Everyday Practice: Running Programs to Support Your Business
If you’ve been following the IGNITE content or reading some of the articles we’ve shared, you know that one concept we repeat over and over in various iterations is how to diversify your revenue stream—getting out of the trap of your only revenue source being your one-on-one time with patients.
We’ve shared some experts’ views on top opportunities, including group visits, writing and speaking, hosting an online dispensary like wellevatesm and more!
Well, today I’m excited to speak with you about another option that can really change your practice revenue model—offering programs to support your practice. These could be in-office programs (like detox programs, weight loss programs, etc.) which function much like group visits or they could be online programs, which we’ll focus on today.
What Is an Online Program?
An online program provides your clients with an opportunity to receive information from you through avenues for engagement other than in-office visits. This includes videos, webinars, personal contact (through phone/telemedicine platform), written materials and more. Online programs can offer you the opportunity to consolidate what you know and leverage your time in creating materials once and then earning additional revenue when you share with more than one person.
How Do They Work and How Do You Get Started?
If you want to offer programs, the first thing you need is an audience to offer them to. “Building your list” or your list of prospective customers is probably your toughest task. This is primarily done through offering free, engaging content on a consistent basis through avenues like social media, summits, speaking engagements, guest writing, your blog, etc. With every exposure to new people, you add an invitation to follow you—on social media, on your blog or on your mailing list. This does mean you need to have a blog, mailing list or social media accounts! If you are enrolling your patients into your “list”, then you’ve built a personal connection that establishes that trust; it’s just difficult to build a list to be really large if you rely only on your face-to-face contacts. That being said, even that is a great start!
After building trust with your audience by supplying them with great content for free over time, you are ready to offer programs. Start with what you’re good at or what you talk with patients about all the time already. For many practitioners, that is a detox program, a specific diet you promote or a lifestyle protocol for a condition you treat regularly. For the purposes of this article, let’s describe what a detox program might look like. However, you could go through this exercise using whatever other program you’d like: pain management, fertility, constipation—whatever suits your practice.
Start by thinking through what you normally do for a client sitting in your office who wants to go through a detox. What do you talk to them about? What background information do you provide? Think through the instructions of what to do? How do you describe why they would go through the detox program? Are supplements an important part of the protocol? What would you recommend, typically?
Next, you have to think through the depersonalization process. In your office, you likely tailor each person’s protocol to their own specific needs. This can’t really be done in a program, so focus on the aspects that ARE similar for everyone—perhaps this is the diet plan or your information about how to stay away from toxins and what those toxins are. (If you must personalize certain aspects, you can sell a program with a brief telephone consult to customize for each person. However, you lose the benefit of this being “hands off” and it may lose its scalability.)
Once you know what your client needs to be successful on the program, you have to create the materials. Think about handouts, presentation slides, recipes, videos, live webinars, prerecorded webinars, etc.
Some of my closest colleagues who are most successful offer programs that are literally a single, 3-5-page pdf document with very little special formatting/graphics. Don’t go overboard here! There’s a tendency to offer TOO MUCH!
Finally, you need a place to house it and a way to collect payment. Some free housing options include a password protected Dropbox (free version available) or even Google Drive (where only those invited can view contents). If you’re looking for more advanced program options, there are great course software programs out there, like Ruzuku (what I use), which offer greater capability, like integrated payment processing, live webinar capability and more. To start, a basic Dropbox is great, especially if you’re offering it only to your own patients.
Once you promote the program, you need a way for patients to pay and gain access. It may be as simple as a button on your website, calling your office to process payment (not ideal, again because not hands off) or using a PayPal account you can link to in your promotions.
Don’t underestimate how lucrative this can be for your practice! Even a single detox program, offered twice per year to only your current patients, can generate thousands in additional revenue each year! Good luck!
Dr. Jaclyn Chasse is a naturopathic physician and the VP of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for Emerson Ecologics. She proudly serves as the President of the AANP and thinks everyone needs a good probiotic!