Sixty practitioners and counting

We recently recruited in short succession practitioner #60 and 61; my gut feeling would be to celebrate as it’s a great achievement.  While celebration is an important aspect of acknowledging a certain level of success I feel at the moment it’d be wise to delay celebrations for a while and here is why. We currently have about a dozen experienced and qualified practitioners who are on their way to start working with us.  So, as we celebrated practitioner #50 in summer 2015 together with our first five years in business, I feel now inclined to wait until I can celebrate practitioner #70 which will be an amazing result in both absolute and relative terms.

A lot of people keep asking us how do we manage the allocation of 60 practitioners into a clinic with 8 therapy rooms? The answer lies in three simple truths:

  • Many practitioners are using a room just a few hours per week or month; this is because they work in other clinics, often outside Cambridge, they offer therapy part time as a side activity to a part or full time job or simply they are semi-retired but still want to keep occupied and earn some money in the process.
  • We are offering a range of agreements which allow many people to join our team of practitioners with a minimum monthly cost which, at the same time, allows receiving a share of enquiries we get from web and walk in clients.
  • We have organised each room to have 3 slots of 4.5 hours per day in order to allow, potentially, 3 different people to work in each room on a regular weekly routine. We then manage to fill up the various gaps between regular bookings with individual ad-hoc hours bookings.

So we are going to hold on our enthusiasm for a few more weeks/months and then celebrate all together practitioner #70 and our 7th year in business.

Tips to multiply your clients without relying on miracles

Many of the practitioners working at Salus Wellness started their career here straight after their qualifications.  Others decided to work with us for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Having a working place in the centre of Cambridge
  • Taking the business to the next level after working from home for some time
  • Being part of a larger community

In all cases, a decisive selling point for us has always been the high level of business support that all practitioners working at Salus Wellness get; from both the management team and fellow practitioners.

Very few of our current practitioners had experience in running businesses; the majority were employed in a full time job for many years before deciding to be a professionals in complementary health.  Starting in private practice is very much like starting another business and many new-comers struggle with the most basic but necessary skill  which is required to succeed: looking for and securing a stream of new clients.  A couple of our practitioners were told by their training school that, as soon as they qualified, clients would have flocked toward them.  They had to find out the hard way that this was not the case.

Every times a new practitioner starts working with us at Salus Wellness, we have a business assessment meeting with this person and check how his or her business is running, what are the current challenges and, if he or she is planning to grow the business, how  he or she will do it.

We are proud to say that our management team has the combined experience of over 60 years in sales, marketing and business management so we know what’s needed, how to do it and what should be done to start with.  To date all practitioners that followed our advice and, however annoying some time it may be, executed to the letter all necessary actions, are now running successful practices.  Among the others, some of them are still struggling to run a profitable business and some left Salus Wellness and in many cases blamed everybody else but themselves for their failure.

Here are some of the most common tips we offer to new practitioners; more than miraculous or magic business tricks these are standard marketing practice.  Please notice that some of these advices will apply to some areas of complementary health practice and not to others.

  • Have a good image of your practice:
    • Use your name unless you want to create a brand where you will employ other people
    • have a professional website with a blog
    • Have all of your printed literature (from business cards to brochures and leaflets) professionally designed and printed
  • Specialise in one or more areas; in 21st century being a Jack of all Trades is not going to help you too much
  • Get your name out there; use adequately social media and/or blogging with meeting people in person attending networking events
  • Build an audience and keep in touch with them informing them about[LD2]
  • Offer referrals’ commissions or rewards: e.g. get 30% off your next treatment when you recommend a new client and he or she mentions you
  • Run leaflet campaigns
  • Run Groupon, Tickles, Living Social or Wowcher campaigns
  • Use Google  AdWords or outsource it to a reputable company
  • Have separate phone line or mobile number and have a professional message when people call; ideally you should have your calls answered professionally as any new client who ring for an inquiry will likely call the next available practitioner in your area until he manages to speak to somebody
  • Reply within 24 hours to all inquiries via Email or other written communications
  • Avoid spending money on printed adverts; in most cases it will not generate enough business even to cover the costs

The above is a non-exhaustive list but surely a great start to establish a minimum level of service.  If you are working in private practice and need help growing your business please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help you and your business.

The 3×3 Essentials in the Complementary Health Business

Complementary health is first and foremost a business.  Many make the mistake of treating this profession as a passion for which they get paid. It must instead be a profession for which you have passion. The difference is small but critical and it often draws the difference between success and failure.

This article shows the 3 steps to take to ensure that you succeed in complementary health. Follow these steps and your chances to succeed may grow exponentially.

1 – Be professional

  1. Do not work from home. Working from home underlines a lack of professionalism and lack of commitment toward your profession. It is like saying “I cannot be bothered/commit to take an office as this is really something that I do in my spare time”. Even if you only practice on a part-time basis, working from an office tells that you work part-time, working from home tells that you work on your spare time; not the same thing!
  2. Specialise.  Jack of all trades masters of none belong to the past. Today people look for specialised knowledge. At first you may think that specialising in one area, whether that is weight loss, phobias, sport, back pain, or whatever you may specialise in, will reduce the number of enquiries you receive. In reality this is really not an issue. On the contrary you will get more business; there may only be 20,000 people suffering from a phobia in your county against the 5,000,000 seeking help in all areas. 20,000 people is still a lot of people and even if you only got 5% of this, you will need to see 1 client per day for 4 years before you have worked with your 5%. And that is working 5 days a week for 52 weeks of the year – eg no holiday! There are enough clients in any niche.
  3. Do your homework. Make sure that you know your stuff. Don’t improvise and ask for advice from people who have done what you do for longer than you. Ask the question and you may look stupid once, don’t ask and you will always remain stupid.

2 – Be seen

Marketing is important and it is important to get your marketing right. The way you market yourself depends pretty much on what you do. In complementary health however there are a few things that are proven to work. These are:

  • Networking
  • Flyers
  • Competitions
  1. Networking needs no elaboration other than getting out there and talking to people. Let everybody know that you are the expert in whatever it is that you are an expert in. Collect business cards and send them follow up emails after you met. Do not be pushy, something light like: “Hi Greg, it was good to meet you earlier today. Just a quick line to say hi and make sure that you have my contact details. I would like to be included in your newsletter and I would like to include you in mine which I hope you can find useful.”
    You can also go the extra mile and actually ask some of the people you meet at networking events to meet again on a one to one basis to understand more about each other businesses and requirements. There is enough to say about networking for a book to be written; for now, make sure you follow the steps above and a large part of the rest will come naturally.
  2. Flyers are one of those things that some people believe in and some others don’t. The truth is simple: those who believe in flyers understand how to create and use flyers, those who do not believe in them do not know this. Flyers must:
    • Include a head line, sub-headline, photo, call to action, urgency factor, benefit for the client
    • Be delivered to your neighbourhood at least 3 times (eg 3000 flyers to 1000 houses)
    • Be small and essential (not too many words and printed on A6 or A5)
    • Be monitored in terms of results
    • Here is an example of a good flyer
  3. Competitions are the best way known to me to generate traffic to your website and get free press coverage. The way this works is elementary: write to the local press offering to give away a series of treatments to their readers through a competition. The competition will involve that the readers fill out a coupon or enter their details on a webpage and the winner will be given the prize. All those people who did not win can be contacted with an offer such as: “Sorry you did not win! As consolation prize here is a 50% off discount voucher”. This is an excellent way to get targeted traffic and free press coverage.

3 – Business is Business

Business is business and so treat it as such. Here are the 3 main pointers:

  1. Be profitable. Make sure that you are making a profit with every client you see. If you lose 1p every client and you increase the number of clients you see, you will lose more pennies. Analyse your costs including marketing, rent, disposables, taxes, transport and all your other expenses related to the business and make sure that the fees you charge can generate the desired profit for you.
  2. Pricing. Charge what you are worth plus a little more! People associate the fees of a service to the quality of the same. Increasing your prices to the higher end of the scale will not only give you more profits but also more clients and more people will associate more value to your services. Investigate and see what your competitors charge and put yourself at the higher end of that scale.
  3. Plan and forecast. Make sure that you have a business plan so that you have a precise goal and an action plan that backs it up. In short, make sure that you know what you want and what you need to do in order to get it.

This article gives you a good idea of the main points that you must pay attention to when running a complementary health business (or any other small business for that matter). I recommend that you elaborate on every single point and apply these notions to your business as soon as you can.