Lorne Brown, I’m your host. I’m a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine. I have my practice in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Canada. I’m also a CPA and an author of Missing the Point: Why Acupuncturists Fail and What They Need to Know to Succeed.
I’m very excited and fortunate to have a colleague and friend on today, Chris Axelrad. Chris is a leader in the industry. He has been the president of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. I can tell you he knows his stuff and he shares his stuff, evident by the fact that he’s taught all around the world in US, Canada, and Europe. He’s spoken on healthyseminars.com. He’s been a presenter at the Integrative Fertility Symposium as well. This man, this practitioner follows his heart. He beats to his own drum. This is also evident by the fact that his family, his late father, his siblings, his uncles are all medical doctors, and he chose to go into acupuncture against their will and their desire. So there’s the man that follows his heart, his dream. He is very successful, and that’s why we have him on the show. He has at least four clinics, the Axelrad Clinics and growing with many associates. Now he also mentors acupuncturists so they can be successful. Chris, welcome to the show.
Thanks man. It’s awesome to be here. Appreciate you inviting me.
I want to hear about this topic that we chatted about that you’re going to share today on the magic, the magic word that gets you committed to patients. Can you start off with what do you mean by a committed patient?
Well, committed patient is somebody who shows up and is really serious about getting help. So they’re not kicking tires or just kind of looking, to see what it might be like to get some acupuncture or to get some herbal medicine or whatever. They have a serious problem. They’re seriously interested in solving the problem, and that in and of itself just lends itself to a different kind of attitude, a different kind of willingness to be led and to be really taught about the things that are going to help them to escape their problems. As opposed to patients, and I know all of us have had these kinds of patients before that are just sort of kind of showing up but then asking a lot of questions and constantly having doubts and constantly never know if they’re going to show up for their next appointment, things like that. So that’s really after a while of being in practice.
I think most of us start to realize that it’s going to be really tough to have not just a successful practice but a practice that we enjoy and a practice that we really feel is fulfilling if that’s the type of people that we’re attracting into our practice all the time, people who are just not at a place where they’re really serious about the process that we have for them. So to me is someone who’s committed.
It reminds me of one of my teachers that used to say, “The client has to want it more than you do, and the client has to work harder than you do.” You’re still showing up giving 110%, Chris, but you’re saying you want that patient not only to match it but to exceed that.
Well, here’s the thing, I mean, to a point, to a point. I think that for most, most people are just not aware of the amount of self-care and kind of work on themselves that goes into their process of healing, especially if they have a really serious medical condition. So sometimes we can’t just like in any way in my process, which has proven to be pretty successful by the fact that we do have four clinics, and I’ve trained three other people in my process and they do it pretty well. Our process is really predicated on not overwhelming people with and making them work, like they don’t even realize they’re working that hard. So it’s like this stealth kind of way that we go about it that gets them on board doing the most important things.
A lot of times they don’t realize how many things they are changing but, yeah. I mean, the bottom line is that you’re right. I mean, a patient can’t want it… If a patient doesn’t want it, we can’t want it for them. We can’t want the results on their behalf. A lot of people do make that mistake, and it’s a very draining way to go about practice because at the end of the day when you want it more than your patient wants it, you’re just going to a well that has no water in it trying to get water. So it just gets to a point where it’s fruitless.
So in this magic word, they get you committed patients. You mentioned when we have a committed patient then so they do want to do the self-care, and you have a system in place that stealth-like. So they’re making the changes and it’s not considered extremely hard work. What is this magic word you’re referring to when you say the magic word that gets you committed patients?
Well, I thought about it after I presented that idea. There’s really two magic words, but the first magic word is the name of their problem, the name of their problem that they were told by doctors, right? So I think what happens in our industry a lot is people avoid common terminology for diseases. Because sometimes maybe it feels like, “Oh, that’s not really Chinese medicine. That’s not really holistic. That’s not…” So we aren’t going to use that term. What we have to understand is that someone who doesn’t know anything about Chinese medicine, which by the way is 99.999999999 many nines you want to think about, a percentage of people in the West don’t know anything about Chinese medicine. So the terminology that we put out there if it’s not in their language and in their sort of meets them where they are, then they don’t pay attention to it.
So someone goes to a doctor and they’re told that they have, let’s say infertility, you’re in fertile. Okay, granted. I know in the fertility world there’s a lot of people who think that that’s a bad word, infertility, and I get that. The key is that to a person who has been told that by their doctor, that’s the label that has been sort of put on them and that’s the key word that’s going to get their attention when they’re starting to look for help. That’s the word that’s going to get their attention.
At same thing with, for instance, Crohn’s disease. So there’s a lot of people who want to brand themselves like, “I help people with digestive problems. I help people to have awesome digestion.” Well, no one’s looking for help with digestive problems per se. I mean, if it’s a digestive problem, what most people think of is, “Oh, a little reflux, a little upset tummy,” a little whatever. I can just go to the drugstore and spend five bucks and buy an over-the-counter medicine for that. Like I always say, if you’re competing with Zantac, Advil, Tylenol and all these things, Claritin, you’re losing. You’re going to lose because that’s not a fair fight.
When you start to call out the names of serious problems that people can’t go to the drugstore and buy a pill to fix Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, not just headaches, not just neck pain but migraine, chronic, recurrent, severe, some type of severe headache; I’m not an expert in headaches but I’m sure there’s a million different terms for headaches besides migraines, or spondylosis or herniated disk, not back pain. Because again, the average person with back pain, yeah, back pain it sucks. No one likes to have back pain. At the same time, the average person with back pain is probably just taking over-the-counter meds or stretching or doing something like that.
When we start to call out real problems that have a connotation of a different level of severity, number one, when those are the words that we’re using, the terms that we’re using all the time whether it’s in our marketing or advertising or public speaking, whatever, then it connotes a different level of expertise, connotes a different level of skill and a different willingness to solve serious problems. That’s how we want to position ourselves. I mean, we don’t want to position ourselves as an accessory, as an alternative, as the cute little acupuncturist down the street that helps people relax. I mean, I don’t take that personally. Of course, I’m happy to help anybody who comes into my office.
When it comes to building a big practice, if you’re not really reaching out and offering to solve serious problems, it’s going to be a tough row. Because, again, the level of commitment. If someone comes in and it’s like their back hurts a little bit, you can probably fix that. I know for sure I can fix that in one or two treatments almost every single time, and then you just had patient come through and do two visits. It’s like, “Well, okay, now I’ve got to get another patient.” When that person goes out and just tells their buddy or their friend whether it’s a guy or a woman or a man, “Hey, my back’s better now. I went to acupuncture,” and all their only friend reference is this really easy problem that you help them fix and they tell their friend who has easy problems, “Well, guess what,” you might get a few more people in. They’re going to do three or four visits, and they’re going to quit. Why? Because they’re better, which is fine. That’s totally cool.
If we really want to have successful practice, we have committed patients that are coming back that are really working on a problem, then we have to actually use the names of those problems and not be afraid to use the big scary words like Crohn’s disease, again, getting into eczema, psoriasis. Again, infertility is a big one, endometriosis, you name it. If you call out these big problems, then people will start to pay attention and people who are really actually in need of our help. Because at the end of the day, a lot of these are chronic problems that Western medicine has no answer for. Because, as we all know, not that Western medicine is inherently bad, not that we should avoid Western medicine all together, however, Western medicine is like a sledgehammer sometimes. Sometimes you’re applying a nuclear bomb to a problem that just requires like just a basic, “Oh, no. I don’t want to use an analogy of a pistol.”
I am in Texas by the way, so you know. So you don’t need to bring a nuclear bomb to a gunfight, okay? If one little bullet will fix it, there’s no point in bringing all this power. That’s where Western medicine sometimes has a problem. That’s where we can come in and do amazing things to help people’s natural, innate healing process to kick in and fix the problem itself. The people who need that help the most are people who have had Crohn’s disease for 15 years and are on five medications, and the medications themselves are almost as bad as the condition itself. They’re really tired of that, and they really want something that’s going to give them a real way out.
When you start to brand yourself that way and you start to use those words, it brands you as an expert. It brands you as a high-level authority, and that’s what gets you the reputation and then, of course, you have to actually treat people. What I’ve found honestly is that our medicine, despite what a lot of people would tell you and even people in our own field might say, our medicine is immensely capable of helping people with these kinds of problems and in not that long of a period of time. So people will really, really start to buy into what we do more and more as we call out these serious problems and are willing to go out there and actually attack these serious problems and build ourselves that reputation of being able to solve these serious problems, so.
Let me see if I got this then I’m going to summarize what I think I’m hearing. You’re talking about a committed patient and also known as a motivated patient. So if you’re going to treat, you talked about eczema aforementioned. Eczema is something that somebody really wants to get rid of that usually. It’s more of a complicated serious problem versus somebody who got hives from eating something. If somebody’s got hives, they’re going to try something over-the-counter antihistamine and see if that would work. If somebody’s got a chronic condition, people with chronic like migraines or eczema or infertility, then looking to get good at even specialized like you’ve done with fertility is find an area where the patient is committed. So skin conditions, somebody has skin conditions especially around summertime, they’re going to want to make that clear if they’re going to put on T-shirts and shorts if it’s on their arms and legs or even on their face.
So am I hearing that right? You’re committed patient, you’re motivated patient, you’re looking for things where there’s not great alternatives for them. There’s not this over-the-counter quick fix. These are people that have chronic conditions, and they’re going to be motivated because of their condition. It’s interfering with their quality of life. They’re going to be seeking out help and a lot of these chronic conditions, although allopathic conventional medicine has done wonders. We’re alive here past age 40. It does great things. Cubed carrot is great. Some chronic conditions, Chinese medicine can treat effectively also, and we’re an option for that. So did I get that correct?
Yeah, exactly. I think it just has to do with, again, using these terms that are very specific and that connote a different level of problem. So it’d be like saying, “I treat allergies.” Allergies is a very general term most people don’t really feel. If you just say allergies to somebody, they’re going to think, “Oh, hay fever,” or just a little bit of a head cold one day taking antihistamine. When you start saying things like eczema, when you start saying things like severe allergic recurrent rhinitis or severe allergic sinusitis, I mean, again, I’m not an expert allergist, but there are lots of different conditions that are allergic conditions that we can certainly help people to balance their immune system more, help their immune system be less reactive so they may not need as much medication, things like that. But we’ve got to actually call that out.
Now the other secondary benefit of that is that if you say, “I can treat Crohn’s disease. I can help you with the symptoms of Crohn’s disease,” or, “I can help you to feel better with Crohn’s disease,” right, what does that say to the person who doesn’t have Crohn’s disease but has some type of digestive problem as well? It may not be Crohn’s disease, but maybe, I don’t know. They haven’t been diagnosed with that, but they just know they don’t feel well. They’ve been to doctors, whatever. What does it say to those people? Well, it says… It’s this kind of thing where it’s like, “Wow. If this person is offering to help people with Crohn’s disease, my problem’s going to be pretty easy for them.” Like I should definitely like check this out, right? So you kind of get this bigger benefit.
It’s called aspirational marketing, where you really call the big shot and what that does is it, and even people who don’t necessarily need that much help will still see you as an expert and someone capable of helping them.
For the practitioner, you’re going to want to have some, for me anyhow, some form of passion in treating that area. So Chris is sharing that. Use the terminology that the patient’s going to be familiar with, so be patient-centered focus. So use the terminology and the terminology will be some of the Western diagnosis they have received from their medical doctor. For example, if it’s Crohn’s that they received from their Western medical doctor, well, in Chinese medicine that is a disease category diarrhea, bloody diarrhea. This is something, it’s not called Crohn’s in Chinese medicine. However, we’re able to pattern differentiate the symptoms into your Chinese medicine and so you’re still treating the Chinese medicine pattern. You’re treating the individual. You’re not treating Crohn’s. That’s just the map that Western medicine has given that body, right, but that’s what the patient’s going to understand.
So that’s what I’m hearing. You say, Chris, is use the terminology that they’re familiar with. I’m adding that because Chris does a lot of work with fertility as do I in my clinic. We’re passionate about helping bring in healthy babies into the world and helping this population. We find it fun to work with hormonal imbalances and work with women and men wanting to have children. So it’s something that you’re going to need to have passion for because you’re going to want to do all that additional learning and studying, and you’re going to see so much of it. You’re really going to want to like it if you’re going to see that much of it.
Yeah. But I would say also I’ve gotten to a point, Lorne, for me anyway, this is just me and maybe it’s because I’ve been so heavily involved in helping people with their marketing and their practice management stuff over the last three years since I started my program. To me, the passion is seeing that smile on someone’s face when they start to realize like they found something that’s working. The fulfillment of the fertility thing is amazing to know that you’ve changed someone’s life in that way. It’s just as life-changing for someone who has suffered with a severe chronic illness for years and has not really been able to have a really good quality of life to suddenly feel empowered and realize that they’ve got something that is really truly changing their life.
So I always encourage my clients not to focus so much on the specific thing, the problems so to speak. Because sometimes we can’t decide what problems are going to come to us. I mean, it’s like the market is going in some ways make that decision as well. The main thing is to have a positive attitude and not focus so much on what you’re getting out of it and your own thrills, but focusing on like just the service aspect and certain people and empowering people. So when we’re more focused on that, then the specifics of exactly what we’re specializing in, to me, that’s what drives any successful practitioners, just the joy of knowing that you’ve changed someone’s life.
Sometimes that life change is very subtle. It’s not this really big obvious thing like a child, which is a super obvious change. Sometimes it’s a very subtle change that they’re no longer having trouble sleeping through the night. They’re waking up every day. They’re able to focus more, and that’s going to change their life in millions of ways going forward, I mean, so-
I think you hit it with the service to others. Because in the spiritual books, they talk about service to others. In the law of attraction books, it service to others. In the entrepreneur books, to be an entrepreneur, it’s about service to others. I think one in the Bible said, “Do unto others as you want them to do on to you.” It’s all about service to others. If you can do something that’s going to help the masses and it’s more about them than yourself, you’re on the right track. That seems to be a common theme in most of [crosstalk 00:22:01].
That’s it, man. So like there’s a lot of people who want to have a specialty fertility practice and maybe that’s just not going to happen because of several factors. Could be competitive factors. Could be just that in their city or their market, there’s just not enough people that have that problem to really have a whole practice revolving around that. So we’ve got to learn how to be humble and not want to make it all about ourselves and [crosstalk 00:22:34]. This is amazing that I’m helping you with this really simple, easy problem, but watching you grow and watching you overcome this. I’m not saying I’m saying this in patients, right, but just in my own mind. I mean, that to me gives me a lot of fulfillment.
I wanted to say real quick because I know we’re up against time-wise, but the other magic word that’s really important is actually a magic phrase is, “Yes, I can help you.” You need to learn how to say that even when you’re not sure, and here’s why. Because nobody’s ever sure. Even when someone goes in for IVF or someone goes in for a sinus surgery or someone goes in for to take a medication for that, as much evidence as there is that that procedure works, no one’s ever sure it’s going to work for that person until we try it. So we just say, “Yes, I can help you,” so that people will trust us and will be willing to try it out.
What I always do, look, and this is very counter what most people would say to do, but let me tell you why. Let me tell you why. I have chosen and I have realized that I always want to be the person who believes my patient can heal and be wrong. If I’m wrong, I will accept that. But when my patient is sitting here, I believe in them 100% and I’m not going to hold that back. I’m going to tell them, “Yes, I can help you. Yes, we make this happen. Yes, well, let’s do this.” I will take the hit of being wrong rather than being the person who holds back and says, “Well, I’m not sure. Maybe da, da,” and be right.
That’s not who I want to be. I don’t want to be the one that predicts or hedges against failure. I’m going to be the one that hedges for success. So you’d be surprised, man. I’ve never had a patient come back to me who didn’t get pregnant when I told them that I was really confident they could get pregnant. Honestly, I felt that way. I’m not lying. I feel that way, and we can’t control who gets pregnant. We can’t control who overcomes their Crohn’s disease or overcomes their eczema, but I’ve never had a single patient come back to me and tell me and tell me I lie to them or anything like that. In fact, I’ve had a lot of my patients who never got pregnant working with me, they still referred to me to this day. They refer people for other stuff. They even refer people to me for fertility.
So what they want from us is full effort. They want to know that we’re on board, and we believe in them. In my opinion, not one shift can bring you, I mean, at least double your referral rate if you just show up that way, because people want to know that you’re an advocate for them.
Speaking of the referrals. So you’re looking for the motivated, the committed patient, and you’re a practitioner that you feel you can help people with certain conditions you want to serve others. What are you suggesting they reach these patients to let them know they exist to get them into their clinic, this idea of the magic word to get committed patients? Do you have some suggestions for our listeners?
Well, yeah. I mean, we use a lot of paid advertising in my clinic. We’re hardcore about that. Last year, I want to say for 2018; I don’t have my books for 2019 yet, but for 2018 we spent almost $40,000 on advertising. What you have to understand is that’s for the entire year. Our monthly revenue is somewhere between 80 and $100,000, so you take that 40 grand we spent for the whole year. The point is, is that we’re spending that money and we’re paying Facebook and Google. We don’t do YouTube ads yet, but I want to be doing that this year.
To put the word out there in front of thousands of people every single day, every single day, here’s what we can help people with. Here are the things we help people with. What’s really cool about that is when you do that, you do it consistently over a period of time and you don’t like stop. That’s the thing. A lot of people make the mistakes like, “I run an ad for a month. It didn’t quite work. I’m going to stop.” Well, number one, you got to say the right thing in your ad. Number two, you can’t just advertise then disappear. Sometimes it takes six weeks, eight weeks, two months for people to see your name and get comfortable with you enough to actually take action. So you have to be consistent, especially at the outset.
What I was going to say is that we use those terms, we put them in ads so that people will see that word which applies to them. That’s like the leak in the chain that makes them stop and go, “Oh, wait, this is about me. Let me read this. Let me pay attention to this. Let me watch this video. Let me click this link and go see what this person has to say.”
When you know how to build this ecosystem of advertising and remarketed stuff and all that, you build a really powerful system to get people into your clinic. Like I said, we spent half of one month’s revenue per year on our ads. We never worry. We never ever, ever, ever, ever worry about whether we’re getting new patients. We get at least three to five new patient requests every single day, some days more, every single day.
You know what I’m doing? I’m in here treating patients. I’m at home. I treat patients two days a week. I see about 50 to 60 patients a week in two days. I have my associates. None of my associates are seeing less than 40 patients a week. One of them sees 70 patients a week, and it just rolls like that. I’ll have to check my ads every couple of weeks just to make sure they’re not getting stale, especially on Facebook. But other than that, man, I mean, it’s fun.
You’re having fun, and that’s a big part of it as well, having fun while you’re doing all this.
Yeah, it’s fun, man.
I want to thank you, Chris, for coming on and sharing. People, if they want to get to know more about some of the mentorship that you’re doing for acupuncturists on building practices, can you give us a website please?
Yeah, it’s chrisaxelrad.com. Axelrad is spelled A-X-E-L-R-A-D, so chrisaxelrad.com. I don’t have a big fancy website. Actually, the homepage is just a video, because I have a busy practice. I don’t have this whole thing, this whole big fancy operation-
His picture, it was good. I had a chance to see some of his material. So you’re right on, Chris. I know colleagues that have been doing your program and you’re transforming their practices, and I care about that because I want prosperous healers. I have a mission to help heal the planet, and you heal the planet by healing yourself, that was a self-care. So I think Chinese medicine is part of that as other modalities are as well, but Chinese medicine is part of that. It’s part of the plan. I think it has so much to offer on a spiritual, emotional, mental, physical level. So thank you for joining us.
For those you want to check out, I have healthyseminars.com is my website for Lorne Brown. I also just opened up lornebrown.com where I have conscious talk, so you can check that out at lornebrown.com. Next week, checkout To the Point. I’m at the AAC webinar series. We got Virginia Doran. Thank you guys very much.
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