Many small business owners do little to increase their list or reach out to more potential Patients. Some don’t know how to and some feel they shouldn’t have to.
However the reality is that anything which isn’t nurtured will go into decline. For instance, I left strict instructions with my boys when I recently went travelling for four months. I asked them to keep the noise down when they had parties (I am a realist) and to water my two orchids once a week.
When I returned Max had stripped out my despised old green carpets and replaced them with quality beige ones. I was delighted! However, I was horrified to discover that one of my orchids was totally dead in my office window and the other was clinging to life. So whilst there were no police reports waiting for me, they had totally forgotten to give any attention to my plants!
So I’ve carefully watered and nurtured the one that survived and one month later, incredibly and as you can see, it is in full bloom! But the other one is in the bin…
Growth requires energy and nurturing
I was recently teaching at one of the Osteo schools. The class looked a little puzzled as I began talking about marketing on social media. When I asked them what was up, they told me that their tutors had told them that they should never market themselves on social media as it was demeaning!
To say I was flabbergasted is an understatement!
The online world is now an integral part of our lives. And it isn’t going away.
And we’re very lucky to be living in an era where we can get in front of our audience with very little investment too.
3 Key Areas to Focus on for growth
- Invest in continuing education, be it professional or business related. Our modern world is changing rapidly and if our business is to continually thrive, we need to keep abreast of new developments and stay ahead of the curve.
- Raise your prices, confident in the knowledge that you’re a valuable resource for your patients. When I began Osteobiz I wasn’t sure where to pitch my prices; after all my business was unique. However, some who bought in at very low cost didn’t value the content and didn’t do the work. Now that I’ve considerably raised the investment to work with me, Clients do value my courses and coaching, get the work done and grow their lists.
- Market your Clinic relentlessly, demostrating your true value. There is such fear around what to say in self-promotion and it can feel like selling your soul. But ultimately, if people don’t understand how you can help them then they will never book to see you. There are great ways to provide value to your community that don’t come across as salesy but DO elevate you to health professional and expert in your field. And there’s nothing demeaning about that.
Ultimately, to get a business off the ground, build and maintain growth, we’ve got to be totally determined, focused and irrepressible!
Have you got your tickets to my NEW live event on Friday 8 June 2018?
OSTEOBIZ INSPIRATION DAY is all about stoking up your energy and working on some practical ways to increase patient numbers, which you can take home and implement. Plus the day will be interspersed with inspirational Osteopaths sharing their knowledge and experience.
By the end of the day you will:
- Feel rebooted, energised and inspired
- Have a clearer vision of how to create your future success
- Know how to position yourself within your community
- Have some new ways of marketing yourself which your competitors simply aren’t using
The venue is the beautiful 16th century Barn Hotel in Ruislip, West London, next door to Ruislip Underground Station. It is easily accessibly from the M40/M25/M1 and there’s free parking too.
Registration is from 9am, we start at 9.30am and end at 4.30. The VIP Elite Reception begins shortly after.
A hearty lunch is included and all refreshments throughout the day. My aim is to totally spoil you and give you a day of valuable and inspiring CPD (7hrs) like you’ve never had before!
And if you’d like to be further pampered, you can choose the VIP Elite option, with extra goodies and you’ll enjoy a fizz and fun reception from 5pm! Plus you’ll get the chance to have my undivided attention and focus on all your business related questions.
Get your tickets here and take a well-deserved day away from the coal face and return re-energised!
It can feel really icky to stick a price on your skills, expertise and talents.
After all, you most likely didn’t join this profession to make a shed load of money!
Far likelier is that your main driver was that you wanted to make a difference. You wanted to help people in pain to suffer less and recover if possible.
And you loved the idea that you could do all this without drugs and equipment. Instead, you could simply use your hands, your expert knowledge and apply them to each patient.
Ultimately though, when you start practising by yourself the debate begins as to where to place yourself on the scale from cheap to ridiculously expensive!
Are you Prada or Primark?
This is the question I ask Clients who are struggling with price. Where would you like to be on the scale from budget clothing shop Primark to swanky designer label Prada?
Some Osteopaths are charging Prada prices reaching into the hundreds of pounds! How on earth are they getting away with that, I hear you ask!
Well because they provide fantastic service, usually in fabulous surroundings, huge attention is placed on the individual, there is no rushing the patient and their perceived value is enormous as a result. Who knows if they are any more skilled than a new Graduate who has excelled in training?
Earlier this year, one of my VIP Clients, who worked in a gorgeous treatment room and was very experienced, wanted to be busier. He decided without a doubt that he wanted to be closer to Prada pricing! So we aimed him towards the top end of the market, leaving plenty of business for those Practitioners in the area who charged much less. And of course, with the right marketing, he’s now very busy! Win/win!
How can you price yourself correctly?
Because I grew up on a farm and have always loved business, I decided to study Economics at college. The key law was that of supply and demand. As you know, the more demand there is and the lower the availability, the higher the price can go.
So that will be one factor in deciding price. However, another economic factor is, what the target socio-economic group are wiling to pay.
What is not a factor is what price competitors are charging and where you would place yourself on THAT scale! That just leads to everybody’s prices staying lowish! It also is impossible to accurately compare YOUR perception of their skill set to your own.
And why are we comparing ourselves to others anyway? I don’t. I set a fee I know I’m worth to your business and your profits. I put my heart and soul into your growing your business. You put your heart and soul into each patient’s health. What’s that worth to THEM?
It’s helpful to occasionally reflect on this as there are still too many burnt out Osteopaths in this world…
Different prices for Principals and Associates?
This can be a hot potato! I understand the argument that if everyone is charging the same there is no perceived difference in competence and skill.
But I do have an argument for raising the prices of the Principals. In trying to help Associates to be busier, a lower price can encourage those with lower budgets to book in and be seen. It gives greater choice to the patient and naturally spreads the load. The Principal is also not over-booked and is afforded precious time to be allocated towards marketing and business development. But earnings are not reduced.
I have encouraged this with several of my Clients and it has worked a treat. Initially, they are not keen for the reasons mentioned earlier. Some have even found that patients will travel huge distances especially to be treated by them too!
However, this also translates into increased earnings and they are not left exhausted after another week rammed full of patients! It gives them an opportunity to continually review and improve business practices and evaluate how they operate in the community.
For me, that makes sound and healthy business sense.
Working with me as a VIP Client is the fastest way to increased patient bookings and an optimised Osteobiz.
Is 2018 the year you finally flourish and thrive?
Check out more information here
Book in for a free consultation to see what’s best in your case
I’m sitting here looking at the Groupon website. I don’t ever come here but I have heard rumblings that Osteopaths are selling their beautiful souls to this cut price deal site.
I searched for many major cities. There they are. Struggling Osteopaths chasing new patients. Their highly skilled hands and expert knowledge being sold for a pittance. My heart feels heavy indeed.
Honestly, I could weep – this is a travesty!
How desperate must they be to discount their fees to just a few quid? How empty must their diaries be? How tricky must the bill paying be? And how worried must they be?
Discounting to this degree is not a business strategy. People on discount websites only want the buzz of the deal. They can’t bear to pay full price. Indeed the Old Boy is just like this. He gets staff discount of 25% off at John Lewis so if something he wants isn’t sold there and he can’t get it cheap on ebay, he won’t buy it! You should have seen him going mental the other evening when he bagged a new golf driver for two thirds of its retail price. He was literally squealing with excitement!
Groupon is not a solution!
Groupon is a great concept if you’re a savvy little bargain hunter. But Osteopathic treatment for less than twenty quid? The psychology of the Groupon hunter is such that it is unlikely that they will happily pay full price.
And what does that mean?
It means that they are highly unlikely to come back, even if they need to. Their wallet will remain tightly closed. Because generally it’s all about the thrill of the chase and of money SAVED and not about their health and well being. They love ‘mates rates’, bartering, haggling and discounts. Pay full price? You must be joking mate!
Always focus on your Perfect Patient
You know the ones. They adore you. They thank you profusely for how you’ve helped them. They would probably even pay you double. Why? Because they VALUE you and what you do. There are always more of them to be found if you know where to look and how to attract their attention in an ethical and energetically sound manner.
As I always say, if you’re not busy it’s not your fault. You weren’t taught strategic marketing. But it is your fault if you don’t get sound marketing training and continue to fail to serve your community properly. If you are not getting the word out about how effective Osteopathic treatment is, people will remain uninformed and in pain. And, by the way, leaflets and adverts don’t cut it any more!
The world has moved on from ‘spray and pray marketing’. Why? Because both online and offline our worlds are pretty crazy. So much stuff is vying for our attention that our over-stimulated brains have to filter most of it out. We only have enough mental bandwidth to deal with a certain amount of information at any one time.
So if your message is weak or not accurately targeted it will not be noticed. Simple as that.
So how do you avoid the Groupon way?
For anyone in business who just doesn’t have enough custom, there must be a decent strategy in place. Rather than discounting as a way forwards, confident marketing about the BENEFITS of Osteopathic treatment is critical.
I have had many Clients come to me, investing in their future Osteobiz because they know that treating four or five patients a month isn’t sustainable. Some are sitting amongst literally thousands of people doing very physical and stressful work. And yet they have no custom. And it’s only because their message isn’t right.
Thankfully, rather than turning to Groupon they turned to me and saw the value of investing in some focused strategies with fresh and unique ideas. I constantly study marketing, soak up information like inky blotting paper and have invested thousands of pounds with my own business coach. This has ensured that my business model helps those with little spare cash right up to those who want to seriously expand their Practice.
There’s a time and place for promotion but Groupon isn’t it!
There is ALWAYS more to learn and the advancement of technology means that there are constantly new ways to market our businesses. I have even invested in a totally automated system to deliver my online courses so that they are accessible anywhere in the world. That means that I can immediately start helping a struggling Osteopath in Australia the minute they sign up, automatically give them access to the course materials, whilst I remain asleep! How amazing is that?
By staying on top of changes, I ensure that my Clients get best advice and NEW ways of growing their businesses that others are oblivious to. That means that hundreds of global Clients are now bombing along with full diaries and expanding patient lists. It is truly thrilling to watch the transformations.
So should you know of an Osteopath who wants to be busier, guide them away from Groupon and towards my new club Osteobiz Inner Circle as a starting point. For just a tenner per month, they can start to turn things around, fill their diaries and begin their journey to Osteobiz success!
Swat your competitors!
In my day to day work with my beloved Osteopaths, we always begin the process by nailing down who their Perfect Patient is.
For some this is obvious; the female horse lover who wants to keep her trusty steed in tip top health. Or the athletic guy who wants to recover fast from the trauma his body suffers from the high impact sports he plays.
But some who are struggling with not being optimally booked, still can resist my plea to specialise. Their websites try to speak to everyone across the board but end up being arid and devoid of personality. Newsletters, if they are being sent at all, are dull and bland and guaranteed to remain unopened in their recipients’ inboxes.
My own example explains and illustrates the principles of this idea extremely well. For years I have hoovered up knowledge about clever ways to market businesses and I have completed many books, online courses and 1:1 coaching sessions with mentors. I am well equipped to pass on this vital knowledge to any small business anywhere in the world.
But how do I market that and how many competitors would I have?
It’s such a vague claim that my words would resonate with very few and I would soon go hungry! I could hone it down to ‘body workers or therapists’, which is still pretty vague but I might do slightly better than before. But getting in front of everyone from Massage Therapists right through to Reiki practitioners, Beauticians and Osteopaths might well cost me much in time, energy and money.
Then there’s the language I use in my marketing materials. Trying to appeal to Chiropractors and Beauticians in one breath wouldn’t necessarily work. Not least because they tend to be very different beasts!
So whilst I could teach my stuff to any small business, I choose to place all my time, energy and money on getting in front of Osteopaths and being specific about how I can help.
Understanding your quarry
Once you fully understand who you are marketing towards, you will know where to find them both online and off. And then it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and get in front of them.
Because if you don’t tell them about the benefits to them of Osteopathic treatments, they will never become your Patients.
A few surprising byproducts
Out goes the general adverts, random leaflet drops and bland website content. By focusing on one type of Perfect Patient at a time, you will become the ‘go to’ expert. And who wouldn’t rather go to a specialist rather than a generalist? And who wouldn’t pay a little extra to get expert help? That’s right; no more discounting of fees. There’s also the benefit of your Patients’ appreciation of your understanding and ability to make a significant difference in their lives. I know of Osteopaths whose reputation is so fantastic that people will even fly in from other countries just to be treated by them personally. How awesome is that?
And that’s how your status begins to be elevated too. Will a golfer appreciate going to an Osteopath who really understands him and the game rather than a general therapist? Given the choice, would a worried mother choose a specialist in Paediatric Osteopathy rather than a generalist? I know I would! Of course it never means that you turn away any other kind of patients. It just means that the effort you put in to your marketing actually brings results.
In my own example, I receive many replies to my newsletters giving me further encouragement in my work. I hear from lots of Osteopaths who want to keep in touch and have plans to include me in their future growth. Because I have niched and listened to what you need, I have got to the point where I don’t have a single competitor. Not one. Because I am not like anybody else. I do not work like anybody else and I have a very clear idea of how I want to work and with whom. My Clients are such a joy to work with that it’s a misnomer to call it ‘work’.
So similarly, if you promote your expert talents effectively and demonstrate your Osteopathic genius you will simultaneously kill your competitors stone dead!
One of my son’s friends has always been a bit of a cheeky chappy. He’s not a bad lad but he has pushed the boundaries at school, let’s say. Now that they’ve done their A Levels they’re off out in the local bars where their mates also hang out.
Sometimes, they go a little too far and drink a little too much. But many of us can look back and remember that we also had one or two evenings like that in our youth.
However, late one night the lad in question did have one too many and whilst walking the last part home, stupidly managed to irritate a motorist. The driver was angry and gave chase and the lad tried to hide and call the police for help.
But when the police arrived, they threw him to the floor and arrested him. Believing that he was the victim here, he resisted and gave them some unsavoury verbal including a racially unacceptable word against the Asian arresting officer. Clearly he had managed to make a bad situation much, much worse.
Having been charged on several counts, he went before the magistrate’s court but he was advised to plead not guilty. A year went by and after several court appearances, he ended up in front of the judge. Despite the fact that he is not the criminal type and that he had sincerely apologised to the policeman concerned, who had accepted it, and despite the fact that the prosecution had recommended only a hefty fine, the judge had his own agenda. He decided that a prison sentence was in order. All other charges had been dropped along the way. So it all boiled down to one small but offensive word.
Not criminal damage. Not fraud. Not assault against a frail person. One wrongly chosen word used in anger against a person trying to arrest him by a young man who was drunk.
The judge had a problem though. He wanted to teach this whipper snapper a lesson and put the lad into a prison with real offenders; but he was about to go on holiday.
The judge went against all advice and put the lad under house arrest with a ‘tracker’ on his ankle and a curfew of 9pm-6am. The judge went on his holiday. So after a year of court appearances, police time and the expenses of the tracker and its fitting, a sentence was still not given.
This story illustrates very well how a relatively small misdemeanour or poor choice of action can result in a seemingly inappropriate punishment.
I’m currently researching the advertising guidelines and rules relating to banned words on websites and advertising pamphlets. My findings so far are not pretty and I shall be reporting back to you in due course.
Indeed, this thorny subject is part of the workshop that I’ve been asked to run by the British School of Osteopathy in London on 7 September this year.
The recurring issue, as you all know, is that of evidence based proof that osteopathy is effective. You might agree with me that double-blind trials are a ridiculous notion. It seems to me that the only way to prove that osteopathy makes a difference is to let me ‘treat’ a patient and then you treat the same patient! But that’s just me and my silly common sense!!
I do wonder, however, how prestigious schools of osteopathy and well-regarded public universities can be allowed to teach people to practice osteopathy and even present them with a Masters; or train them specifically in post-graduate in paediatric treatment in an accredited establishment by highly skilled and experienced teachers and then the powers that be say you’re not allowed to tell people exactly what you have been trained to do whilst you were there!
And quite possibly the language used within that training is not allowed to be used in the advertising of those skills. I cannot comprehend such utter nonsense.
It seems to me that in both these cases, the common denominators are evidence and language. Too much in the first case and not enough in the second.
Please do leave your thoughts in the comments box as to how we might tackle this to everyone’s advantage.
Working 10-13 hours per day and six days per week? Feeling snowed under with paperwork, reports to GPs, book-keeping, family demands? Wondering how you’ve gone from building a nice busy Practice to an out of control hamster wheel from hell? Is your body starting to complain about the emotional, psychological and physical stress that it’s under these days? Does this sound like you?
I have discovered an undercurrent of Clinicians working endless hours and often squeezing ‘just one more’ patient into their already bulging day. With patients often divulging their difficulties, Osteopaths are not only dealing with the physical stress of treatment but also the emotional stress brought on by a non-stop deluge of other people’s outpourings.
Discussions going on in my LinkedIn Osteobiz Group are uncovering a hidden and endemic situation. Because Osteopathy is a ‘time for money’ business, income is limited by the hours in the day. But what has startled me is the ironic phenomenon of Osteopaths so burdened by overwork that they are becoming ill. Daily, I am hearing stories of well-known and senior Osteopaths ending up with stress, overwhelm and debilitating back problems themselves.
Cases of ME, chronic fatigue and acute fibromyalgia are all common results of the workaholic Osteopath. Paradoxically, this is getting to such an extreme that the Practitioner is ending up slashing their work week in half or even closing down their business in order to save their sanity. Such are the pressures of endlessly working as many as 60-80 hours per week – sometimes spread across two Clinics!
The stress isn’t just left at work either; back at home tiredness is putting pressure on both family and relationships, sometimes causing problems in marriages as the other party is left ‘holding the baby’ and feeling like a single parent. Following a marathon 12 hour day, it must be equally tough to arrive home to an eagerly expectant and boisterous young family who are wanting to go ten rounds before bed time.
Perhaps more needs to be done at graduation to warn against this common reality. Some Graduates are being taught that they should aim to treat a minimum of 15 patients per day. Sometimes there’s the expectation that this figure must be exceeded in order to be deemed ‘successful’. One young Graduate tells me that she’s working four days in her own fledgling Practice and three days as an Associate, involving much additional travel too.
Another lady who’s given up two successful Clinics to try and regain her health said, “I am so pleased that there is a voice out there to represent us, and to be a pause for thought in Osteopathy… on what seems to be a bit of a taboo subject.”
Stepping off the hamster wheel
So how can we, as business owners, (because that’s what we all are here!) protect ourselves from overwork?
As an Osteobiz Coach I look at each situation, see what isn’t working and find solutions to fix it. I believe that the ‘Lone Ranger’ syndrome is one of the main problems here. This is the curse of the sole practitioner where he believes that he must do everything himself from book-keeping and updating the website to cleaning the clinic.
Sadly, Tonto isn’t going to come and save anyone from this overwhelmingly long day!
These days help can be sought from an efficient online Virtual Assistant (VA) for less than £25 per hour. With treatment hourly rates worth at least double, surely it’s a no brainer to hand all that tedious ‘stuff’ to an expert who will get it done in a fraction of the time we spend fussing over figures and crying into our early morning porridge!
VA’s specialise in many different areas from website builders and leaflet designers, to book-keepers and even professional telephone answering services. It’s more cost effective than hiring staff too as you remain in control, it’s a tax deductible expense and stress free. Win, win!
Touchy Subject Alert!
We know that price is subject to supply and demand. So where there is ridiculous demand then the price is clearly wrong! I hear the objections coming at me like machine gun bullets already but honestly I promise that loyal fans will not leave! If some are not so keen to pay what the service is worth, then recommend them to a fledgling colleague in the locality. It’s the best way to reclaim some time.
Another aspect of pricing is where a Practice has an across the board policy. I don’t know any other profession where the same fee is paid no matter the experience of the provider. Quite frankly that makes as much sense as going to an expensive hairdressers and having the junior chop away at our hair! The GoSC tell me that different fees are allowed in the same Practice as long as you, “make information available, in advance of consultations and treatments, about the fees you charge, indicating what each fee covers. Any supplements should be proportionate and transparent.”
Scaled fees take the pressure off at the top and allows a patient to choose by price if that’s an issue for him. The workload is more fairly spread and the junior Osteopath takes the overload. Also, never compare fees with others in the area because they’re probably also undercharging! But that’s their business.
Looking at the year ahead, schedule in regular breaks. Decide annual income required and divide by 11 for a monthly target. Now there’s a built in month of guilt-free time off!
Spot when the diary is getting overloaded on a regular basis and consider hiring an Associate. Offload the least complex cases and cherry pick the cases that are more challenging.
Schedule in small breaks to the day; take a brisk walk and get some fresh air, relax with some gentle music and a herbal tea or do some stretching and deep breathing. It is really vital to care for ourselves first and foremost. Those endless back to back appointments will ultimately come back to bite hard!
The Secret Internal War
It’s as if there’s an internal and secret war going on for Osteopaths who are victims of their own success. The high and noble goal of healing, battles with the relatively distasteful and ugly matter of removing cash from the wallets of the suffering. That clash could be one of the reasons for not charging properly. But correct pricing automatically regulates an oversubscribed service.
At the outset of a career, surely nobody thinks, ‘Oh great, now I can embark on my journey towards the mad hamster wheel of meltdown and exhaustion.’ That’s no vision for a happy life so we must remember we are business owners too and make some sensible provision for our own health and well being.
And for goodness sakes, every month let’s go and see the best Osteopath we can afford, before they put their prices up…