After receiving my Masters degree in traditional Chinese medicine, I was excited and ready to open my own practice. Armed with my needles and a single treatment table, I had only to locate a space from which to work.
My goal was to help people improve their health and the more individuals I could help, the better. I would book appointments and fill my schedule, treating one patient after another until it was time to go home for the day.
It wasn’t long until I realized that no matter what I did, I couldn’t fit in any more people during business hours. I had hit my daily patient load maximum. The vast potential of sharing acupuncture with the entire world had reached a bottleneck. And that bottleneck was me.
Looking back, I’ve come to realize that I was running a one-dimensional practice. I was focused on bringing a single service to the community and nothing more. I rarely prescribed herbal formulations and I didn’t have a store in my clinic. There was nothing in my practice that would help people other than having them come in to see me for treatment. Plus, I wasn’t sharing the other wonderful aspects of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that I so loved and enjoyed.
A well-rounded acupuncture business sells both services and products. Both services and products may not be required for a successful practice, but a balanced practice has so much more growth potential and can reach further into the surrounding community.
Many of my colleagues do not sell or carry products in their clinics. Product sales was not something that received much attention in our TCM education and the ideas subsequently received little attention in clinical practice.
I’ve got 4 reasons why product sales should be a part of every acupuncturist’s repertoire.
1.Supplement Your Income — As acupuncturists, we not only want to help people, we also want to be successful in order to KEEP helping people. Earning enough money to pay the bills is the only way to stay in business. Why not give yourself every opportunity for multiple income streams? A clinic storefront doesn’t have to be stocked with every herbal product in existence. You can pick and choose the products that complement your practice and share them with your customer base. Start small. Also, many herbal distributors will ship products directly to your customers! This keeps your overhead costs low and improves your bottom line with less effort on your part.
2.Become an advocate for reputable traditional Chinese medicine — By carrying products in your clinic, you are promoting another facet of TCM. Well-manufactured, high quality products can be buried in the myriad of choices available to the average consumer. With your knowledge and expertise, you can filter through the various brands of herbal medicinals for discerning patients. Consequently, you are adding value to your patient visits and reinforcing your reputation as a practitioner.
3.Enhance the acupuncture treatment — Carry products that complement the style of acupuncture and the demographic you generally treat. By doing so, you allow yourself more tools to improve patient results.
4.Empower the patient — One of the most valuable things you can do for a patient is to help him or her take charge of their own health. By arming patients with products that they can use at home and incorporate into their daily routine, you are encouraging a healthy lifestyle. The repetition of good habits naturally lead to a higher percentage of positive outcomes. When patient compliance goes up, so do success rates.
If you’re already carrying products in your acupuncture clinic, great! If not, you should really consider this to be an integral part of a well-rounded clinical practice. With little investment, you can leverage the power of herbal medicine to complement the power of the needle and boost your success rates, reach more patients, and spread the word of Chinese medicine further than you’ve ever thought possible!