Do you have certain clients that ALWAYS take longer than you expect?
In my first year of practice, I had several clients who were consistently in my office at least 20 minutes after their appointment had officially ended. One was a talker; I really did not know how to reign her in without seeming rude. Another tended to have very emotional visits; I felt guilty and hard-hearted for trying to hurry her out the door.
At first, I didn’t really mind.
I wasn’t busy. I didn’t have other clients scheduled immediately. I generally like my clients and enjoy spending time with them. “What’s the harm?” I thought.
It turns out that this wasn’t the best strategy. As my practice grew, I got busier (thankfully!). I DID have clients scheduled back-t0-back. Running a bit over could throw my schedule off for hours, in fact.
Letting clients linger for extended appointments also meant that I wasn’t practicing focused questioning or valuing my time – I certainly wasn’t charging extra when visits went longer than anticipated. Clients got used to spending that much time with me, and that’s what they expected the next time they scheduled an appointment.
I had to toughen up, set some boundaries and learn strategies to reign in consultations that were heading down the “overtime” path. I do believe that there are times when it’s important and worth it to take a bit longer with someone. However, you need to have the *option* of ending on time as well. It all boils down to having the skills to wrap the visit up, which allows you to make an informed choice to spend more time under certain circumstances.
Here are my top three strategies for ending a consultation on time (video):
Do you struggle with this as well? What strategies have you tried to keep clients focused and on track?