An Interview with Caitlin Gordon of Amaluna Wellness
We created Clinic Spotlight to share real-world examples of what all TCM clinics are going through as they work to grow their business and improve their patient’s experience.
The following Clinic Spotlight is a transcribed interview with Caitlin Gordon. A solo practitioner and owner of Amaluna Acupuncture and Wellness which integrates both Eastern and Western styles. Caitlin’s clinic is located in Boulder, CO.
Amaluna Acupuncture and Wellness streamlines their practice using Unified Practice’s acupuncture software.
What are some of the key things you’ve done or developed that resulted in improving the business side of your clinic?
Caitlin Gordon: I put in place everything I thought would help me run my practice more smoothly. For example, online scheduling and an EMR saved me a ton of time. Also, a billing system which can also take up a lot of time.
Having all of these things in place along with a professional website I think built a lot of patient trusts and was a huge part in them coming back for treatments. It creates a professional setting which again, builds trust.
Also, providing handouts about treatment plans…this makes patients feel like they are participating in their process.
What are the key lessons that have transformed the way you practice or work with your patients?
Caitlin Gordon: Shifting my mindset from being attached to the outcome of treatments and their healing process to more of a place where I am still wanting the best outcome but coming from a place of providing tools to patients so that they are vested in their own healing process.
Also, creating a little emotional space between what a patient can do and their actual commitment to their healing process. This allowed me to enjoy more what I was doing, helps avoid burning out and puts less pressure on the actual treatment.
What are the three most challenging aspects of running or growing your acupuncture practice and how did you overcome them?
Caitlin Gordon: Challenge #1: Getting new patients in the door.
Some steps I took to bring new patients in were:
Deciding to be on insurance panels.
Having a professional, well-done website. I wrote a blog post every week. Because of this my SEO [search engine optimization] organically improved significantly.
Challenge #2: Figuring out what my business hours should be…when I wanted to be in my clinic. I began thinking about this as a question: if I were as busy as I wanted to be, what would my ideal schedule look like? From there I assessed when I thought people would want to come and go and then built my schedule around those two things.
I also realized it’s not good to be available all the time, even if you really are. I began grouping appointments so that they weren’t spread out over an entire day but rather closer together.
It was important for me to not work Fridays – Fridays serve as a day off or as a time for me to catch up on administrative work (I don’t do administrative work on days that I see patients).
Challenge #3: Follow-up care…how to convey care outside of an acupuncture session. I’m still working on this but what I’ve done so far is create templates for follow-up emails that discuss diet and herb recommendations. It has been helpful to have an outline that I’m able to easily send out after the patient’s initial session.
What are some mistakes you made along the way?
Caitlin Gordon: Thinking that I should see patients whenever they wanted to come in.
This was just not a good use of time. Patients should be scheduled during times that are close to each other.
Putting pressure on myself to do marketing that doesn’t align with my personality. I would rather crawl into a hole than do a networking event and speak to people I don’t know. At a certain point, I accepted that every marketing tool can be helpful. I decided to only do marketing that felt good – there are a lot of ways to get the word out about a practice.
I learned to ask permission before offering advice or writing a 3-page email!
Along with this, I always start by telling people what they are doing well.
There were obscure licenses I needed for where I practice. in hindsight I could have done more research to find out which local tax licenses were necessary.
I learned that it’s OK to start my rates lower and increase them as my treatments improved, which is what I’ve done.
Packages: I should have started offering them from the beginning.
Having a fee schedule for everyone, even family and friends. Having fees standardized is a huge help, especially when it comes to giving discounts. Lastly, utilizing the Acupuncture Business Academy Facebook Group was a huge help while building my practice.
What advice would you give a practitioner that is just starting their clinic?
Caitlin Gordon: To have a secondary source of income when you’re starting – It’s just too stressful not to.
To create some sort of structure with your time even if you don’t have one already.
An example of this is to not take the work home from the clinic. This can potentially affect relationships and other areas of life. When you’re starting a business, you have to create balance.
Time – know that building your practice is going to take time. Time to get the word out, to improve your site, for you to get referrals, etc.
This is why having a secondary source of income is so important. It allows you to stick it out while your practice is gradually building.
Taking insurance is tedious and very detail oriented – It’s important to consider this when deciding on whether or not you want to take insurance.
We thank Caitlin Gordon for taking the time to be our first guest in the Clinic Spotlight interviews and we wish her continued success with her clinic.
Stay tuned for more Clinic Spotlight interviews where we’ll discuss what lessons, tactics, marketing tools other clinics are using to grow their TCM and acupuncture practice.