All right. I’m glad to be back on the AAC to the point webinar, giving you practice management tips and advice. My name’s Lauren Brown and I’m a doctor of traditional Chinese [inaudible 00:01:06] CPA. I practice in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, at Accu Balance Walden’s Center, and I’m the founder of Healthy Seminars. Today I have a guest with us. His name is Jeffrey Grossman. He is an acupuncturist and is the founder of Acupuncture Media Works and AcuPerfect websites. So we gel well because we’re both acupuncturists with an entrepreneurial spirit. He’s been doing this since 2002. He’s been creating, sharing patient education materials, marketing tools, practice building materials and websites for the acupuncture profession. What I love about Jeffrey is that he understands that many practitioners think that marketing and sales and we’re going to talk about this today and something they just really don’t enjoy doing. However, it’s necessary because if you don’t sell yourself, who will?
His goal is to make the business of building a healthy, successful practice, fun and easy, and in a way that feels genuine and stress free. So with integrity, it is his passion to help practitioners grow their practice so that they can help more people spread the message of both the powerful health benefits of acupuncture and change the world. So we share that value that the world needs more prosperous acupuncturists to help end the suffering in the world. So let’s bring on Jeffrey Grossman. And we decided that we’re going to talk about the three strategies that he likes to grow your practice, both in slow times, they’ll basically in time. So Jeffrey, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me on, Lauren. I really appreciate it. I enjoy doing these types of talks or interviews or trainings or whatever you call them with you. Because you said, we do share a similar passion and without people like us and others in the world, and helping motivate and support the profession in their business and their marketing skills. The profession I feel will struggle a little bit because we’re not bred to be business people. We are bred to be healers, right? It may have taken us many different [inaudible 00:03:05] to become the practitioner that we are today. But being an acupuncturist you also have to be a businessperson and you are by that an entrepreneur and you’ve got to wear multiple hats. That’s and one of those hats, as you know you mentioned, it’s business and marketing. That’s what we’re here to talk about today. A couple of strategies that can help build your practice in slow times or pretty much anytime.
All right, well let’s talk about this because we know there’s a yin yang relationship to help when yin yang separate or there’s a disharmony, we get disease where we die. And the same thing with our practice. If you only focus on clinical, we’re not saying not focus on clinical, you need to be an excellent practitioner. But if you only focus on clinical neglect the business, your yin and yang of your business starts to separate and you suffer in practice or you have to find a new job. So let’s start off with… you talk a lot about how to easily build a referral practice without sounding salesy. Because I think that’s where a lot of us, in the culture of Chinese medicine, we just feel uncomfortable telling people why they should see us. So can you talk a little bit about how we can build a referral practice and feel good about how we’re doing that?
Sure. Well, one of the things I teach at practice management class in Washington here and one of the things I talk about with the students is how to ask for referrals. And it’s really pretty simple and really straightforward. The biggest thing you have to do is just ask. That’s really what you have to do is just ask for the referrals. And the best time that I have identified when to ask for referrals is just when patients come off of the treatment table. Because they’re feeling different, they’re feeling shifted, they’re feeling a little more energized or a little more pain-free or whatever it is that’s going on with them may have shifted a little bit. So they’re little more available to receive this conversation.
And when patients come up with treatment table and you ask them how they’re feeling, and if you’re asking them if they’re… let them know that you are trying to build a referral based practice and that you now have some openings to receive some more referrals and if they’re willing to help you out. And I think it’s been an important conversation that I’ve had with my patients over the years is to get them involved with helping to build the practice in the community. Because a healthy community keep… a healthy practice leads to a healthy community, which leads to a healthy environment for people to live in. And its been on of the thing-
I’ll add to that Jeffrey. I want to add to what you just said for them to really apply this to the clinic. So as Jeffrey’s saying for this referral is ask for it. So basically you’re letting your inside voice come outside. Because really if a patient comes off the table and I often will do it when they say, “Oh my God, you fixed my back”, or, “My eczema is gone”, or, “You helped me got pregnant”, or whatever it is. When they are telling you how happy they are, what you’ve done, my inside voice is, “Oh great, I wish I could treat more people like you. Would you please let them know about me?”
All Jeffrey is suggesting is let that inside voice be your outside voice. Because they’ve just given you praise and so you really [inaudible 00:06:19] it this way, “Hey, I’m really glad you benefited from the treatment. If you have any family or friends that are struggling with the same thing, can you please let them know about me? Because I like treating people just like you.” All right, continue on Jeff. I just wanted to give him a [inaudible 00:06:33].
No and that’s exactly it, Lorne. That’s the conversation to have. Because the thing is, I’m going to talk about this later on too, but you’ve got these levels of patients practice, A patients, B patients and C patients. A patients are the ones that you love, that you look at your schedule and you’re like, “Yes”. Your energy is like really resonant with them and it goes up. The C patients, you look at your schedule, you’re like, “Oh, okay, I can pull this together, I can work on these people.” And I was doing a talk just to one [inaudible 00:07:04] not too long ago and I talked about this very thing and I got a bunch of giggles because people get it, they understand that there’s these levels of patients, the ones that you really resonate with and the ones that you don’t.
And those are the patients that are really willing to refer to you and that are really open to it. And a lot of times patients don’t even know that you even have the ability in your schedule to receive patients. So that’s important to even let them know that you are now able to accept more referrals, that you have time in your schedule. And again, that all goes back to just asking patients at that opportune time, when they’re feeling better, when they’re feeling a shift, and literally having a conversation with them that, “Hey, I’m really glad that you’re feeling better and we helped many people like that with the same condition that you’ve been suffering with. And if you could think any people around off the top of your head who can benefit from the type of care that we’ve been offering you, if I give you some of these cards to hand out to those people, would you be willing to give those to those people?”
So just [inaudible 00:08:18] expectations with our listeners as well, is we get that it feels uncomfortable, especially at the beginning. That’s why you’re not asking because it feels uncomfortable and you don’t want to feel uncomfortable. So just to let you know, you’re going to have to find some courage to do the ask. What Jeffrey is saying you got to ask otherwise they don’t know. And then it’s nice to do it after they have just had a great benefit and just say you would love to treat people like them if you know any friends and family, end of story. All it is is your internal voice coming into your external voice. The other expectation I want to let you know is not everybody is going to send people, so don’t take that personally, but if you don’t ask, you’re not going to get that anyhow. Any other tips for easily building referral practice? Otherwise, I’m happy to go and ask you some… pick your brain on a few other topics.
Yeah. Well, I just want to add one more thing about that. So when you start planting the seeds for referrals in your practice or anytime type of marketing for that matter, basically what you’re doing is planting the seeds and it’s not going to produce growth overnight. Every type of marketing activity that you do, every referral you ask for, every healthcare you attend, every talk you do, whatever it is that you’re putting out there in the world isn’t going to reap benefits immediately. So don’t get discouraged when you go out there and you do your health fair and no one comes in or you don’t convert people to be a first time paying patient or if you ask for referral and you’re not getting those immediately. Because again, it takes time and something that you mentioned Lorne, is it takes comfort and confidence to make that happen.
And I know a lot of practitioners are very introverted and they might not have that ability or that comfort level whether do you feel confident enough to ask these types of questions? One little insight I would love to share with you that changed my entire life of being in practice was joining Toastmasters. That shifted my existence and gave me the confidence and the ability to really probably even stand up and do this conversation today. I’ve been doing it for years and years so I feel super comfortable standing in front of a camera.
But when I started joining Toastmasters, and there’s a Toastmaster in every single city all around the world, I believe, and it just changed things for me. It gave me more confidence, I felt more assured of myself and my speaking abilities. So that’s one little tidbit I would love… if you guys are feeling unsure or not confident in your communication skills, check out Toastmasters. And check out a couple of them before you actually commit to one of them because there’re multiple ones probably within your zip code.
Good tip. Now we got about 10 minutes left cause we like these to be short, and powerful and impactful. So hopefully we can get through some of the questions I had for you. What do you recommend to position yourself as the go-to acupuncturist in your community, what advice do you have for our listeners?
Great. Well, a couple of things. I think getting out there as the go-to acupuncture is in your community you need to create a presence out there. You shouldn’t be just hiding behind your clinic doors day in and day out and just going in and leaving at the end of the day. You need to be out there, you need to be doing some health fairs, you need to be doing talks. That can really help position you as that go-to acupuncturist authority figure in your community. And, excuse me, and hosting internal events in your clinic, like patient appreciation days or end of the year holiday events and things of that nature. And one of the things that’s really important about doing any type of these external activities, whether it’s a health fair or a talk and you’re putting yourself out there, if you need something that you could be using to direct those people back into your practice.
I’ve talked about this plenty of times. We brainstormed it with probably you in the past, Lorne, but also in my practice management class, we are creating specific calls to action that get people from the outside world to step foot in your practice. And these are really important because with all the marketing that you do, you don’t want to just go to a networking event or a talk and at the end just be like, “Okay, see you good bye.” Or not have anything that you can hand out at networking events. You want something that you could literally hand off to people, whether it’s a practitioner to give to their patients or whether a prospect who might become a patient that will literally get them to step foot in your practice.
So aside from becoming… doing all the external marketing and getting your name and your face out there and being the voice of reason when it comes to health and alternative medicine in your community, it’s having something that you literally get people to take action to step foot in your practice. In the past we’ve talked about offering free mini stress reduction treatments, reduced rate clinical exams, comprehensive evaluations that are either free or low cost or something like that. So it’s something that can you easily create, there is Vistaprint out there, you can put something together, you can talk with your local printer or create a gift certificate itself. But it’s really a big piece I feel, of the marketing puzzle, that is overlooked in many practices.
So you’re suggesting, and I love this, always have a call to action and just get yourself out there? So doing talks, writing blogs, writing articles for third parties. I love your acupuncture happy hour that you recommend for that stress reduction in the clinic. And you can check of Jeffrey’s website because he’s got material on that and some PowerPoints on that idea. So it’s a fabulous idea. Patients get introduced with the minimal obstacles to come to your practice. They get to come in and have the relaxing stress free treatment is kind of a fun phrase. We call it Acubalance, my clinic Acubalance happy hour. You call it acupuncture happy hour, but it’s great. All these activities I want to remind you guys as well is, if you love what you do and you’re doing it to give rather than to get, then it’s really positive and you have a good experience and the vibe goes out to the public and the patients.
If you’re doing it to get, then you’re coming from resistance and they usually don’t work out so well, to be honest. It’s funny how that works. So you do it and it’s just that give or gain. Just having faith that it will come back to you. So you love the medicine and you want to help your community heals, so that’s the mindset. So now write an article to educate them, write a blog, an article for a third party, the happy hour, doing a talk and you’re getting yourself out there. And as Jeff said early on, a lot of these things, we call these stepping stones, as in they’re not like you do this and somebody automatically comes to your clinic, but if you do these several things and you do them over a period of time, months and years, you really get a cumulative effect, a compound effect.
So it’s not like, oh, you do a talk and you say, “Oh, it didn’t work.” Yeah, if you do one talk, you can’t assess that. Just like a patient comes to you and you do one treatment and they say it didn’t work, it doesn’t usually happen that way, right?
So it’s the same idea with this. So great idea with these call to actions.
Right. And I wanted to say one thing, one quick thing about the acupuncture happy hour. That has been in the past been one of my go-to tools to get people to come in to try the medicine and convert them to becoming first-time patients because it serves multiple purposes. It gets people in your clinic, it helps them overcome the fact these objections about acupuncture. Okay, most people have multiple objections about the medicine and it helps them overcome the fear issue that needles hurt because I use serin red, half inch needles, super tiny, super flexible in the ear, two point, point zero shenmen, right?
So they’re feeling that the problem is pain free. It overcomes their objection of does it work because they’re actually leaving the space, they’re shifted. Because I mean, I’ll ask all of you practitioners right now, if you do Point Zero Shenmen on your patient, are they going to feel different? Would they feel shifted leaving the space? They will. There’ll be on cloud nine or maybe cloud seven or getting up there either way, but that’ll help overcome that other objection. And those are the two main objections I feel like offering some type of event like that does. And it’s a great way to offer from a top or a healthcare class is come on in for free mini stress reduction treatment and a happy hour event. And then one other thing I wanted [crosstalk 00:17:00].
I love this as an objection for patients that, “Oh, it hurts”, or, “I don’t know if it works.” So this is great because you as a practitioner love the medicine and you want to help people, you want them to feel relaxed. They just have to get two points and then they feel it, experience it and you can’t describe that in words. So really, I love this happy hour in these two point Shenmen and Point Zero to really let them see how simple and how they can really experience that relaxation with acupuncture. Because a lot of people think, “How am I going to relax with needles in me?” Great idea. What’s the last last point you had there?
Oh, the last point is okay, so you mentioned this earlier that we as acupuncturists have this tremendous gift of healing, of transforming lives. I can talk about multiple people’s lives that I helped change over the years. I’m sure you can too. I mean, you’ve probably made many babies and families in the world here, right? And all of you out there, probably have experiences where you allow transformation to occur in your patient’s lives. Now my question to be hide that? Why not shout from the rooftops that this medicine is amazing because it absolutely 100% is safe, natural and effective and it shouldn’t be hidden.
So our marketing then should be standing on the laurels of the fact that this medicine is transformative, it’s amazing, it changes lives and that we have this gift from the tip of our needles that makes that shift happen. So knowing that, knowing that you are affecting change in a positive, creative way, why hide that from the world? I understand that people are self conscious and that you’re not feeling confident and that you’re not sure about what to say or communicate, but there are people out there, there are courses out there, there are ways to shift that conversation that many of us have been having all too often in our own lives that hold us back from being an amazing practitioner that we could be.
A great point. And this is that idea of marketing is salesy. So maybe just change the terminology because what you’re really doing is education. So Jeff said it so nicely, there’s people that will benefit for what you have to offer and you got into this profession because you want to help people. And so being quiet, you’re actually a disservice to your community because they don’t get to know about you. So just think of this as educations rather than you’re trying to get them in for your benefit. Think about it differently that educate the patients, if they know about you and they now understand the benefits, they get to choose whether they want to see you or not. So it’s not like they have to see you but they’ll never know about you or have the desire to see you if they don’t know about you and don’t know how you can help them.
So just call it education because that’s what marketing is, it can be just public education. Get yourself out there. Ask for referrals. If you get a compliment in the treatment room, just saying you want to see more people like you. And as you mentioned, keep investing in yourself. You talked about courses on practice management. So at healthyseminars.com we got more courses. Keep investing in yourself because that’s what’s going to make you attractive to your patients as well. Constantly build your confidence, constantly educate yourself.
And as we discussed this at the very beginning there’s a balance. You got your clinical skills, keep working on that. But we tend to not look at our business skills at all and most of us are struggling. Many people are struggling or have to find other careers and that’s not a service to the public either. So now’s the time to start to add a little bit of that, investing in your entrepreneurial skills. And so that way you can do what you love, which is treat people versus sitting in an empty treatment room.
We got to close up here, Jeffrey, any closing remarks? And [inaudible 00:20:57].
Yup, one last closing remark is thank you Lorne for having me here. I really appreciate that. The last closing remark is we owe it to our patients currently in our practice to market our practice to get out there because if we don’t we might not be in practice for very long. I’m not trying to scare anyone around this, but other people, if we don’t market our business, they’re going to find help elsewhere and maybe not the best kind of care that could be afforded them. That’s my last little insight into that. I’m sure you and I could talk for a long time about business and marketing so-
We’ll do this again on the… if you’ve seen this on Facebook, make a comment, actually what topics would you like me to have on the show? And I can do with Jeffrey if you have somebody else you want me to interview as well, post that in the comments as well. I’m happy to have other guests that you want to hear from and have a discussion with. Love to have you back again, Jeffrey, as well. I want to let everybody know that next week on the AAC to the point webinar, we have Virginia Doran, so tune into that.
Thank you Lorne.
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