Hello AcuGraph Friends,
If you know anything about Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac., you know she lives her life with passion and purpose that carry over into everything she does. So when she decided a few months ago to reinvent her practice and take it to the next level, you can bet she did amazing things, and got amazing results.
I posted a preview last week—and now the full interview is ready. Join me as I interview Kimberly about her journey–how she got started, the steps she took, and the results she obtained from reinventing her practice. Her story will inspire any acupuncturist who wants to make a difference.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!
ALSO: Tell the world YOUR story! How has AcuGraph changed your practice? Help us inspire the acupuncture profession with your success! We’re looking for more interviews, by phone, Skype or in person. Tell me you’re interested in the comments, and I’ll contact you.
The following is the transcript of this interview:
Adrian: So Kimberly today we’re talking because you’ve recently, shall we say, reinvented yourself, your practice, and your life in a lot of really cool and important ways. And I wanted to talk to you a little bit about that and share a little bit with perhaps other people who will be inspired by your story. So why don’t you tell us a little about where this started and where you started.
Kimberly: Alright. So, about a year ago I decided that I was going to move my clinic and in that process, I just felt like I had enough experience behind me, little bits of things I learned along the way that I just really wanted to put all that together and create, kind of the clinic of my dreams at this point. Who knows, 10 years from now I’d might have another clinic of my dreams? But, based on the experience that I had up to that point, I was just doing a lot of pondering and soul-searching and trying to decide what it is, and where I wanted to go. So it started out, I think, with just a pad of paper and pen and I just started imagining and creating. If I had it the way exactly what I want it to be. What would that look like? And, so I imagined the clients that I’d have coming in. I imagined the feel of my clinic. I imagined the income that I would be making. I just put them all down on paper and tried to create a look and feel. Then once I had designed what it is that I’m looking for, then I moved forward and went to a lot of different directions.
Adrian: Okay. You know something that I really noticed is the first thing you really kind of worked on, it seems like, was your image, the way you present yourself to the world. Tell us a little bit about that.
Kimberly: Well I had gone through a 3-year journey of weight loss and so in that time I kind of learned a little about myself. I learned a lot about…I don’t know. I guess you dig deep. When you take off layers you dig deep inside and you kind of decide who you are. I know that long term my goal in my clinic was to get my doctorate and so I wanted my patients to see me as Dr. Thompson. Even though I don’t have my doctorate yet, it’s a goal and something that I’m currently working on. So that had to be part of the image that I wanted to create. I knew that I wanted my patients to see me as someone different. Someone different in the community. If they looked at all the other acupuncturists, not that I was better than anyone else, but I wanted them to see me as different. So that was important to me. When they saw my website, I just based on the look and feel and everything that I did. I mean, I went from the bottom, just the ity-bitty, as far as I could go. I created my logo and I recreated my business card, my photography, colors in my clinic, everything and all the way down from the bottom line. And my website, it was kind of fun doing this process. I sat down with a team, I didn’t just get a rinky-dink web developer. I actually sat down with a team of workers in my community. And in that team there was a logo designer, and there was the color coordinator, there was the person who was writing the content, the person creating the look and feel. The first time I met with them they said “just tell me about you, Kimberly. Tell me about your goals and what your plan is.” So I laid it all out to them and it was fabulous because based on the type of client that I was looking for, the image that I was trying to create for my clinic, who I saw myself as in the next 10 years, that’s what they helped me to develop. So, from as simple as to the colors, design, the flow of my logo to the photography. When I had my picture taken, my business card, and everything, it just all came together in a pretty cool way.
Adrian: Sounds very professional.
Kimberly: It was. And it was really an exciting experience. And it took years of learning to get to the point to actually know what I wanted and it was pretty awesome experience.
Adrian: It sounds like it was a lot of fun as well. It’s been fun to watch you go through this. Now bigger question, once you’d kind of changed your image, changed how you presented yourself to the world, what did that do to your treatment strategies in your clinic? How did you change there?
Kimberly: One of the things that made me different than the other acupuncturists, and I wanted to portray this on my website is, that I use technology in my clinic, which is different than a lot of other acupuncturist in my community. So as far as treatment strategies, I wanted my patients to recognize that not only was I knowledgeable and that I had skill and that they can trust me based on my experience, but that I had the tools that will work for them. On my website, I highlight the different things that I use in my clinic, so obviously I use AcuGraph and treatment strategies. I use what works, that is what I use. Whether it is micro-current, or laser, or electro-acupuncture, or massage therapy, because that’s part of my background, and acupuncture all combined. I just use a combination of different things and so when people go to my website they recognize that I’m just not the typical acupuncturist, they’ll see that there are other tools that I use and so I use what is best for them.
Adrian: Okay and can you briefly outline for us how you put together a treatment plan, how often do you treat your patients, how do you start out, just kind of give us an overview.
Kimberly: When a patient comes through my door for the very first time, I spend an hour and a half with them. I give them all the attention that they need in that hour hour and a half, it’s just them and I, one on one, and I find out all that I can about the patient. I do a full TCM intake, I take all the information on their chief complaint, I palpate their body, I do an AcuGraph analysis. I explain to them my views on Chinese medicine and I give them, based on their chief complaints, what it is that I’m finding and I create a treatment plan for them on that very first visit and what I expect based on what I experienced on how long it would take to work on their problem.
Adrian: You typically treat once a week, twice a week, three times a week?
Kimberly: I used to treat once a week because basically I run a 2-day clinic, and when I’m not treating patients then I’m doing acupuncture research. I used to treat patients once a week and you can get decent results once a week but I learned that if I can treat patient closer together in the beginning so they’ll come in for their first visit and then if they come in the following week, I’m treating them twice that week, possibly twice the next week depending on how acute their problem is. And I’m finding that I’m getting better results by treating them more often to begin with and then spreading things out over time. That itself has been a huge change in my clinic.
Adrian: Sure. And so with this new professional image in the way you’ve reinvented yourself. What did you do with your fees?
Kimberly: So when I moved to my new clinic, I raised my prices. I actually raised them significantly. I used to charge $100 for initial visit and $65 for typical follow-up visits. Then I realized, with all the different technology that I use, with all the different skills that I have to offer my patients, that it was time to raise my prices to fit what it is that I’m trying to create in my new clinic. Now, first visits are $150 and subsequent visits are $85.
Adrian: Were you scared in raising your prices?
Kimberly: I was. I was actually really afraid. I was afraid people would not commit, but it was the perfect decision. Patients come in for that very first visit and because I’m treating them close together right in the beginning, I kind of offer them a deal. I don’t know if that’s even the right word. I tell them “You know what, I don’t know if I’m the right person to solve all your problems but give me four visits and let’s see how well we do.” And so within that time, and I usually say 4-6, and I tell them as long as they’re progressing then we’ll re-evaluate. I know based on my skill set that if I can treat them close together and if I can treat them 4-6 times in a condensed amount of time, with all of the different skills that I have, if one skill isn’t going to work then I have other avenues in my treatment strategies. And so by treating them close together and kind of getting them to commit on the first initial visits then we can have a remeasure point at that point.
Adrian: So you worked toward on a kind of package visits at the outset with the promise that we will know very quickly if you’re making the kind of progress we want, and if not then you’ll walk out. But if you are making the progress…
Kimberly: Then we’ll continue. It is actually been phenomenal because in those first few visits, there’s a lot of things to happen in those visits. The first visit, that 90 minutes that you had with your patient, you’re developing a fantastic relationship with them. And within those several visits, they’re getting acupuncture, they’re getting massage therapy, they’re getting some microcurrent, they’re getting some cupping, they’re getting some dietary therapy, they’re a getting a whole idea of what I do. Typically, within those four to five visits, they’re already referring patients to me. The cycle just continues with new patients coming in.
Adrian: Wow, outstanding! We’re going to save the results here and talk about how all these changes affected your practice but first I want to talk a little bit about patient education with you. Obviously you use AcuGraph in patient education, how does that help your patients understand what you’re doing? How did they respond? How does that work for you in your practice?
Kimberly: First of all they’ve seen the website, they’ve seen all the different things that we have to offer so there’s a level of being “sold” before they even come in. Then I get that chance to bond with them in that 90 minutes and I explain to them that I studied traditional chinese medicine. In fact, there’s a certain point within the evaluation that I’m asking them all the questions, feeling their pulse, looking at their tongue, and I tell them what you’ve experience up to this point has to do with traditional chinese medicine and that is what my degree is in. I say “something that makes me different from other acupuncturist is where we’re moving next.” I explain to them that modern science has caught up with the acupuncture world and we have a way to measure acupuncture channels to show what their imbalances are and a way to measure progress. And they sit there like, they think “Wow, that’s really different!” Many people even if they have acupuncture before, they recognize right then and there that we have something different to offer them in our clinic. After I do the evaluation for them and I discuss what’s happening in the meridians, I’m able to give them a little mini-lesson on chinese medicine and explain how channel pathways work, how it affects the muscles and how it affects the internal pathways. And within AcuGraph you can look at pictures of each of those aspects…
Adrian: So you’re doing some show and tell there…
Kimberly: Absolutely. And that first visit is crucial. I do a lot of show and tell. I show them how everything is interconnected and how I understand what’s going on in their body and I tell them I’m an engineer. It is my job to understand how all of the channels are working in your body, whether there’s too much energy and when there’s not enough energy, and I help them to recognize that by me working on those things that I find, that’s how their symptoms change. On that first visit, I actually print them an AcuGraph report and I attach three business cards in front of it. I remind them again as they leave, they are already happy, I’ve already built them their confidence level, they’ve had their first treatment and I tell them “there are three cards in here and I want you to give those away before you come back, we have plenty more to give you when you come.” I open up their report and I remind them of how I’m looking at their body and the possible symptoms they could have in relation to imbalances in the channel. I tell them “you won’t have all these symptoms but long term if channels stay imbalanced, these are the types of symptoms you can have.” They leave and their report is gold saying “I can’t wait to show this to my husband, I can’t wait to show this to my mother, can’t wait to show this to my friend.” Handing that report the first time ties everything together. I already explained to them who I am and what I do and now they have something to hold which shows their body and what’s going on and they love it.
Adrian: Beautiful. Along with educating the patients and giving them better information about what’s going on in them, how does AcuGraph give you information and help you formulate a better treatment plan?
Kimberly: There’s that first initial part and I tell them this has to do with my traditional training in chinese medicine. Once i have graphed them, I have eyes that see within. I can correlate muscular channels with internal pathways and recognize in a much bigger picture what’s going on with the patient and it’s interesting as you graph them over time and you get rid some of the layers, the multiple symptoms that they have and then the graph begins to change. It begins to show how they are constitutionally to be able to take a peek inside and recognize how emotions or digestion or whatever is going on in their body. I can go down deep into layers, not just an external channel pathways, not just TCM pattern, but I can look at the muscles I can look at the internal pathways I can look at the flow of energy from channel to channel. I have an encyclopedia right at my fingertips.
Adrian: Love it, outstanding. So we talked about AcuGraph and we often tell people this is going to help you practice grow. Give us a little bit of an idea about your practice growth, how all of this has come together for you.
Kimberly: That is a really good question. Today I was looking on my iPhone and I have this newsfeed that tells you how many years ago different things happen. And 5 years ago, I went to a training and I learned how to understand AcuGraph at a deeper level, and it was literally 5 years ago today. AcuGraph started as a way for me to educate my patients just to be able to show them that there was science involved. It’s just show and tell. And then over time I recognized that I could combine TCM knowledge with what I was seeing on the graph. I reached the point now where I can pick apart and analyze and see things from so many different directions. My own personal growth… I know without a doubt that I’m a better acupuncturist having so many avenues to be the engineer.
Adrian: Obviously patients are more than just numbers. These are people and people is what matters. This is the business that we’re in. But a practice is numbers and a successful practice means you can make a living doing this and if you can make a living you can help people. Tell me about your practice results and financial results how have you grown there?
Kimberly: First of all when I became an acupuncturist, I had to spend a time in my life where I have to be the breadwinner. When I graduated in college, and there are a lot of people who were just sort of haphazardly doing treatments for free, just they weren’t thriving, they weren’t making any money, they we weren’t able to pay off their student loans. I knew that that couldn’t be my situation. I knew that I needed to be the breadwinner and over, I would say over an 8-year period, I remember just really struggling, trying to figure out the financial side of it. And once I recognized, this last time that I moved my clinic, a light bulb went on, something clicks, something changed and I remember watching my bank account change from one month to two months to three months, realizing I’m doing something right. And really what happened at that point in time is my confidence level had grown, which obviously years of understanding the patient, getting good results, and getting to that level educating the patient, but learning how to bring new patients in and keep that steady flow of patients coming in because they trusted in me. And, because I had a tool to be able to show them progress, all of a sudden there were new patients coming in over and over and over. Now obviously it took some years of experience and you have to be good at what you do. The website helped, I have a really great website, but if you can’t bring in patients on a regular basis, and keep new patients coming in, then a great website and great skill, you still have to keep patients coming in and that was…
Adrian: Each new patient is, you know from a dollars and cents perspective, looking at the financial realm of things. Each new patient is worth a certain amount to a practice, there’s going to be a certain number of visits in there and each new referral is worth a certain amount. Therefore that kind of formula, if you have a certain flow of new patients, then you have a certain success level in your practice.
Kimberly: Right. And I think I did the math on that was like $600-$700 per new patient. So if you have a new patient coming in every week and you can keep them, for me it is booking at first visit, it’s booking that original series, booking them close together and then having that patient bring in a new patient. And literally, if you’re bringing in two to three patients a week, to even two new patients a week, you can change your income level by $4,000 a month. I’ve seen it happen that fast and it’s a matter of keeping the cycle going. And I remember just being shocked coming home to my husband, and I have done the math at the end of the month, and I’m like “my practice doubled, something changed…” And he is like “wow!” My husband is a tax man, “keep doing what you’re doing babe!” And then the next month I just kept with the same flow of what was going on and it doubled again and it was unbelievable to see the change that happened. We really can make money in this business, and love what we’re doing, and love the patients, and everything else.
Adrian: Outstanding. I think that it’s important for other acupuncturist to hear your story and to be inspired that this doesn’t have to be an unsolvable problem for how to make a practice grow and thrive. There are steps that you follow and if you do these things then the results follow. One statistic I want to ask you about before we finish, something that you told me before and I have some notes here, you said that each new patient is bringing in another new patient within 30 days. So am I understanding it right that every time you get a new patient you can pretty much count on that person referring at least another one, they will replace themselves?
Kimberly: They will. And there are few things that I do to ensure that that’s happening. One is, hand them the AcuGraph report and I attached the 3 cards to it. The second thing that I do is, I absolutely make sure my patients are following me on Facebook. I’m always posting interesting things about the clinic, the types of things that I treat, if they’re following me on Facebook then they know that I’m treating pregnancy, they know that I’m treating cancer patients. I’m planting seeds on a regular basis, different than their Chief complaint, of what they have coming in. I’m planting seeds of other things that I can do. And then sometimes you get the golden patient who will be, you know, I’m always teaching them how to be wellness patients. And there are times when that wellness patient, you’ve treated them enough times and they are seeing the results and they become a wellness patient. But many patients, which I’ve learned for being in practice for so long, many of them fall off the plate and don’t come back but there’s a golden opportunity that happens within that first 30 days. When they’re getting great results, they’re really happy about you, I send them a letter via email, I send an email and I say, “hey I’m so glad you’re getting great results would you mind doing a Google review for me.” The funny thing is, I found that idea on accident. Obviously, I’ve taken lots of marketing classes and I read books and I’m always listening for that great next marketing tip. The way I got that idea was I had a guy call me on the phone and he’s like, “Hey, is this Kimberly Thompson?” And I said, “yes I am.” And he said, “are you the acupuncturist?” I said, “yes.” He says, “are you any good?” “I think I’m pretty good, why do you ask?” And he goes, “well, you don’t have any Google reviews and I do everything off 0f Google reviews and so if you don’t have any Google reviews you must not be very good.” And it went, “ohh, well I am good. Come on in and I’ll show you and I’ll fix that.” Since then, I take those patients and in the first 30 days and I send them an email. They’re happy with me, they’re happy with the results, they’re happy to do that favor back to me, and I asked them to do a Google review. So now if you Google me in my hometown I come up just like that on top of the list. Lots of Google reviews, so there’s just one more little thing, that the website is good, Google reviews are good, patients are coming to Facebook and they’re tagging their location when they come into the clinic and then they’re telling everybody that their acupuncturist is different.
Adrian: Very cool, very cool. It’s a great story, I’m really excited for the things that you shared and I know it’s going to help a lot of people who are very capable acupuncturists, but don’t know what the next step is. Talk about the next step, you kind of reinvented everything from the bottom up, but wow look at the results. Now, because we’re interested in all of our customers being successful in all facets of their lives. Successful in practice and whatever that means to them, we want to hear more of their stories we want to have other people tell us like you did. “Here’s what I did, here’s the way I do it and here’s what change for me and here’s the results that I saw.” And so part of what we’re doing with this interview is that we’re inviting other practitioners who have experience to share. We want to hear them. We want to get the word out. We want to put their interview on Facebook.
Kimberly: Absolutely. I get to rub shoulders with acupuncturists all around the world really because I travel to acupuncture conventions and I love to hear their stories. So many of them inspire me and I love to take someone who’s excited, and new, or wanting to make a change in their clinic and offering them the tools because we should all be able to take vacation once, twice or three times a year right?
Adrian: Yeah, you have to be able to rejuvenate. So the bottom line for everybody out there that’s watching, if you have a story that you’d like to share. Something similar to Kimberly and it doesn’t have to be just like hers because you’re unique, we want to hear from you. Drop us a line, give us a comment, or shoot us an email, email@example.com. Tell us about your story, tell us that you’d like to be interviewed, we would love to interview you and tell other people what you’ve done. If all else fails, give us a call but we look forward to talking to you, we look forward to sharing more success stories, so that more acupuncturists out there can take their rightful place in the successful healthcare market and help a lot of people. Thank you Kimberly, we really appreciate it.
Kimberly: Thank you.