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Acupuncture Today
July, 2011, Vol. 12, Issue 07
 
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Attract and Retain Loyal Patients

By Anne C. Crowley, LAc, DiplAc, MBA

We are taught how to be great healers and connect with people over and over in school. Once we begin to treat people, a special bond forms and our healing skills are brought to another. Somehow when we go to convey that message to a prospective patient, we get tripped up.

We are taught to be humble, we are here to serve. However, our service will be limited if we cannot build and maintain a healthy practice. Attracting patients does not come easy for a lot of us; however, once we get used to talking with prospective patients, it can be quite simple. Let's start.

Building Your Inner Confidence

You simply must be convinced that you can help a patient beyond a shadow of a doubt. Are you the best practitioner for them to see? I don't know, but they called you and you have something to offer. The Dali Lama may be the best practitioner for them to see. You are here, and he is not. Focus on that. If they really seem like they are not a good fit for you, you can make a referral; but not so fast. Assume everyone is a good fit and go from there. From the moment you pick up the phone, exude your confidence. Think about the three years you spent in school, endless tiring days, endless money spent; not only in school, but in continuing education to do the work you love. You can help them, and they are just waiting for you to tell them how.

Conveying Confidence

When I return a call, I often start with, "Nice to connect with you. Are there some questions you have for me?" Make sure you get them talking about their problem. Let the prospective patient know how you can help –how you can help them, not the kitchen sink approach. Relate how you have helped others with similar situations – no guarantees, but lots of success.

Many of us are trained very well at looking at the deeper level of a patient's imbalance. The minute you start talking to a prospective patient, do this. When you get to the deeper need, the one below the surface, you can connect with them on how you can help. Such needs as safety, security, trust, understanding and results may be what the patient is actually looking for. When you pick up on this need, focus on how you can fill it. These are areas I cover in my workshops and my coaching.

Know Your Value

No matter how fresh out of school, no matter what techniques others know, you have unique gifts to offer. Please understand your value. We all have different skill levels and unique things we are good at. You have value to bring anyone in their healing journey. Many of us know people in our community that have developed a serious condition that our work could have helped to prevent. The work we do can increase someone's odds and if nothing else, give them a comfortable life until they get "the call."

You are trustworthy. You have excellent training and are compassionate and caring. Your website, word of mouth, or other method of drawing a patient to you has already conveyed a level of trust. Keep that in mind as you are speaking to them.

You will invariably get the question of "how long will it take?" The classic answer is, "depends on you as an individual and where you are with your condition." Then you get asked, "On average how long does it take?" I often offer a sample treatment plan at this point. Others may tell you differently, but I do this.

Make sure to show your findings after the first treatment. Then continue to offer progress reports either verbally or in writing. People like to know what we are finding. Couch it in the light of "we can really work with this," but offer what you are finding. They want to know.

It is important to communicate the three levels of healing: symptoms, underlying cause of symptoms, deeper core factors that help you manifest more of what you want in life – less stress, better relationships, achieving goals more easily and smoothly.

The Investment

The ultimately question you will hear is "how much?" Well, how much is living a balanced, centered, vitalized, healthy life is worth? "Take my house," I would say. It is really everything and the treatments we offer can bring people so much. State your rates confidently – emphasize the investment in their health – just like a retirement investment. There are ways to make the cash flow simpler for patients that can take that immediate concern away. The real issue is conveying the investment in their health.

Marketing Techniques. Marketing techniques are important. The particular techniques you employ will be consistent with your level of comfort, your budget, and how you want to get your message across. These can range from word of mouth, talks, social marketing and of course, the magic website. All of the points we mentioned above will still be needed. It can all be done, while putting you on the road to helping more people and maintaining a viable, healthy practice.


Anne C. Crowley has been practicing acupuncture in Southern Maryland for nine years. She was a Professor of Economics and Management at the College of Southern Maryland for nine years. Prior to teaching, she was an operations and financial analyst and manager in the business world for 10 years. She holds an MBA from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Masters of Acupuncture from TAI-SOPHIA. She offers workshops and consulting on successful practice management and achieving life goals. She can be reached at www.LaPlataAcupuncture.com; , and on Facebook: LaPlata Acupuncture and Healing Arts Fan Page; Serenity Solutions: Holistic Life Coaching Fan Page.

 

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