I’m continually shocked at how many acupuncturists are focusing on the wrong things. It happens ALL the time. I’d guess most business owners, let alone acupuncturists, go through the same thing. If you don’t have enough patients/clients/customers, what should you be doing?
Obviously… getting some!
I offer business building coaching, but right now I don’t have ANY coaching clients. There’s a good reason why.
Almost without fail, the folks that want coaching aren’t focused on getting patients. If they ask me for coaching, I’m going to ask what they’ve been doing.
If the answer is “nothing”… well, part of the coaching requirements is to take action. Disqualified. I could charge money just to tell people what they already know they should do. Easy money for me… but it’s not my style.
So I’ll tell them…go ask for referrals, give talks, set up a website, something, anything. Only then we’ll talk.
Funny thing… They don’t come back. Don’t need to. My work is done, even if I never got paid for it.
Sometimes it’s not a lack of action though . Focusing on less effective ways of getting patients is almost as bad as taking no action at all. If you want effective, word of mouth, and websites are very low cost and low effort. There’s also more methods that take more effort but also work. If you’re not doing these first, then you’re probably wasting time and money.
Also, focusing on your clinic as a business doesn’t mean you’re focused on getting more patients. In just this past month:
- A new acupuncturist said she’s getting incorporated and making a logo and business cards before getting patients.
- 3 acupuncturists asked me if they should “finish” their website before publicizing it in Google and to their patients.
- An acupuncturist really, really made his website fancy, but accidentally “hid” it. I didn’t know it was hidden and when I found out, we started working on fixing it. The next week he got 2 new patients. He’s also on the first page of Google for his area.
- An acupuncturist told me about one new patient via Twitter (it’s like text message facebook). She’s been doing this for months!
Now, none of these things are necessarily the wrong thing to do. For example, I’m almost positive the Twitter acupuncturist does it because it’s fun for her, not because she thinks it’s going to get her all the patients she needs. (She’s a social person, and already doing very well.) Some people really enjoy fiddling with their websites (our service makes it easy).
So all of this is fine, if you realize what’s a distraction, and what’s not.
If you’d like to read more on this idea, I suggest reading a book called Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson. I just read it, and it’s really good. Michael (a pseudonym) is a centimillionaire publisher, who has started many, many businesses and coached people to start many more. He makes a good case for putting sales first. He also makes the point that if it’s not perfect, the feedback from actual customers will help make things even better. If it’s good, if it’s a fair value, it doesn’t need to be perfect yet.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who spend lots of money on incorporating, logos, office furniture, a lease, brochures etc. before they have their first patient. Stuff just adds to overhead – monthly expenses you have to pay whether you have patients or not.
I did this. About 17 years ago, I started a small business making rubber stamps. This was WAY before it became easy or common to personalize things – I knew the technology through my work with a wedding invitation/stationary manufacturer. I could put people’s names on the stamps, graphics, etc. I was thinking big, and here’s what I did.
- I incorporated in Delaware.
- Created a lot of brochures, materials etc. that no one saw.
- Opened a business bank account.
- Got a Business Reply account at the post office.
After all this work and expense, I only found ONE store to to carry my stamps -and there was only about 1 order a week.
If I had to do it over again, it would be easy – I’d get the sales/stores before anything else. Talk about putting the cart before the horse!
What saved me is I didn’t have high overhead. I spent money I didn’t need to, but I had no ongoing expenses/overhead.
High overhead causes cash flow problems… and cash flow issues are the #1 cause of bankruptcy.
Focusing on getting patients/making sales will actually help AVOID cash-flow problems. It will help avoid spending money you don’t need to.
So do you have enough patients? If not, what have you done in the past week to get some? How can you get more patients, faster, and if possible, automatically?
This “Ready, Fire, Aim” concept is something I’ve been thinking about lately. You may have noticed I haven’t written much lately. I’ve been slaving away building a new and improved version of the website service. I can now serve chiropractors, naturopaths and massage therapists in addition to acupuncturists.
It’s -almost- perfectly ready. I could put it off for another month or two while I test and perfect it. But that wouldn’t be smart of me. Instead, I’m offering you a deal. If you’re willing to help me test out the new website system, so everything can be ready sooner, I’m willing to give you a huge discount. See if you qualify.