The holidays are in full swing, and you may be struggling to decide what your clinics’ holiday hours should be. You may be asking yourself questions like: Should I stay open on Christmas or New Year’s Day? Will there be enough volume to justify the cost? Will staffing be an issue?
To help guide your thinking and answer these questions, check out our recommendations below. These steps will help you make a smart decision for establishing your 2016 holiday hours.
Step 1: Analyze the Trends
Take some time to review your data and analyze the trends. What does history tell you? With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day all falling on a Saturday or Sunday this year, does this help or hinder you? Is your clinic typically busy on weekends? If the answer is no, then there’s no reason the holidays will be any different. However, if the answer is yes, consider staying open and potentially shortening your hours (be open from noon to 4 p.m.) to help with any staffing issues you foresee.
Step 2: Investigate the Competition
It’s important to be aware of what your competition is doing in terms of holiday hours. Is the emergency room the only other option available to the public? Are there other urgent care clinics in your area? If you are the only alternative to the ER, this is a great indication to be open over the holidays. If you’re in a metro area with an ER and other urgent care clinics, investigate and see what the other clinics are doing. Would it be beneficial to stay open (even if others are) and ramp up your marketing efforts? Would it be more worthwhile to close and give your staff a break knowing you’ll be competing with other clinics for the holiday traffic anyway? Let your competition help you in this decision, but don’t feel forced into anything – they don’t always know what they’re doing either.
Step 3: Forecast Public and Patient Perception
What will the public and your patients think if you stay open or close on these special days of the year? If you are open, will they appreciate it? Will they be aware of your holiday hours? If you close, will they question why? Either way, make sure you treat the announcement carefully. If you are open, publicize and capitalize on it. Get patients through the door! If you decide to close, communicate that to the public and how your staff deserves the time off as well. Either way, be transparent about your ultimate decision.
Like other decisions you make for your urgent care clinic, this one requires thought and contemplation. Your clinic’s holiday hours not only affect you, but also they affect your staff, your patients, and your family at home. If you have any insight on establishing holiday hours, head over to our Facebook page and join the conversation.
Watch for our next holiday blog about scheduling clinic staff over the holidays.