We’ve all been there at some point. We’ve found some busy work to do while we’re at the clinic and we’re jamming our way through it. We don’t want to do it - we’d rather be treating patients. After all, that’s what we went to school for. But no one is coming in the doors. Either the business owner isn’t marketing right or we’re not doing everything we could - whatever it is, no bodies are on our treatment tables. Then the whining starts. “They never taught us marketing in school. That class was crap. I should go back the school and complain about how unprepared for the workplace I am.” And you do your busy work, you mope, and go home.
For me that is Thursdays. Thursday afternoons are a weird shift - people are working and don’t want to come in and get acupuncture. I would sit in my office and work on the marketing ideas the doctor and I came up with to get people coming to see me while mulling over the actual numbers they were bringing in. Then I had my moment of clarity and I asked myself:
"Since I know what is wrong, what can I do to fix it?"
That was a month ago and I wanted to share some of the tools and tricks that I’ve used over the past month to overcome the depression and disappointment in myself that was holding me back from succeeding. In that month I've seen an improvement in my attitude, but also an improvement with patient interactions. I'm more comfortable talking to them as a business person and a professional. This means that more people are considering acupuncture after coming to my presentations. I'm spending a more appropriate time marketing and developing my practice than I was before word of my practice is getting out there. The best part? All of the changes I made are not only useful, they are free!
EDx’s ’Introduction to Marketing’ class
The first thing I asked myself is “How do I fix not knowing how to market?” The obvious (if snarky) answer is “Learn how to market.” I had heard about EDx while I was still in school but didn’t have enough time to check it out. EDx provides many free or low cost options for all types of subjects including math, computer science, programming, anatomy and of course, business. So I headed on over to the site and searched for marketing classes and came across this 'Introduction to Marketing' class by the University of British Columbia: I’m halfway through the course now and it’s changed how I think about marketing.
I used to think marketing was selling: brochures, business cards, discounts, etc. But the class started talking about the big picture of the economy, politics, social issues and narrowing things down and down and down until you knew what segment of the market you wanted to go after. It helped me rethink my Practice Plan and how I want to approach finding customers through the chiropractic clinic.
For instance, working through their section on Marketing Analysis helped me draw a very clear picture about my performance at the clinic. I was able to plot my growth since starting there six months ago (quadrupled the patient numbers!!!) and form a plan based on the 10 most common complaints over the past 6 years to focus my market strategy. Having a plan helps with my anxiety about performance and gives me something to work on during my:
40 Hour work week
While I was going through school I was in class and internships about 30 hours a week, the massage clinic 18 hours a week and my own practice 12 hours a week. When I graduated I was so burned out from four and a half straight years of 50-60 hour work weeks I slacked off for a full year. I see where that time was incredibly healing because now I’m motivated to work on the things that need to be done but I also see the negative impact that it’s had on my practice. I started tracking my time with Timesheet for Android with the goal of having a 40 hour work week. Not only does this keep me focused during the day but it’s added predictability to my work. I’m starting to settle into a routine for research, network development, practice marketing and all of the little piddly things that need to be done outside of the clinic setting. It’s an excellent way of holding myself accountable to do the things that need to get done.
Figuring out my wage
I work two commission only jobs. This means that I only get paid for the massage or acupuncture I do and everything else in unpaid. I know how much I want to make in a year and I know how much that divides out if I were to work 50 weeks a year and 40 hours a week. But goal numbers don’t help at all if I don’t know where I am now.
I started tracking how much I made in commissions each week and divided it by the 40 hours I was working. Knowing these numbers gives me a place to start and since figuring where the bulk of my money is coming from I can work on strategies to maximize that. I can also work on strategies to improve my income streams from the sources that aren't doing so well, or I can make an informed decision to go a different direction altogether.
Talking it out
One of the best things I did was started meeting with other business owners or practitioners and hearing their stories. Because we really have all been there. I sat down with my acupuncturist friend and we talked about how hard it was to get patients to come in a follow a full treatment course. I sat down with a massage therapist friend and we talked about how hard it was to market through networking, even though that’s supposed to be the end-all-be-all. This morning I had coffee with someone who is frustrated as an independent contractor because she’s not getting the kind of referrals she was promised when she signed the contract. If you manage a practice and have questions find other people who have practices too.
The nice part about doing this is that it also helps build your confidence because you do know something about building and maintaining a practice or you wouldn’t have even started it to begin with. And you’ll always know something the other person doesn’t - a tool, an idea or even another person that could be an asset to them. We need to build each other up as a healing community so we can all thrive. Successful small business competition isn't a war, it's a sport. To make it, we all have to be able to shake hands amicably at the end of the game and go out for a beer.
The Being Boss Podcast
One of the benefits of sharing tools that are helping you with others who are in a similar boat is they share their tools with you. I was telling one of my friends about how awesome the EDx Marketing class was and she sent me a list of podcasts one of our friends listens to. Being Boss is meant for creative entrepreneurs like artists, writers and web designers but so much of the artistic community can be mapped onto the healing community. I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been binge listening to them for a couple of weeks now, completely nerding out and taking notes. But you can’t just listen - you have to do.
I signed up for their newsletter, I made a goal setting whiteboard, I made a networking spreadsheet, I developed a routine based off of when I’m in the right mindset to work on certain things each day. I just starting *doing* regardless of the fact that when there were saying really wasn’t 100% meant for what I do. I’m almost to the thirtieth episode and let me tell you, these ladies have completely changed the way I think about my practice.
Because of them I've been introduced to other entrepreneur and solopreneur resources that have also been rocking my world. The way I think about how I work and what I want to do with my practice and my business has dramatically shifted and as I grow more optimistic my practice is growing along with me.
Attitude is everything
These five things have changed my attitude towards my practice in the past month and let me tell you - attitude is everything. I’m motivated when I get to the clinic now. I want to work with people, share what I know and help them along their healing journey. But I also want to learn what brought them in and how I could apply that to the hundreds or thousands of potential customers out there. It’s rebuilt the confidence that a year of neglect destroyed. All it took was getting real with myself.
How to suss out your true passions and make your practice thrive
Follow The Reverie Alone on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook!
Can you identify a moment or a tool that completely changed your practice?
Ms Jess G
Just trying to live my dream as best I can and sharing my triumphs and bumps along the way
Like The Reverie Alone but want daily updates? Like my Facebook Page!