Welcome back everyone!
Today I’m so excited to interview the effervescent Clara Cohen, licensed acupuncturist, doctor of Chinese medicine, and founder of AcuPro Academy.
Clara is one of my favorite superwomen. Aside from running a successful practice, she writes all the content for the courses on AcuPro Academy and she teaches Chinese medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in British Columbia.
AcuPro Academy is a continuing education website for acupuncturists. It’s amazing not only because Clara is tons of fun, but also because she offers quite a bit of the content for FREE.
I encourage you to check it out because Clara is not only a brilliant diagnostician and a phenomenal marketer, her teaching style is enthusiastic and effervescent. You’ll have fun learning!
AcuPro Academy has both TCM diagnosis courses as well as practice-building courses, and today (of course) we’re going to focus on the courses that help you build a successful practice.
Clara offers a 7-Day Business Challenge (free again!) to help you re-book existing patients, get more patients in the door, and learn about the yin and yang of running an acupuncture practice. That’s what I’m excited to pick her brain about today.
Let’s talk with Clara!
Where did you go to school?
In Vancouver, Canada, at the International College of TCM of Vancouver (ICTCMV), and I did a five-year program at the doctorate level.
How did you get into acupuncture?
How much time do you have? Hahaha 🙂
I was born in France and my family used chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, physiotherapy and massage as our main healing sources. When, I moved to Canada, I worked in the fitness industry for 15 years, but eventually didn’t feel challenged enough, so I decided to go back to school.
I wanted to keep helping people with their health. It took me a while to make up my mind between Naturopathic Medicine and TCM. Today, I can safely say I made the right choice for me. I completely fell in love with Chinese medicine within the first three weeks of school.
Where is your private practice? How long have you been there?
In Port Moody, a small community just outside of Vancouver. I’ve been here since 2008 and own (with a friend of mine) a large wellness center. We offer massage therapy, TCM, Naturopathic medicine and counselling.
You run a six-figure acupuncture practice. How many patients is that a week? Do you have any associates?
For years, I saw 45 to 50 patients in a 4 days week. Last year, I decided to scale back to 3 days/week and now see 35 to 40 patients. I also have a 2 to 3 weeks waiting list.
We have another acupuncturist in our clinic and we locum for each other when we take holidays. It’s so great to be able to go away and not feel guilty 🙂
You really have a passion for teaching and sharing your experience with other acupuncturists. Where do you teach acupuncture? How did you get into that?
I used to teach at a TCM college in Vancouver (ICTCMV), but I didn’t like the one-hour commute, so now I teach at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, which is closer to me. It all started when I went to get a transcript from my old college and they asked me if I could teach the TCM gynecology class which was starting in two days! Their current teacher had to go to China in an emergency. I told them I had no teaching experience, but they were in a jam and I agreed to help out.
The first class, I was terrified, palms sweating, heart rate going two hundred miles per hour, and I was sure everyone knew I had never taught before. I felt like a total fraud! But something strange happened that day. As soon as I started talking about Chinese medicine, I got excited and I couldn’t stop! I absolutely loved it! I get to talk about my favorite subject to people who actually want to listen and I get paid for it? BRING.IT.ON!
You’re also the mastermind/superwoman behind the awesome website www.AcuProAcademy.com. What inspired you to start that? How long has that been in existence?
I started AcuPro Academy in May 2014, because I felt there was a teaching gap in most TCM colleges. I wanted to explain Chinese medicine in a way that was easier for our western minds to grasp, and be able to reach TCM Rock Stars and Students all over the world. I truly want to empower every practitioner to achieve superior patient care while having fun.
On AcuPro Academy you have a whole section devoted to practice management, which I love. You talk about the Yin and Yang of practice. Can you tell us a little about what that means and why it’s important?
In my opinion, there isn’t just one thing that makes a successful practice, it’s a whole. A balance between Yin and Yang. In order to thrive, we need to consistently work on the internal (YIN – existing patients) and the external (YANG – potential patients) parts of our practice. To get referrals, treating our existing patient like gold is key, going the extra mile, re-booking them consistently, and communicating our diagnosis and treatment plan to them in a manner they can understand.
But we also need to work on getting new patients in regularly, by connecting with others business in our area, giving talks, having a social media plan and a kick-ass website!
What made you realize that building a practice has elements of yin and yang? Was there an a-ha! moment for that?
Not really, it just makes sense that Yin-Yang theory and 5-Element theory for that matter are applicable in everyday life, including in business.
You also have a really fun 7-Day Business Challenge that is free for acupuncturists on your website. In it you talk about everything from getting patients to re-book to starting an email list. What’s one tip you would share to help current patients re-book?
Offer patients packages: 6 treatments or 10 or 12.
I’m a huge supporter of email lists and newsletters to build a practice, so I’m happy to see that you’re in favor of that as well. Why do you think it’s important to have an email list of your patients and potential patients?
For existing patients: to educate them about the amazing benefits of TCM, and stay top of mind! For potential patients: to build a trust-know-like factor and educate them as well.
I also appreciate that you talk about mindset. The more successful acupuncturists that I interview, the more I’m seeing that they take mindset very seriously, including yourself, Lorne Brown, and Alyssa Dazet. Why is mindset so important to building a full practice? What kind of mindset should we have?
Mindset is primordial! You need a vision on what your perfect practice looks like, have measurable goals, a plan for how to accomplish them, and believe your purpose is to make a difference in people’s lives. Focus on yourself, not your competition! Be consistent, dedicated and believe it will all fall into place.
Changing someone’s mindset can be notoriously difficult; we each have individual personalities and backgrounds that shape the way we look at the world.
How do you recommend that acupuncturists go about changing their mindset? How can they make it stick?
First, we all need to stop thinking money is bad, dirty and a negative entity. Money allows you freedom to enjoy more family time, or travel, and not worry constantly about paying bills and loans. Money also allows you to be impactful. The more successful you are, the more lives you can touch, the more patients you can help, and the more money you can donate to causes close to your heart.
What made you realize that there was a need for practice management courses on AcuPro Academy?
Unfortunately I see new practitioners fail all the time and then they either give up or get another part time job to help supplement their income. Most of us finished TCM college thinking building a practice would take no time and be easy! Knowing TCM is fantastic but without knowing people, building meaningful relationships and understanding that YOU are your brand, it will be disheartening really quick.
If you could share one tip with us to help us get more patients today (or this week), what would it be?
Build strong relationships with everyone: your patients, your neighbors, everyone! They will promote your services for you!
What’s the best advice about running a business that anyone has ever given you?
Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk: You know what you do, but make sure you are clear on WHY you do it! Knowing your why is crucial to your success.
If you could go back and change anything about how you initially started your practice, what would it be? I.e., were there mistakes you made?
Hahaha, many mistakes! I had no idea I needed to know “business.” I thought all I needed was Chinese medicine! When in my first month in practice, I didn’t have any patients, zero, nada, zilch! I started panicking!
But I wouldn’t change anything because I believe every stepping stone got to me to where I am today. I’m not a quitter. I worked hard, took business classes, read all the books, and watched what the successful people around me where doing.
What advice would you give to acupuncture students in their final year of school regarding building a practice? What can they do now to get started?
Don’t wait to finish school! Start a blog and a website now, start your social media presence now. Build relationships, connect with your peers and talk passionately about TCM to EVERYONE!
What about one thing acupuncturists should never do?
Undervalue themselves and their services.
Thank you Clara! I couldn’t agree more with your approach to marketing and practice management. So much of building a successful practice is about relationship building and consistency.
Don’t forget to join Clara’s free 7-Day Business Challenge to learn more of her marketing advice and tactics.
If you have questions for Clara, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your thoughts in the comments below!