In this episode, Ajay is speaking with Dr. Brook Sheehan, an entrepreneur and Chiropractor Extraordinaire at Cardiff Health and Wellness. Here, Ajay discusses the strategies to market an unconventional chiropractic service for reaching out to their ideal patients.
Doctor, Entrepreneur, Body Whisperer. Dr. Brook Sheehan is a Chiropractor Extraordinaire at Cardiff Health and Wellness, the go-to place for entrepreneurs to optimize their life as it relates to their physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being. As an entrepreneur, she knows firsthand the demands of business and the toll it can take on the body. She has dedicated herself to the work of supporting those world-changers become the best versions of themselves so they can outwork and outperform their competition for the long-term with the level of energy they started with.
Ajay: Good, good. But before we jump into your question, could you just give us a quick intro about your practice, what exactly you do?
Dr. Sheehan: Absolutely. So, I am a functional medicine, functional neurology chiropractor. We utilize a special technique in the office that is a combination of applied kinesiology. So, it uses muscle testing to detect stress points in the body. And then, through the technique, we're able to figure out what is the priority that the body is seeking for treatment.
So, for example, most chiropractors will just go ahead and adjust the spine when the patients come in. But we're going to be looking more like, "Okay, well how is the detox pathways? How's the liver functioning? How's the stomach? How are the other muscles? Is there imbalances?" And then kind of approach it that way. Take care of all of that, and then adjust.
And so, in practice, we see patients – we probably see about 12 patients a day. Because we have 30 minute blocks between – or not 30-minute blocks between, but 30-minute visits on average with each patient. Some patients stay with us for an hour. They have an hour-long treatment. So, it's not a high-volume practice because we utilize a lot of time with people.
Ajay: Okay. So, how do the people know about you? How are they coming to your place?
Dr. Sheehan: Currently, right now, it's by referral. So, the doctor in practice has been there for, gosh, he's been practicing for 43 years. And so he's built up a practice that's completely referral-generated. I've been a part of his practice. I was a patient of his in 2014, but I've been a doctor in his practice since 2019 – the end of 2019. And so, my approach, currently, to bring in my own patients into practice, is I'm doing a lot of different social media outreaches, I've been giving talks around our communities. At local groceries stores. All of that kind of stuff to help build the practice for me, right? I know when people retire, patients drop off. That kind of stuff.
Ajay: So, the doctor's planning to retire?
Dr. Sheehan: Yes.
Ajay: Or has he retired already?
Dr. Sheehan: No, he's planning to. He hasn't yet.
Ajay: Okay. That makes total sense. So, I am assuming that you have a website where you explain the difference, right, with what you are doing versus the traditional chiropractor?
Dr. Sheehan: Yes. Correct.
Ajay: I can see that that is one challenge. When the doctor is there, and he has enough patients, then it's not a problem, really. Versus when – to a normal person – I had no idea about your kind of chiropractor. I go to my chiropractor who uses laser therapy, and I'm thrilled with that. So, everyone is very different, and the challenge always is to educate people, right? You know, why and what's the difference. Good thing that you already have it. So, good! So, let's just – now that you are – so you are doing mostly social media marketing. And is it effective for you? Is it working?
Dr. Sheehan: It's working to some extent. I haven't done any paid advertising. I would say that I'm just cultivating the audience. I do have. The friend list that I have built up. And I'm doing Facebook Lives. I'm getting ready to launch a podcast, myself. And really kind of, like you talked about, patient education. Because it is educating patients on why we're different, and what they can expect in the office. I would say that, to answer this, don't know if it's working or not. A lot of the people that I have currently brought in have been more friends and family. I have just more recently – you know I mentioned to you that I'm doing community talks and those kind of things, but that happened just more recently. There hasn't been enough time to tell you if it's working or not.
Ajay: I see. So, that's interesting. I think I have a good idea of what you are doing, so, hopefully, you know, I can give you some useful tips about the issues. So, now I will hand over the reins to you. I will let you ask me questions, and you can – and I will answer.
Dr. Sheehan: I did prepare a few questions that I sent over as well, but. . .With your understanding of marketing, and my practice, and what we can kinda do, what would you think are some of the effective strategies for me to, I guess, market a practice where we bill by time and not necessarily by patient visits?
Ajay: The first thing I would say is you really, and I'm – most probably you've already done that. But take a step back, and you should have a very good idea of who is your ideal patient. What kind of problems that they would have. This is not all things to all people. Someone very young may not – I don't know that – you have to say, "Okay, what is different about me? And what kind of problems people have." So, first thing is having an idea of who your ideal patient is very important.
And then the second piece is really building the case in terms of why they should be using your method instead of the other methods. That's how they're traditionally. So, to me that is a most – that's a foundational work for marketing that needs to be done. And once you have that, then you start to look at – This is, I don't even talk about traditional marketing. And, just so that you know, even though we do additional marketing, personally I am from the ancient world. So, I have a lot of traditional marketing experience. That's what I started. Nowadays, it does not even make sense.
So, I would say, once you know your target audience, then it is a matter of trying to determine where you can find them. You're already doing a very good job going on Facebook. You can do a very targeted approach on Facebook. That's one thing I like about Facebook. So, again, the challenge is knowing who is your ideal customer. Second is where they are, where they congregate, so that you can reach out to them. And then it's a matter of, okay, what's the message? How do I tell them that they should be using it?
And when it comes to the money piece, I think that that, to me, is secondary. Once people understand the value, and they see the benefit, then the money becomes not that critical. Now, I know that you charge hourly. I'm assuming that you sell – the insurance pays for it, right? So, do the insurance pay on a per-visit basis for your practice? How does the insurance work?
Dr. Sheehan: So, we don't take any outside insurance. The only insurance that we do offer is for our Medicare patients. Because, as practitioners in the state of California, and I think nationally as well, we're required to take Medicare. But the only – so, it's a discounted rate. So, we charge them for the whole treatment. The whole 30 minute treatment is a certain price. But then for our Medicare patients, we charge what Medicare would pay us for the adjustment piece. Because we do laser therapy as well, like you mentioned your chiropractor uses laser. With that, that is a modality we use to help with the treatment.
Ajay: In that case, since you're not taking insurance, it's even – In a funny way, it's even better because now the patients have seen you for the value that you are bringing. And, like I said, once you know what kind of patient – not everyone. . .It's too big of a change, right, for everyone? So, you already know what patients are the regular at your place. And the best thing is to create a profile. To say, "Okay, my patient is – whatever." It could be male, female, or it doesn't matter. Of this age. Typically with these kind of issues.
So, once you have that laid out, then it's a matter of trying to figure out where they congregate and reaching out. And I'm sure that you already, since you are going out and talking, so you already have figured out how to explain how you are different, right? And why your method will work better for these people. I am saying, "for these people," but I am just asking you: Do you have a very specific kind of patient? Or anyone?
Dr. Sheehan: In terms of customer avatar, or patient avatar, right now, the people that we're seeing have been ones with really chronic cases, right? So, ones that, they've been to other practitioners, they've been to doctors, they've been to other alternative healthcare practitioners, and have not been able to get the answers necessary. Their problem still persists, and that kind of stuff. So, you know, has been working with people with a lot of chronic conditions and has helped people with autism and gut disorders and traumatic brain injuries.
And it's amazing because I'm in practice every day with him, and I get to see all of these things happen, and that – my particular heart is with entrepreneurs. And as you're talking about the avatar and the customers, that is where I've been focusing a lot of attention is really working with the entrepreneurial space where these people are really driven to create legacy and build businesses that are going to last and be rewarded as a result, right? That's what entrepreneurs think.
And so they don't like to spend a lot of time. They don't want to say or hear a doctor tell them, "Hey, you have to come back to my office three times a week for 36 visits, and then we'll reassess." Because they want to be in the office, right? They want to be making change. They want to be doing all these things. And so with our method, it's not – we're not telling patients, "Hey, you need to come here Monday, Wednesday, Friday." We're telling patients, "Hey, if your body is responding to the treatment that we're doing, then you might have to come back next week, or it might be two weeks."
We do testing to find out when is the next ideal time for a visit for that. With entrepreneurs, I think that that is something that they would gravitate towards, in some way, because it's like, "Hey, I can get my body optimized physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally while I'm driving the leg of my life, right? And not have to take so much time away from the office." Because a 30-minute visit, getting all of that in alignment with them, they might be able to hold out for another two weeks, so it might be one, two times a month that they have to come in versus 12.
Ajay: How far would people drive? So, the question for me, if entrepreneur is your target, then I would say, "Okay, how many of them are there where you are?" Or the geography that's possible. So, I'm in Orange County. Do you think an entrepreneur from Orange County would even drive to your place? Once someone can see the value, it's a different story, right? I have my doctor, my chiropractor. He has his patient who moved to Colorado and Georgia that fly. So, it's crazy, right? But, the thing is, that it's the first time convincing someone in Georgia to fly in seeing Dr. Barry would probably be impossible.
So, that's the thing. If you're targeting entrepreneurs, are there a lot of those people where you are close by? That is something – I’m not asking you to answer that question, I'm saying that is something that you would need to figure out because, like I was saying, you need to reach out to them and make sure that they are able to use your services, right? Like I said, if your entrepreneur patient moves to even L.A., they will drive, right? When they have problems. That is not an issue at all. So, that's my one thing. So, once you decide who you're targeting, that's when you have to start to look at where they are and how do I reach out to them, okay?
Dr. Sheehan: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. San Diego is full of, we have a lot of the biotech companies, but, so there would be a lot of them in this area dealing with chronic conditions, to kind of go back to what the current doctor is doing, we have people fly in from. Like, to come see us next week. We have people driving eight hours from Arizona that were in last week coming in again. So, he does have people traveling from all over just to come see him. But, I understand what you're saying in terms of first establishing the value, creating the value. Establishing myself as another doctor who has mastered the technique that he's doing, so that they see the value of that.
Ajay: And also even for the doctor, someone who does – like I said, I know my chiropractor. I know how people come from all over, but those are his patients. One or two cases, he has some referral that is, someone said, "You just have to go there; he's the one."
But, again, convincing someone to drive eight hours to see doctor would be pretty tough deal first time. Unless this person knows about your doctor. But once someone has used, then it's a different story. So, that’s good. So, I think we agree that that's probably the best thing to do is try to figure out where they are, your avatar. Where to find them. And then your challenge is to come up with the right message, right? To appeal to them. So, those are the two things that I would say, you do that, then you maybe – now you are – you have all the pieces, okay?
Dr. Sheehan: That's very helpful. Thank you so much.
Ajay: Do you have another question? I can answer that.
Dr. Sheehan: Absolutely. So, the next question is: I mentioned also that he's looking to retire soon, within the next few years. So, if there's anything from your experience or from your expertise that you believe that I can do to help set up a smooth transition. Because, obviously, some patients are only wanting to be treated by him, and there's a lot of patient drop-off, and retention might be a certain percentage. So, how do I set myself up for that?
Ajay: That, I can tell you from my experience. The best thing to do, and because you have couple of years that's great, is to start to have the exposure, right? Him being there and start with the patient that absolutely trusts him to say, "I’m here, but doctor is – I'm planning on retiring, and he's the right – she's the right doctor." And start to transition you in there. It may be some of it. Periodically, having some patients come in, and literally telling the patient – You don't have to – he should not be announcing it in any way, but transitioning gradually.
That I have seen with a couple of other doctors who have retired. They're medical doctors, obviously, but when the patients came in, they would say, "Oh, today, Dr. Armstrong is not here. So, but Dr. Kim is the right person." Or Dr. Armstrong calls the patient and says, "Dr. Kim is going to be seeing you, and he is a wonderful doctor, so he has all your information. And no worries." I think that your – the retiring doctor needs to have a transition plan, and how do you – how he explains to the patient, announces to the patient, it cannot be a broad announcement. Because then a lot of people – in the beginning.
Ultimately, we will have to do that, but hopefully by then most of the older patients will know. It's the most important patient, the older patient, in retaining them, right? And then once the regulars are there, once he has really retired, he can always say, "If you have any – while I'm retired – I'm always here for you, so you can always call me or text me if there's any problem." So, just to have the confidence. I think patients like continuity, and if you are – you become part of that process, then there won't be any problems. Your only challenge is to gain their confidence that you are also a good doctor. We understand how to treat patient his way. That's it.
Dr. Sheehan: Absolutely, yes. I can understand that. Thank you.
Ajay: And that should be – in a way it is easier, and it also is difficult, because you are also building your own practice, so it is – that's where there has to be almost a deliberate plan to say, "Okay, these two hours I'm going to focus on gaining confidence, so work with the doctor in there." So, the patients are seeing and they recognize you, and they start to become comfortable.
Dr. Sheehan: Thank you. That's very, very helpful. So, the third question that I have is: We had mentioned, or I'd shared with you about the entrepreneurs and wanting to that demographic, so one of the things is I plan to offer telehealth services. Like, for people that might not be in the area or can't get into the office. Because a lot of what we could do, we can do remotely and provide a treatment plan to do at home. Obviously, not require – we're not able to in their house, but – or from afar. Do you have any best software programs that you know that could help offering the telehealth services really streamlined and easy?
Ajay: I'm sure that you already know of Teladoc and some of these – the telehealth platforms that people are using, but what is interesting, what we are finding from actually one year, right, so I'm not saying it's a trend, but one year is still a decent time. But we are seeing that the patients have become very comfortable with telehealth, and there is so far their concern, they want to see you and talk to you rather than – I mean they don't care if they're coming through Teladoc or what platform.
You can have Teladoc, and frankly I've never checked how pricey it is, but then you can – Zoom, right now, offers a telemedicine version. And all it is a total encryption, right, for the HIPAA-compliance thing. If you want, you can have your development team just add the Zoom on your website so that you can do through Zoom meeting.
Or, like I said, the leader seems to be Teladoc, and there are a lot of others in there, doctor. Of these. So, you have to – when you are saying Teledoc, sorry, telemedicine, all you need is to be able to see the patient, right? See the problem or whatever they're saying. Oh, my knees are swollen, then you want to be able to see the knees, right? And say, “Move this way or that way,” correct?
Dr. Sheehan: Yeah, that's correct. And I didn't know about Teledoctor or the fact that you can have the capability with Zoom, so I really appreciate that. Thank you.
Ajay: Sure! And I would say since you are – you know Teladoc is really for doctors – doctors in the sense like it is integrated with all of the EMRs or everything, which is great. And the problem is that the cost goes up, right, because of that. So, Zoom could be the easiest thing for you because Zoom has a telemedicine version. It has the technology that complies with all the HIPAA issues.
Dr. Sheehan: That's really great to hear. Thank you!
Ajay: Okay, good. Unless you have any other questions, I know that we are getting up to our allotted time frame, but it looks like you have a very interesting time going through the change, and also expanding on the biz, so this is a very exciting time. And, again, I don't see why you won't be very successful at this you are seeking out. So, yeah, keep on doing it seems like what you're doing, and you already have a lot of things going for you.
Dr. Sheehan: Thank you so much, Ajay! I really appreciate that. And you answered all the questions I had, and I appreciate the time and the opportunity to speak with you today.
Ajay: Thank you, thank you. Same here. It was really nice talking to you.
Dr. Sheehan: You as well.
Ajay: Thank you, Doctor.
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