As I start the early stages of our next book, I’m becoming more and more intrigued by practitioners who grow their practices very quickly. Sometimes it’s right out of the gate, other times they seem to limp along for years, until something changes and they take off.

I think there’s great inspiration in these stories – they’re worth sharing. I’ll break this into at least a couple of parts, with more CAM professions to follow. Regardless of the modality or profession, though, like always the advice is readily transferable.

Many of the people I’ve spoken to were seeing one or two patients a month for a long time, then took off. Take heart… :)

Happy New Year, everyone.

-Dan

Brooke Thomas, Rolfer
New Haven Rolfing

Many of you will know Brooke from this blog, and from our last book. She grew her third practice from zero to 15 clients per week in a month, then went on to start a great program for wellness pros. She’s an amazing model for the power of building a few key relationships.

Specifically the thing that helped the most was by connecting with, and offering free work to, the holistic community in New Haven. There was going to be a lull period of a few weeks before I received my new license to practice in the state of Connecticut, so I couldn’t charge for my work. I figured instead of sitting on my hands, I could put them to use by running what I called my “Help for the Helpers” promotion.

I put out word to the holistic community (mostly by introducing myself to the owners of a couple of big wellness hubs in town- a yoga center and some wellness centers) and let them know that I had this lull where I couldn’t charge.

Lots of people came, many of them are still my long term clients and many have also been my biggest advocates in town. It’s been the best thing I did for sure.

Laura Allen, Massage Therapist
Thera-ssage

Many massage therapists will know Laura. She’s very active in the profession, and very supportive of practitioners. She took her practice from zero to $300,000 a year in 5 years, and put her advice in her book, One Year to a Successful Massage Therapy Practice.

The one thing that makes the biggest difference for me is that I SCHEDULE my marketing time. Every single day I specifically devote a half hour to doing marketing activities for my business. It is scheduled just like a massage appointment.

I might be working up a new ad, calling clients I haven’t seen in a while, sending out birthday cards with a discount coupon, or anything else that seizes me on that day.

Tonia Winchester, ND
Arbour Wellness
Tonia’s first naturopathic practice was, in her words, a “flop.” She was seeing less than two patients a day, on average, but she tripled her practice in a six month period and is still growing steadily.

I followed a link to Brooke’s blog, and really connected with her style and approach.  So in a blink I signed up for her course.

And then did nothing with it until after my wedding.

Then in August 2010 it was like a switched turned on, or the faucet started dripping, and then pouring.  I did the first module of Brooke’s course, she calls it The Cleanse.  The reframe of “my why” was probably the most vital thing I have done in my practice building journey so far. I realized that I don’t NEED patients so I can pay my bills, but I know patients will benefit from my unique, amazing, gifted me.  It would be a pity not to share the goodness that I can bring to the world.

Things were differently immediately.  There is still lots of room for growth, but the trend is stupendous and I know it will continue until I’m at a place where my schedule is filled.  Patients are starting to refer, people who see my talks are starting to book, people who see advertisements for my talks are starting to book.

In sum, in all honestly, my progress has been due to a mental / spiritual re-understanding of my place in this world.

Ann Ross, LMP
Urban Healing Arts Studio

When she first opened her doors, Ann was seeing only 2-3 clients per month. After vowing in the new year of 2006 to make it happen, she grew in that year to 8-15 clients per week, and has grown every year since. She’s now on track to earn six figures this year with the addition of three new therapists to her business. She helps other therapists do the same at her blog Massage Marketing Mentor.

I recommend that therapists team up with other health care providers in attracting clients. If it had not been for renting space within a chiropractic clinic I don’t believe I would have grown my business that quickly.  The exposure I had was incredibly valuable.

Therapists need to seek out relationships with complementary businesses.  Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Yoga Instructors, PT’s, Naturopaths etc. are great resources when looking to gain exposure. I recommend therapists create some type of offer to the customers of the other business.  Because the other business already has created a trusting relationship with their client base, those clients will be more likely to book a massage appointment with the therapist.

I love how each story is a little different. At the end of this series, I’ll share some common threads that I’ve seen.

If you have a story of turning your practice around that you’d like to share, feel free to get in touch – it might seem to you like it’s not important, but you’d be surprised at how one little idea can change someone’s life. – Dan


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