Business Fact: Approximately 50% of patients come from outside events, compared to 10% from walk-ins and yellow page ads. And the remaining 40% come from referrals.
Most professionals enter the wellness field out of the passion to help people. However, having purpose and a plan is paramount for turning such passion into a successful wellness center, which will truly improve people's lives while providing you with financial security. In today's fitness-conscious world, many are in despair about their health problems, whether it is headaches, digestive problems, hormone imbalances, weight problems, fatigue, mood swings and so on. Some of your potential customers don't even know they can be helped, while others may get caught up in the medical maze of tests and medications, which often leaves them with side effects and causes even more confusion. To reach these potential clients, get out of the security of your wellness and fitness facility and into the community. Now that you have developed the systems for the daily operations of your wellness center, you can be confident enough to leave the facility in order to tackle in-person marketing.
The First Step: Marketing Your Center
A cost-effective form of marketing can be done through personal relations via public speaking, involvement in the community and health evaluations at health clubs, professional groups, organizations and corporations. Such an approach adds a personal touch and allows you to reach a large number of people in a short period of time all of whom are potential customers. To show the actual business payoff, for example, at my facility, we do roughly two health screenings, lectures or health fairs per month, which mostly only costs us our time. However, getting the new client through the door of your wellness center should not be the only goal. Once your services have attracted these potential customers, implementing a solid introductory plan for these new clients or patients will be essential in not only retaining their patronage, but also ensure correct programming for all of
their health needs, producing the important retention factor for your wellness center.
Personalization is key! By knowing your clients first in the community, by the time they visit the facility, you and your staff will be familiar with them, making these new customers feel welcome. In addition, reception décor is essential in setting the tone of the wellness center as well as making your clients comfortable. Moreover, this personalization approach should not only extend to your interior decorating, but to your customer service as well. It is important to give one-on-one attention from the very first visit, giving the right first impression. Sit with your clients, and bring the necessary paperwork to them. Personally explain every part of the forms for clarification. Providing amenities, like a children's area in clear view of the reception room and offering complimentary beverages, such as bottled water, can be the extra touches that will stick in your customers' minds.
The Education Begins
It is essential for clients to understand what your wellness center does, what your goals are and what they, as a customer, can expect in the treatment process. Beginning this education process can start with individual appointments for testing and reporting of findings. As a wellness and fitness professional, it is also important to understand what your patients'/clients' goals are. Therefore, during the first visit, have your clients read pamphlets on what you're going to be looking for in the initial meeting and share some information on the adverse effects of stress on their health. Also, this is an opportune time to have an in-depth consultation to determine what the patient's main concerns are about his or her own wellness.
The key to a good consultation is to listen attentively to the client and to ask questions. The less you talk, the better. Start by explaining the exam and fitness testing process, and re-explain the informational pamphlets that were read prior to the consult so the client is completely aware of what you are looking for and what normal levels of heath are. Everything should be explained to the client so there are no surprises, including finances for the day. After this initial consultation, schedule follow-up appointments with the client to review the consultation findings and to discuss further program options to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
We are in the information age, and therefore, people are more informed than ever. So in today's health market, the idea is to educate our patients/clients so they can make informed decisions regarding their health care choices. Given this approach to treatment, provide the client additional pamphlets on his/her health and, specifically, how the body is made to function. On the back of these pamphlets, make sure there are some true-or-false questions, which the client should answer before meeting with his or her case manager. In this private meeting, the case manager should review any of the informational pamphlets that the client has been given and should answer any questions or concerns before the client sees the doctor. Always remember to extend invitations to attend any workshops, fitness classes or seminars that you offer at the wellness center, especially encouraging your present clients to bring a guest (could be a spouse, friend, family member, etc.). This will not only encourage these present clients to take advantage of the other services that your center provides, but will also give you another opportunity to educate more people who are high-quality referrals.
With the final appointment of the consultation process, the client should meet with the medical professional who will be directing his or her health program. Once again, the client should be given pamphlets that outline all the information that the doctor will discuss. Preparing your customers will increase their understanding as well as put them at ease. These pamphlets can inform clients on topics such as types of care, x-rays or health-related information on fitness. Such topics are very important for clients to understand because many people are not aware of the benefits or consequences of their lifestyle decisions or that they do, in fact, have a choice in being healthy. Ultimately, by educating your clients, you place your clients' health (once they have all the information and are properly informed) back into their hands.
Go over each pamphlet in detail, and point out the components that most apply to your client. Often times, people will misread information, so reviewing these pamphlets will help to decrease miscommunication between what clients need to know and what they think they read. Once you have reviewed all this information with the client as well as answered all general questions, go over the client's exam and fitness testing results. Now, since you have already educated your clients on the normal levels of health as well as the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle, they have a benchmark to compare their results. Therefore, with these results, clients now know the state of their health (mild, moderate, severe) and are able to make an informed decision as to what they want to do about it.
The Correction Begins
Effectively introducing your potential clients to all the services that your wellness center has to offer while also learning about what that customer needs from you is a crucial foundation in not only bringing your clients through the door the first time but in ensuring that they will keep coming back. Once your customers understand how they can improve their lives and bodies, simply review their plans, and let them know how much it will cost. At this time, you handle the finances involved, get a commitment and deliver the results you promise.
Look for the ninth and final installment of our 9-part Wellness Center Development series in the November-December issue, covering the evaluation of the wellness center.
Dr. Wayne C. Starin received his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic. For more information, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.