to whatever program you have recommended for them to achieve their goal.

And by learning a true, consultative sales process, you don’t have to feel like a salesperson in every session.

2. You have a predictable monthly income

Now, you actually have a predictable monthly income! And not only that, but you set up the payment terms.

The client has either paid in full upfront for the whole program at the time of the consultation (which is when you enroll them), or you set up a payment plan where they’re automatically charged monthly.

You don’t have to use any session time for collecting payment, the money is automatically dropped into your account each month without you doing anything but setting it up when you enroll them.

3. Rebooking issues disappear

Rebooking issues disappear, and automated payment plans create accountability to show up.

4. Client relationships are stronger

With my goal-focused model, your client sees you as an expert helping them reach their goal. They trust you and are grateful for your expertise.

 

I want you to imagine all of that. Just imagine how different it is energetically, when you’re working with someone that has already committed to the journey.

You don’t have to wow them each session hoping they come back, and ride the roller coaster of canceled sessions and constant worry.

You don’t have to take any time collecting payment, and cash flow improves.

It’s just you and your client doing the work together to help them reach their goals, which they have fully committed to doing. That gives you, the practitioner, an incredible sense of fulfillment and joy that you are doing the work you were really meant to do.

Goodbye Practitioner Burnout, Hello Ideal Work Schedule!

A reiki practitioner helping a client in a session

So how did this new business model work out for Chris?

It has been transformational.

After going through my Business (R)Evolution Program, his business is flourishing.

✅ He works his ideal schedule and fills his appointments with committed clients who look to him for leadership and appreciate his skills.

✅ He no longer feels the pressure during each appointment to focus on short-term results to sell the next appointment. He can focus his treatment on achieving the patient’s long-term goal.

✅ His cash flow is stronger, and he no longer has the constant stress and worry of filling his schedule on a week-by-week and day-by-day basis.

✅ He finds his job more fulfilling than ever. And he is not the only practitioner that has experienced this transformation – I have a page full of success stories from clients from clients who have implemented my Business Revolution Program.

Could This Be You?

Are you excited at the thought of transforming your business?

I hope it excites you. Because this is actually revolutionary. That’s why we call it the Business Revolution.

In this program I show you how to create a business where you lead your clients on a journey that is specifically and carefully designed to help them truly get results.

You are in the driver’s seat, leading your clients down the path to achieving their goals.

 


Join Me For My FREE Practitioner Business Roundtable

Practitioners Business Roundtable monthly event

I’m sure your brain is probably brimming with questions as you take all of this information in, and I’d love to answer them for you!

Come and join me at the next Practitioners’ Business Roundtable. At this free monthly event, you can get coaching and answers to questions about your business.

I answer any questions you might have — about this topic, or anything else you may be wondering.

Sign up here to reserve your seat.

After you register for a spot, we’ll send you an email with a link to our questions submission page. You can ask anything you want to or simply show up live and ask your questions at the meeting.

I’ve helped so many practitioners implement this revolutionary program in their businesses, and the results are just amazing:

  • higher income
  • steady income
  • better client results
  • better quality clients, and
  • a great sense of purpose and joy in your work.

I look forward to helping you transform your business, your life, and the lives of your clients.

Get the FREE Download:

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…which of these nine ingredients do you need to get high quality
long-term clients & steady, predictable income?

Joanna Sapir is a business strategist and coach helping innovative wellness practitioners and coaches build more profitable and sustainable businesses. She's on a mission to build a movement of people creating a new vision and reality for our future as humans on earth.

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→ Book a free consult today.

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