Treat Your Wellness Business Like a Patient… with SOAP!
Is your holistic healthcare business dirty or clean, messy or neat? We’re not talking about your housekeeping here. In other words, are your work space and all of your business practices organized and effective? Is your marketing systematized and scheduled? Is your schedule filled with Ideal Clients? Do your clients return for repeat business? Do you leverage your resources for maximum results? Is your income enough to support your business needs and your lifestyle?
If you answered “Yes” to all of these questions, read no further! But if your business is lacking or struggling in any of these areas, it’s time to clean it up – using SOAP!
One day many years ago, in the early stage of my massage career, while designing a new form for my treatment notes, I realized that the same system I used to assess my clients’ needs could be applied to the health of my struggling business! You may already know about this process.
Are you familiar with SOAP notes – a method of recording your patient’s condition, treatment and progress Not only is a system for documenting client treatments, it’s also a clever way to assess and treat your business needs: Treat your ailing business like a patient by applying the SOAP method to your business! Let’s look at this way of documenting patient care, and then we’ll “rinse and repeat” the same process for your business!
SOAP is an acronym – each letter in the title stands for a different element of the method. To start the assessment of your business challenges, get a sheet of paper and divide it into 4 sections. Write one of these words as a heading on each section: Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan. S – O – A – P!
Starting with the letter S, this section contains subjective information. This is the client/patient’s version of their pain, problem or challenge. It includes everything they tell you about their condition – how it started, when it started, how often it happens, what makes it better and worse. It’s their personal – or subjective – view of their situation.
If we correlate this part of the assessment with a stressed health practice, then the subjective information represented by the letter S would include problems in the business – everything that is not working well. Visualize your business as a patient and imagine a conversation between you and your business, like your interview with a new patient. What would it tell you about its health problems? What questions would you ask to elicit this information?
Here’s an example of the S, or Subjective, part of your evaluation. Write down your business challenges in the S section of your business SOAP notes. For example, a problem in your wellness practice could be: Not enough income. What improves it: More clients. What aggravates it: Clients don’t return.
As you can see, the SOAP Method is a simple way to get clarity on the challenges and solutions of your holistic practice!
Continuing with our SOAP notes theme, the letter O in the SOAP method stands for Objective. This includes all impartial, unbiased information relating to the patient’s condition: all measurable data and rating scales, such as the 0-10 Pain Scale; test results and reaction to treatments. It also includes the practitioner’s objective findings of the patient’s condition, based on commonly-accepted evaluation criteria, such as observation and palpation.
Applying this process to your business SOAP Notes, rate the “pain” of your practice using the analog 0-10 Pain Scale. What number is it – how badly does it hurt? If the pain is 0-3, you’re doing most things right – just keep doing what’s working, while exploring new opportunities for growth! If the pain is 4-7, change the treatment (try something else) or adjust the dosage (do more of what works and less of what doesn’t). If the pain is 8-10, it’s time for a major intervention!
Be sure to include things that improve your practice and what helps it thrive, as well as things that sabotage growth and keep your business in a poor or mediocre state. List all of these objective findings in the O section of your Soap Notes.
Now consider the A in the SOAP method of treating this patient – your wellness practice. The letter A represents Assessment. This is where a physician would make a diagnosis of the patient’s condition, based on the subjective and objective findings – the patient’s complaints integrated with hard data and measurable results. Since diagnosis is beyond my scope of practice as a massage therapist, this is where I record my impressions of what is going on with the client, as well as results of the massage – how the client reacts to treatment.
In the case of your unhealthy health care business, the Assessment portion of your business SOAP Notes might look like this: Unhealthy Money Mindset of limiting beliefs, low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence and fear of change; weak, painful marketing muscles from repetitive cycles of intense use and benign neglect; loss of financial strength from ineffective marketing; unproductive use of time due to disorganization and overwhelm; vertigo/loss of balance from erratic income; stunted growth due to improper marketing nutrition.
The final section of the SOAP Notes for this “patient” – your holistic health practice – is P for Plan, which contains your recommended treatment for this patient’s complaints and problems. This is where a medical doctor would prescribe a medication, refer to a specialist or recommend adjunct treatment, such as massage, physical therapy or acupuncture.
Ask questions like these: “What do I need to do to help the patient from where they are to where they want to be? What should I do for short-term improvement and what will help the patient achieve long-term goals?”
You recognize in treating a client that the healing process involves more than a few techniques for an hour or so. You explain to the client that their condition probably developed over time and it will take time to reverse it. You follow a protocol or system to help them heal over time.
Likewise, growing your practice involves more than a one-time quick fix or occasional shot in the arm! You need a strategic, ongoing process that you repeat on a regularly-scheduled basis – like taking a prescription medication every 4 hours. In our hypothetical case of your business as the patient, this would be equivalent to a dose of marketing for 2 hours per day or once a week for 5 hours, for example.
Treat your business the same way you treat a patient! Use the same process for your business that you do to evaluate and plan a client’s treatment. Again, the strategic problem-solving approach to treatment involves the four distinct steps of the SOAP Method:
Subjective + Objective + Assessment + Plan = S.O.A.P. – a process to help you create a Treatment Plan for your business with strategies that will ensure a steady supply of Ideal Clients and an abundant income for the business and lifestyle that you need, want and deserve!