Today, I received an email from another colleague in the community asking “SchaOn, how have you best built your business?”
Now, I’m always excited to help, though I don’t think this person thought it would contain this much information. 🙂 Here is my response:
There are so many, though I would say acting like a business, meaning:
- Having office hours, and sticking to them (and being there & present)
- Online Scheduling – also clearly stating pricing for services on website
- Automatic reminders of appointments (online scheduling system handles that)
- Being professional (dressed nice, smell good, answering the phone professionally – “Thank you for choosing Psinergy Health, this is SchaOn. How may I help you?”)
- Returning phone calls ASAP (you would be amazed at how many practitioners do NOT return calls or emails)
- Being real, upfront and honest
- Following the law (MN Statute 146A) — going through the Client Bill of Rights with the clients, also, putting out the Client Bill of Rights for potential clients
- Doing Free talks, and providing good, healthy snacks for the talks
- Making myself available to people
- Informing and encouraging instead of talking down
- Advertising in areas that we want to support. Print Advertising takes 3 to 6 months to start working, so you want it with a publication that you want to be giving money to support their distribution, not solely because you want clients from them. If you’re not getting clients from that publication, start informing your clients of that publication (give them a copy each month with their appointment). Print publications get handed off to 1 or 2 people after the original person. For example, we spend ad dollars with Natural Awakenings Twin Cities because we find that the articles published are very informative to my clients (as well as to ourselves). Additionally, Jackie with Natural Awakenings does a LOT for her advertisers, and is a HUGE wealth of information and resources. You can truly tell that she is there for the advertisers, and not just for the money. We also do print with the Park Bugle, our local newspaper. They are a non-profit and help to keep the community informed of the news of the neighborhood. We also do online ads with the Bugle, they have a page rank of a 5, and helps us have a higher page rank as well. Additionally, we also do some advertising with the Pioneer Press. Yes, it’s a large company, though our rep is very nice, and this also helps to open other doors for us not normally available to smaller businesses. Additionally, we also are members of MetroIBA as they hold many of the same values we do.
- Expos — and affordable expos at that. Yes, the really LARGE expos like Healthy Life or Edge Life are great exposure though you will spend between dollars and time about $1,500 to $2,000 just for that weekend. Newer, small businesses often don’t have those dollars available — so, smaller venues that still attract a crowd are really good. In my first 3 or 4 years of business, we averaged 14 expos/year.
- In my first 3 years of business, I had over 450 client files. Some I only saw once, some where from free talks I did, some were from group sessions, others were from Expos, and others became regular clients.
- Have a newsletter for your clients (and don’t sign up people to it that you just had a conversation with and just received their business card… unless THEY ask to be on your newsletter). Also, send out the newsletters regularly and consistently. Be informative and not overly selly. Yes, sell in the newsletter, but have it more about informing and educating. Also, I didn’t do a newsletter in the first 3 years of business, and hence, one of the biggest reasons why I had a really hard time retaining 1/10th of the 450+ clients I had worked with over those years. This was one of the biggest ways I lost a lot of potential money.
- Talk to people about what you do in simple terms, and terms THEY can understand. They don’t need to know everything you do and how you do it… they just need to know that you CAN do what they need for them. It’s easy for us practitioners to over-inform and confuse our clients because all of this is so common to us, but NOT to them (do they know what LI4 and LI11 is for? Probably not).
- Remember, you don’t have to do everything right away — as you grow, offer more. This helps to keep you fresh and new to your clients.
- Don’t bend over backwards for your clients. Yes, be accommodating, but do not put yourself in harms way, even perceived. For example, I have a 24-hour cancellation policy which is pretty standard in this day in age. One day, a client never showed for their appointment called, no answer, so I left a message, and emailed over an invoice for the missed session. After this person’s appointment and my phone call and email, they call me and said that they spaced out about it, and that they shouldn’t have to pay the appointment because in their business they don’t enforce that, but they would be happy to reschedule and pay for future appointments, but if I made them pay for the missed one, they would stop being my client. That person is no longer my client.
- Consistently update your skills (and add them to your Client Bill of Rights) – no one modality will solve everything
- Be OK with referring clients out to other practitioners that you trust. Let your client know WHY you are referring them to this other practitioner, and if they should be working with you during that time as well, or when they should start to come back. I refer out about 90% of my clients to other practitioners who specialize in things I do not, like massage, cranio-sacral, more in-depth Ayurvedic procedures, Chiropractic (this is my #1 I refer out for), Rolfing as well as a few others. Also, refer out to practitioners you know and how they work. I’ve referred out to some practitioners I didn’t know, and now this practitioner wants to see this client every week, or 2 or 3 times a week, and not willing to coordinate on care. A good referral would be like when I referred a client to Marcia Meredith, a fantastic Ayurvedic Practitioner in Minneapolis, specifically for Marma Massage. My client went there for the Marma Massage, and Marcia didn’t try to gain the client permanently. She knew that it was a referral for a specific service to be completed and then sent her on her way. For me, I get consistent referrals from other practitioners for Kirlian as the practitioner (and client) want to know more information, or see things from a different set of eyes. Those clients, we do the Consultation (and I take notes for the other practitioner, unless the other practitioner is there), and I am fully aware that this client will be irregular as the other practitioner is their primary, not me. Also, do not EVER put down the other practitioner (unless they are doing something illegal or out-right and completely unethical and you are 100% sure of that).
- Note – When referring clients, if you want to talk with the other practitioner, make sure to have the client complete a Release of Information form!
So, that’s my top 20! Hope it helps 🙂