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Acupuncture Today
May, 2002, Vol. 03, Issue 05
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What Successful Practices Do

By Hubert Chang

Does your office make things easy for your patient?
Does your office have a good library of reference materials?
Does your office have a list of other health care providers in your area and their specialties on hand?
Does your office staff understand your expectations?
Do you take pride in your office?

If you answered "No" to any of the above questions, this article might interest you.

If you ask any of your patients where the like to go shopping, nine out of ten will reply, "Nordstrom's." If you ask that same group of people why they like Nordstrom's, 10 out of the 10 would say, "Because of their service." I don't know if this is true, but a patient of mine told me a story of how Nordstrom's built its reputation on service. According to my patient, Nordstrom's was only a shoe retailer in the past. As the story goes, a farmer walked in with a tractor tire and demanded a refund because it didn't last as long as it was supposed to. It was obvious at that time that Nordstrom's didn't sell tractor tires (nor to this day does it sell tractor tires). Instead of arguing with the farmer, the manager took the tire and refunded the man his money. Whether the story is true or not, if you walk into Nordstrom's today, their level of customer service sets them apart.

What does this have to do with running an acupuncture office? It has everything to do with running not just an acupuncture office, but any type of business. In business school, "location, location, location" is the key. In reality, location may play a role in having a successful office, but many would agree that it is the "service, service, service" that keeps people coming back.

Does your office make things such as scheduling an appointment, rescheduling and/or canceling an appointment easy? A successful office will make everything easy for the patient. I've discovered that with most successful offices, everyone from the staff to the doctor does their absolute best to be helpful. This means that every effort will be made to accommodate for the patient's scheduling needs. Another important feature that sets successful practices apart is the human element. For example, when you make a call to most companies today, you often get tied up in voice mail. It is a rare commodity to actually hear a human voice. Don't let your practice perpetuate this "non-human" phenomenon.

Does your office have a library of reference materials? As practitioners, every so often we come across a complicated case. A successful practice will usually have a small library of reference materials in the office. This reference library allows us to find answers when we need them quickly. Even with a reference library, though, we sometimes don't always have answers for our patients' ailments. This is when it is important to have a referral list of other health professionals in your area from which you can refer to. Not only does this make you a more informed practitioner; it also helps you build a referral network in your area, which makes good business sense.

Do you have in-house meetings at least once a month with your staff? You should have a minimum of one meeting a month with your staff. It is crucial for your staff to understand what you want from them and what they should expect from you. Interoffice tension between staff members and doctors can kill your practice. Staff meetings encourage communication and clear up any assumptions or misunderstandings. If you do not encourage staff meetings once a month, you are holding a time bomb that is ready to explode.

Do you take pride in your office? Your office is an extension of your personality. A warm, inviting experience should be a priority in your office, particularly in the waiting room, because aside from the treatment room, it is the only other room your patient will spend time in. The treatment rooms are also important. Among the five senses, vision and scent are among the most impressionable. Your office should be visually pleasing to the eye and enchanting in scent. All these little details will make a lasting impression about you and your practice.

Click here for more information about Hubert Chang.


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