Establishing Your Client/Healer Relationships

Female business women greeting each other in office lobby.
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In today's harried and hurried world so cluttered with information, how can practitioners in mind, body, spirit businesses find their customers? And, as customers, with so many new modalities being introduced, how do you find the right one for you? Let's look at the problem from both sides: the business owner and the consumer.

Small business owners in the holistic healing field have much of their time consumed by providing products and services and keeping their businesses running.

As entrepreneurs, they don't always have time to work on increasing their client base and improving profitability. Yet, seeking new business is critical to developing the business. There are shelves full of books, many seminars, and lots of marketing experts around who have grand plans to help increase business. We have all heard it before, do the research, determine the demographics, and analyze the market including the competition. Lots and lots of planning is recommended before you consider what your message will be. Once you have all your homework done, (about a year later) you can run an advertisement, build a Web site, or attend a conference or expo.

Providers Finding Clients

The holistic community and mind, body, spirit companies are typically small proprietorships. They don't have advertising budgets to become household names like Coca Cola. For the consumer, selecting a practitioner is a very personal choice.

In the end, it's all about relationship. It is about who YOU feel comfortable spending time with, in what is really a unique relationship.

There are more ways for a practitioner to get their name out there--without breaking the bank--than you might think. Here are two that should net additional awareness resulting in new clients/income quickly:

  1. If you are working in a commercial building, be sure you have a sign that tells who you are. Be sure it is representative of your business and that it can easily be seen by traffic driving past. Ideally it should be lit at night. Take the time to work with the building owner and the city/town to establish a presence in your business neighborhood. You need to be seen, remembered and recognized.
  2. Establish a client referral program. There are no better sales people than your existing clients. For this idea to be effective, you need to provide real value for someone to spend time promoting your business. An effective client referral program provides equal benefits to both the existing client and the friend/relative of the client. Offer coupons or gift certificates for the new client to receive an introductory service for free. The existing client also receives the same level of service for each new client that he/she refers who makes/keeps an appointment. The key is to provide an introductory service (it doesn't have to be an entire free session). In the case of massage, perhaps you could offer a 20 minute free introductory session to the first-time client, and the existing client gets a bonus 20 minutes in their next session. The cost of implementing this program is your time and a bit of effort to create the coupons. Here is an idea, put the offer on your business or appointment cards to save money.

    How to Choose a Practitioner

    Searching for specific modalities in search engines, like Google, will usually bring you to association websites that have many links to local businesses. Another great source is metaphysical book stores. There is usually a corner devoted to practitioners where you can pick up business cards for the service you want. Also, attend expos and festivals. There are more and more expos that showcase mind, body, spirit businesses where you can meet and sample many products/services from businesses in your area.

    Once you've collected business cards or brochures and you feel ready to narrow down your choices. It's easier than you might think! Call and ask them to tell you about their services. You're not being pushy or wasting their time. Ask them what their specialty is, they should be happy to tell you where their expertise lies.

    Tell them briefly the reason for your interest and ask if they've had experience in your area of concern. Don't waste their time with unnecessary chat, but spend enough time to feel comfortable taking the next step of making an appointment. Don't be afraid to ask if they have first time client discounts or introductory offers. Ultimately, it is all about relationship--your instincts will tell you if this is the right person for you.

    These are just a few of the ways we can find each other. As we move through time there will be more and better alternatives to mind, body, and spirit health. Companies who sponsor expos provide a great service to bring the practitioner community and consumers together in a holistic supermarket where the products and services can be evaluated, considered, bought and sold in a face-to-face environment. The Internet helps give us information and resources to help along the way.

    Biography:

    Dianne McDermott is a Shamballa Reiki master and is certified in Advanced Usui Reiki Level 3 with more than 10 years experience in the Usui tradition. In addition to practicing the Inca Medicine traditions, she uses Eastern medicines and philosophies in a holistic approach to healing in her Shamballa Reiki teaching company, Shamballa Spirit.