Lost A Sale, But Initial Phone Consultations — A Big Part Of Brilliant Customer Service
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NCCAOM Video Contest
The NCCAOM is excited to announce the launch of the second annual video contest "Because it Works!" 2015.
Going On-Site With Chiropractic Care
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has released a position paper highlighting the financial, clinical and patient-satisfaction benefits of providing chiropractic care at on-site corporate health clinics.
Free Yourself From the Pocketbook Practice
Let's take a journey together; there's an important lesson to be learned. Imagine a town or city just like yours.
Key Changes and Updates to the 7th Edition CNT Manual
Acupuncture Today recently interviewed Jennifer Brett, ND, L.Ac. regarding the updates to the CNT manaul.
Chinese Doctors Poke Holes in Australian Study
A recent Australian clinical trial, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2014 by Rana Hinman, et el., evaluating the effectiveness of both needle and laser acupuncture for chronic knee pain.
Creating Relationships at Southwest Symposium
The month of May brought many interesting activities. As I have said in many previous columns this year, this profession is moving in a very exciting direction. Make sure you are getting involved. If you're not, you just might get left behind.
Desert: A Metaphor from the Study of Genetics
In most of the human lives I know about, there are stretches of time which feel stagnant, or worse. We can feel adrift, or wounded and sidelined, and these times don't seem to carry much usefulness while they are unfolding.
Integrative Medicine for the Underserved: A Seat at the Table
Numerous organizations have risen to the challenge of providing care to medically-underserved populations and here we feature one such group.
Treatment of PTSD: An Opportunity for the Practice of Integrated Medicine
PTSD is widespread across America today. Not only do many of our honored men and women in uniform bring it home with them from the war zones they have been active in, but it often follows any life-threatening event people go through when their lives have been in danger.
Should You Change an Athlete's Natural Running Form?
Once past the ankle, impact forces travel at about 200 mph into the knee. In addition to allowing the quad to absorb force, bending the knee (E) prevents the hip and pelvis from moving up and down too much (F), which is important for injury prevention and efficiency.
Sports Medicine 101: Surgery or No Surgery?
In the world of sports medicine, many careers are saved by surgeries that correct traumatic damage to the body. Muscle tears, ligament damage, fractures, spinal disc herniations, and joint instabilities are a few of the issues frequently addressed with surgical intervention.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 3)
A patient with sacroiliac fixation and dysfunction ordinarily demonstrates a noticeable leg-length inequality when placed in the prone position on the adjusting table.
I was sitting in a Pizza Hut in Peoria, Ill., with my friend Reggie, sometime in the spring of my senior year in college, when he started doodling on his paper placemat. In those days, the company had a picture of U.S. on the mats, showing all the locations of the "Huts" in the country.
The Three Heater Official
This Official, belonging to the element Fire, is responsible for maintaining and regulating the heating system of the body, mind, and spirit. It is named for its function. The trunk is divided into three "burning spaces" or "jiaos."
The Source-Luo Point Combination, Part 2
The Da Cheng includes symptoms for the source-luo points that indicate when to use them for treatment. Yang defines the method as the guest-host (it is one of a variety of acupuncture point combinations called guest-host).
The Risks I Took
We all take risks when we choose this profession. For some, it is not knowing if you can make a living practicing TCM. For others, it is parental or cultural disapproval.
An International Life: An Interview with Mary Elizabeth Wakefield
I met Mary Elizabeth Wakefield during her class last summer in Seneca Falls, New York at the Finger Lakes School of Chinese Medicine.
Marketing with a Microphone
When given an option, it stands to reason that people prefer to do business with those they know, like, and trust.
Meet Cheyenne: Your Future Colleague
Allow me to introduce you to Cheyenne (Chey), the daughter of some of our family's closest friends. We attend and serve at the same church together, and have known each other for many years.
Nomenclature and Classification of Lumbar Disc Pathology: Version 2.0
The Nomenclature and Classification of Lumbar Disc Pathology consensus, published in 2001 by the collaborative efforts of the North American Spine Society, the American Society of Spine Radiology and the American Society of Neuroradiology, has guided radiologists, clinicians and the public for more than a decade.
News in Brief
Investigating the Cellular Impact of Mechanical Force; National Board Seats (Not-So) New Officers at Annual Meeting.
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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