Lost A Sale, But Initial Phone Consultations — A Big Part Of Brilliant Customer Service
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Breath: The Movement of Oxygen and Energy
I remember with surprising clarity the first time a patient started crying during an acupuncture treatment I was giving. This is now quite a long time ago, back in 1999, when I was a student.
The Modern Acupuncturist
You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Calculating Billable Units
I recently learned of an office that was audited based on the number of acupuncture sessions performed in one day. Is there a maximum number of sessions that can be performed in one day?
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Acupuncture and the Pulse
In 1991, I attended a martial arts workshop hosted coincidentally by Sung Baek, a martial artist and the head of his lineage as a Korean trained acupuncturist. I was enamored by the details Sung could attain from the pulse, as told to me by some of his apprentices.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
Acupuncture in the U.K. Today: A Personal View
When asked to write a short piece on the current state of the U.K. acupuncture profession, my first response was to say it has all been relatively quiet.
The Source-Luo Point Combination
The luo collaterals are part of the acupuncture channel system presented in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu (The Nei Jing). The function and clinical application of the luo mai are primarily presented in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, however, they are also found in others chapters in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
The Year to Make Things Happen
It is hard to believe that the Year of the Ram – 2015 is half over. Time seems to be moving especially fast. This is the year for things to happen for the acupuncture profession.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 2
A talented young woman presented herself with emotional mood swings, which included being nervous, anxious and jittery.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
What Does Success Mean to You?
Recently, I was asked to speak to young, budding businesswomen about running a successful business — and at first I thought, "Me? You want me to speak to others about success?!"
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Use Technology to Gain New Patients and Improve Efficiency
From the smartphone in your pocket to your microwave oven, advancements in technology have made almost every aspect of our lives easier.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
The Nectar of Plants: Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine
Essential oils are a very hot topic these days, especially with the likes of the Ebola virus and the resurgence of measles lurking in our awareness, but when I first became interested in Chinese medicine, essential oils weren't on the radar screen for acupuncturists.
TMF 2015 Scholarships
The Trudy McAlister Foundation (TMF), a nonprofit organization established to support students who are on track to make contributions either to clinical practice and/or to the understanding of the role of Traditional Oriental Medicine, has announced the 2015 scholarship recipients.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients, in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
November, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 11
An Ounce of Prevention Can Save You a Lot of Heartache
By Cherie Sohnen-Moe and Laura Allen
Like anyone else, massage therapists are also consumers. We need goods and services to keep our homes and our businesses going. A quick glance in the phone book or on the Internet and you can find anything you need, whether that's a laundry service, product supplier, cleaning service or something more professional such as an attorney or an accountant.
When choosing someone to provide us with a product or service, keep in mind that many of the same things that are so great about the Internet, and social media in particular, are also some of the same things we need to be concerned about. Just like a popular country song says, "I'm so much cooler online." When someone creates an Internet persona, or a profile for their business, they are putting out there what they want people to see. Sometimes that's as innocent as retouching a picture taken on a bad hair day. Other times, it's as serious as someone totally misrepresenting themselves and their business or their qualifications.
We often take those representations at face value instead of doing any further investigation. Between the two of us, we have thousands of people on our social media networks. Even if we were inclined to, we couldn't check them all out and unless we are conducting some kind of business with them, there's really no reason to. That's the key phrase: "conducting some kind of business with them."
This is certainly not meant as a blanket condemnation of making useful business contacts on the Internet. Our websites and our social media contacts have contributed greatly to our success. We've both made many useful alliances and even lasting friendships with people we have met online or with businesses that first came to our attention online. It's an unfortunate truth, though, and one that we cannot ignore, that there are scam artists everywhere. By this point in time, nearly everyone that has an e-mail account has probably received one of those messages that they've won a lottery or someone has died and left them a fortune or a friend is stuck in Paris after being mugged and having their passport and wallet stolen and they can't possibly get back home unless you help by sending them some money. These scams are usually obvious, although in the past few years, they've gotten more sophisticated.
Here is an example of a scam that has run through our industry several times. A therapist receives an e-mail request to schedule several massages for an upcoming trip to the therapist's city. The scammer asks for the therapist's fees and sets up the appointments, but then sends a check for much more than the appropriate fee. Another e-mail is sent by the scammer stating that an accidental overpayment was made and asks the therapist to deposit the check anyway and refund the overage. The check that the therapist receives is a fake, but unfortunately, the therapist's bank might initially accept it. It could take several weeks before the bank notifies the therapist that the check was fraudulent. In the meantime, the scammer has cashed the therapist's check for the overage. While the preceding example should set off alarm bells, what isn't so obvious are the so-called "experts" that are misrepresenting their credentials or people who do the old "bait and switch" routine.
Misrepresentation of Credentials
If someone is claiming to practice a licensed profession, that's easy enough to verify. Nearly every state board now has an online verification search option on their website so that you may verify any massage therapist, doctor, lawyer, accountant, teacher or others who might be required to be licensed in order to practice.
Let's say you hire someone to do your tax returns. If you're giving your business to an established firm like H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt, or a local CPA who is known to you or recommended by people you trust, you shouldn't have a problem. If you've hired someone over the Internet who is claiming to be a tax expert, you should first check their credentials. If they're claiming to be a CPA, verify that on the state board's website. Ask them for their PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number). If they are unwilling to give that to you, go elsewhere. Every tax preparer is obligated by federal law to put that number on every return they prepare.
Bait and Switch
How many times have you seen an offer that seems too good to be true? Chances are that it is too good to be true. Occasionally, companies make great offers to generate leads, bring in new customers/clients, or to celebrate a company's milestone. Unfortunately, many times this is just a ruse. A common example is the sales pitch in which you are contacted and told that you've won a free prize and all you have to do is review a new product the company is launching. Then, when the representative arrives, you are subjugated to a very long, hard-sales presentation and often don't even receive the prize unless you buy the product.
Credit card issuers and credit card processors are two entities that almost exclusively target small business owners, like massage therapists. They know they are not going to have any success in trying to take advantage of a large corporation that has in-house accountants and financial advisors. They'd much rather go after the little guy. One bait and switch is offering you a credit card for your business at 0% interest. Read the small print and you'll see that's only good for a short time — like 60 days — and then it leaps to 29%.
Legitimate credit card processors have been recently warning business owners of a scam known as "slamming." It works like this:
If this happens to you, try to make note of the number they are calling from and immediately inform your real credit card processor.
The Internet has also made it convenient to find reviews for individuals and businesses online. YELP is one of the most popular sites for reviews. While some of these must be taken with a grain of salt — anyone may have the occasional disgruntled customer — if there are numerous negative reviews, that should be noted before doing business with someone, particularly if the reviews mention unscrupulous business practices. A review claiming that a staff member was rude is one thing; a review claiming that an individual or business cheated people out of money by failing to deliver on goods or services that the consumer paid for is something else.
The Better Business Bureau posts complaints online including complaints received about businesses that are not their members. Businesses are categorized as accredited and non-accredited. Accredited businesses are members that have been vetted (e.g., licenses checked, affiliations verified) and agree to meet the BBB standards. There is a fee to become an accredited business. When the BBB receives a complaint from a consumer, they contact the business to get the business owner's or manager's side of the story, and try to mediate a satisfactory solution between the business and the consumer. The details of the consumer's complaint and any resolutions offered by the business can be found on their website. They also rate businesses on a letter scale according to how many complaints they have received against a business and whether or not the business was willing to offer a resolution satisfactory to the consumer.
Slander and Libel
While we encourage you to research people/companies, you must exercise caution when posting any type of negative review. It can be quite tempting to tell everyone about a bad experience you've had. We've overheard uncomplimentary conversations and read some rather nasty posts. Be careful of what you say so that you do not malign a colleague or are not sued for defamation.
The two major branches of defamation are slander (verbal) and libel (written). Make sure that you state your concerns as your opinion. It's fine to be emphatic and say, "I won't do business with this person and nobody else should either!" Always stick to the facts. The minute you start embellishing the truth you get into trouble. For instance, saying someone is a crook could be actionable, but stating that you never received a refund or the contractual obligations weren't met is acceptable from a legal standpoint. Hearsay — such as "So-and-so said you said/did/didn't do ______" — is not acceptable evidence in a court of law with very few exceptions and should also not be the basis for you to slam someone or their business.
Keep in mind that just because you do not work well with a particular practitioner or didn't receive the desired results does not preclude others from receiving benefits. Determine your intent before saying anything that may be construed as "bad-mouthing" or gossip. These types of actions often reflect more poorly on you than the person/company in question.
Avoid making accusations that are not based on your own personal experience, especially when it is second-hand information from someone you only "know" through social media and haven't even met. Sometimes this can be difficult, particularly when you are being inundated with messages from people complaining about a third party. We suggest you encourage those people to contact the proper authorities (if possible). Remind them that if they want to "warn" others about this person/company, they need to stick to the facts.
Also, action can be brought against you if you try to interfere with someone's right to contract. The term for this is Tortious Interference with Contractual Relations. The measure is if you stated something that is not true and contacted someone who is doing business with that person. For instance, you know that one of your Facebook followers has hired a business consultant that you don't really like. You could be liable if you contact that follower and badmouth the consultant. This liability is amplified if you post derogatory comments about that consultant on your Facebook page. Again, you can state facts, but be cautious about the wording. Gary Wolf, an attorney in Tucson said, "Truth is the best defense for a defamation claim."
Giving Until it Hurts
Massage therapists are a generous group on the whole, always ready to lend a hand or make a donation to a worthy cause. These days, "crowd-funding" seems to be all the rage. If you can afford to do so and you want to donate money to someone so they can take their dream vacation to Paris or buy a new house or a clarinet that's your choice, but do realize that those aren't tax-deductible donations. You can and should donate to any cause that speaks to your heart whether it's tax deductible or not.
According to the IRS website, hundreds of organizations calling themselves "non-profits" proliferate immediately following any natural disaster. Many are not legitimate. Other people start legitimate helping organizations but it takes them a while to be granted non-profit status (sometimes up to a year). You can check the status of any entity claiming non-profit status on the website at www.irs.gov or by calling their toll-free number at 1-877-829-5500. They can also give you the date the non-profit received that status and whether or not any prior donations you may have made are tax-deductible.
Penny Wise and Pound Foolish
The old saying "penny wise and pound foolish" refers to doing a little bit of work now and saving yourself a lot of trouble in the future. Besides being generous to a fault, massage therapists often tend to look at the bright side of things and expect the best from everyone, but when it comes to your business, that could be a huge mistake. It is much better to spend a little time investigating that person or company you're going to do business with prior to making that arrangement, than spending months trying to recover a bogus charge on your credit card, collect on the goods or services that an unscrupulous business person is trying to cheat you out of or even years trying to recover from outright identity theft.
If you feel that you have been the victim of identity theft, swindling or fraud, contact your local law enforcement immediately — as well as your bank and credit card companies.
Click here for previous articles by Cherie Sohnen-Moe.
Laura Allen has been practicing massage therapy since 1999 and is an Approved Provider of Continuing Education under the NCBTMB, an author, a frequent blogger and a contributor to professional publications. She resides in North Carolina and can be reached at: www.thera-ssage.com and www.LauraAllenMT.com.
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