Acupuncture Together Grand Opening – A Grand Day, Indeed!

This past Saturday my new community acupuncture clinic, Acupuncture Together of Cambridge, had its grand opening event with free acupuncture from 11 am – 4 pm, and it was truly grand, indeed. After spreading the word by inviting nearly every person I know via email, contacting nearly every possible free publication in the Boston area asking it to list my event and using internet sites announcing it as well, I gladly received an overwhelming response, way beyond my expectations. Apparently the press found it a novelty worth including in their event listings, and my effort at seeking them all out was worth it as well. I treated 51 people in 5.5 hours!!!

By 11 am I had 3 people sitting in chairs and by the time I was done with number three, the rest of the chairs were filled. From there on it did not stop. I have a room with 7 chairs so I stayed in that room the whole time and never once did I have an empty seat; in fact, people were actually waiting very patiently in my waiting area, snacking, chatting and eagerly awaiting their treatments – some waited an hour and a half for it – it was remarkable. I came out twice to use the bathroom and once to eat for about 5 minutes, each time seeing people lined up sitting on the couch and chairs and standing around. When I would have a chance to notice, I would see friends peeking in through the window of my treatment room and I could wave at them. Several friends and colleagues of mine stopped by and to my sadness I was never even able to get out to talk with them. Some people came and could not wait for treatments, which was unfortunate as well, some were put on a waiting list and returned to have their treatment, and by about 3:00 we told any newcomers that there were no times available due to the back-up. I wish I could have treated everyone who wanted a treatment that day; the good news is that people who were turned away were understanding. Apparently one woman got very angry (guess she really needed her acupuncture!) but another one sent me an email expressing her understanding and booked her appointment for this coming week that night. When I counted the number of people I had treated at the end of the day and realized the number was 51 I was utterly floored! The remarkable thing was that it felt so simple and natural – I realized I am actually swifter at acupuncture than I thought! I felt very clear and calm and able to figure out a good treatment for just about everyone. Thank goodness for having practiced at another CAP for awhile.

The best thing about this day was that everything went incredibly gracefully. I felt like there was this incredible qi in my treatment room and I felt so relaxed when bopping around from person to person. One might think that when faced with people sitting and waiting for treatments (and my wonderfully helpful mother who, God bless her, was attending to the waiting list but from time to time notified me with some sense of urgency that people were waiting for over an hour) that I’d become overwhelmed by the pressure, but in fact that didn’t even occur to me. I realized that people really wanted to try acupuncture and never had the opportunity before, and free is a great price – especially on a Saturday, when you come to check a place out with some friends and it’s 95 degrees outside and you’re inside where it’s cool and you are fed good food. They were so patient and friendly and I was so grateful. They were also really understanding of my limitation in handling the load and realized I was doing the best I could.

Another incredible aspect was that nobody seemed to have had a bad experience. I didn’t even notice giving anyone a hematoma, which seems like a miracle. One girl was freaked out before I put in the needles and I told her she’d be okay and if she was not comfortable with it I’d be happy to just give it a try and then she could go. After sitting for about 15 minutes I noticed she still had this look of fear on her face so I asked if she was okay or would prefer to have her needles taken out and so I took them out. But I am glad that she was brave and gave it a try, and that I felt that I intuitively knew how to handle it.

As expected, some people did book appointments afterwards and others didn’t. I’m not sure what the ultimate outcome will be in having this as a part of a way to fill my clinic, but it sure was full that day. I couldn’t have asked for it to have been any better and have just been feeling such an incredible sense of happiness from it. The night before it I was comparing my way of facing the coming day to the way I used to face the marathons I used to run. I used to get so excited and work really hard to prepare for them. This was exactly the same except in a professional sense and to me just as gratifying. I’m glad I enjoy running a business just as much as I enjoy giving acupuncture. I think owning a community acupuncture clinic is what was meant to be for me.

Justine_Myers
Author: Justine_Myers

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Responses

  1. This is out of the ball park!

     So now, Justine, give us details.  How much intake did you require of each patient before treating them, as far as paperwork and interview.  Did you have more than one person (your wonderful mother) out front dealing with the eager crowd? How much food did you prepare??  And drinks?   How many papers published your event?  How many internet sites did you use?  Any flyers?  How about your personal network of friends and family: any idea of percent of patients they generated by word-of-mouth?  All new clinics could use this inspiration.

  2. How it worked…

    Here is more detail about how I marketed my event: the Boston Metro free daily newspaper (it was in last Thursday’s “T time” page that highlights the upcoming weekend’s events (that was the number 1 draw for the day); the Improper Bostonian (free bi-weekly magazine that lists events); Craigslist events; Yelp.com; Going.com; Facebook.com; Myspace.com; Boston.com; and some of you may shudder when I say that I had a bulk mailing done for 2000 Cambridge residents with coupons – but my uncle is in the printing business so he hooked me up with that.  In addition, I sent emails announcing it and reminding people again to over 200 friends and acquaintances.  Lastly, I hung flyers at lots of bulletin boards in Cambridge and Somerville.

    Here are the details of the system I used to “manage” all the patients and make things run smoothly (systems are so important!  I find it to be kind of like when I used to waitress; no system = total disorientation).

    My parents ran the front desk and my grandmother booked appointments at the computer with my online appointment scheduler (she’s a 79 year-old computer whiz!).  Each person received a little packet that I had prepared.  These included the following handouts:  a double-sided “Welcome to the Clinic” letter explaining the way my clinic works; an Acupuncture 101 paper talking very briefly about how acupuncture works; a little paper that lists all the things I treat; a “How Much Acupuncture Will I Need? (Or, What to Expect and When to Expect It)” sheet; and a coupon flyer.  I figured this would be useful in case people had questions or wanted to learn more about acupuncture and my clinic, and although my family is pretty knowledgeable, this was a bit more detailed and accurate.  People were informed they’d be receiving a free half-hour treatment, but that normally I let people stay for as long as they want when they are being treated.

    There was a sign-in sheet for people to put their name, email address and the source that led them to my event so I could track it.  Then, whoever wanted a treatment needed to sign one of my arbitration/consent to treat forms.  They brought it in to the treatment room with them so I could take it when they were in the chair.

    Once people were signed up and ready for treatment (and there were chairs available) they were able to come right into my treatment room, take a seat and put their feet up.  I came over, introduced myself, asked if they’d ever had acupuncture before (majority said no), took their consent form and then asked them what they’d like me to treat them for that day.  They’d give me an answer (shoulder pain, allergies, stress, etc.) and then if necessary I’d ask a few very short detailed questions to get a better assessment (“show me where your shoulder hurts,” “what kind of allergy symptoms?”) and then tell them very briefly what to expect as I got my needles out (you may feel a dull achy sensation or a little pinch, but it shouldn’t be painful) and jotted down my treatment on their consent form (this is how I normally practice – I bring a clipboard and jot down the person’s treatment right when I treat them so I keep track).  Then I’d put in the needles, and stuck a post-it note by their feet with a time for 30 minutes later when I’d return to take their needles out.  I use a lot of Dr. Tan treatments but also some TCM; I mix it up.  I did take a few pulses and looked at a few tongues but because it was a fast-paced day I relied more on people’s symptoms.  I use a lot of Dr. Tan’s balance method (which by now is mostly memorized, but occasionally I look things up) and sometimes I use his internal global balance treatments (such as Taiyang/Yangming ST-43/36, SP-3/9, LU-9/5, LI-3/11 for allergies/respiratory/face/sinus/throat/chest/breast/stomach, or 8 magic for digestion).  Whenever I do a pain treatment I test for ah shi points and then ask the person to move the painful area when I needle the distal area, so I had a lot of people finding the instant relief with that which is always delightful especially for first-timers.  I just estimated that on average it took 6.5 minutes per patient (this includes inserting and removing needles, fluffing sheets and 3 five-minute breaks).

    Hopefully that answered your questions!  🙂

    Anymore I will be happy to address… 

     

  3. Congrats!

    Congrats and thanks Justine.

    Thanks for sharing your experience! Very inspirational to be sure, and I’m so happy for you! Can’t wait to here more as your practice continues.

     

  4. 51, wow

    Congratulations on your super successful opening, Justine!  I am glad to hear that all your hard work to promote the event got such good results and that it all went so well.  Our AC is broken right now and the image of all those people coming in to your cool space is making me seriously jealous.  Good luck with everything.  I’m off to what feels like the sauna.  

    -ellen