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Put Your Best Professional Foot Forward
By: Acufinder Editorial Staff

The following tips from small business experts can help you put your best professional foot forward and ramp up your practice:
 
Have a Dedicated Buisness Phone Line
Are you using your personal cell phone for business?  Having a dedicated phone line for work ensures that you don't answer a patient's call unprofessionally or after hours. When answering your practice phone, answer in a professional manner.  For example, you might say, "Qi Acupuncture, how can we enhance your wellness today?"

Have a Dedicated Mailing Address
Consider getting a P.O box  if you don't have a fixed practice location, are subleasing a room in another practice or wellness center part time, are a mobile acupuncturist, or are practicing out of your home. The post office also offers street addresses -- just ask about your options before you start renting a box or street address. These options allow you to set up a mailing address for clients and suppliers without revealing where you live or having to change your mailing address if you change offices. In addition to being convenient, a dedicated mailing address provides confidentiality and security. Some P.O. branches offer 24-hour access, which is perfect for practitioners with early morning or evening extended hours.

Have Your Own Domain Name
Having a domain name gives people a quick and memorable way to find you. Word of warning: most services that provide free domains have a long, wordy and impersonal URL. When setting up your domain name keep it short and simple.  MOZ recommends keeping your domain name under 15 characters. Don’t pick a name that doesn't represent you well. Carefully consider the name and use .com's only.  Most people assume your domain is a .com, so if you choose something else like a .net or .us, you could miss out on new client leads. Also avoid hyphenated domains, skip numbers and keep spellings traditional.

Have A Professional Email Address
Are you still using a free personal email account for business?  Free email accounts are great for emailing friends and family. However, when emailing current and prospective patients, you want professional and consistent branding. To accomplish that, you need to create a business email address using your domain name with a reliable email provider.  While many online services provide add-on services, you will want set one up with a dedicated email provider to get the best features and reliability.   Office 365 and Google Apps are just a few services that offer business-class email.

Use Business and Appointment Cards
While business cards may seem outdated in the world of social media, they are a great way to supplement your word-of-mouth marketing.  Your business cards can be left at other businesses that complement your practice. Further, patients are able to share them with their contacts. Use professional printing services provided at an office services store such as Kinkos or Staples or, order them online through a company such as VistaPrint, CafePress or Moo.  Popular styles for health care practitioners and service industry members include lines on the back of the business card to write down the next scheduled appointment.    Hand a patient your card following every in-office consult.

Look the Part
You are a healthcare professional.  Being well-groomed and self-assured visually communicates that you know your job and will make every effort on the patient's behalf.  Have an office 'uniform.'  If a white coat or surgical scrubs aren't right for you, a plain collared shirt or nice blouse with slacks or a skirt present a more polished look. Consider getting a name tag and shirts with your company logo to reinforce your authority and brand identity. You can order name tags and branded shirts online fairly inexpensively through companies such as VistaPrint, CafePress or Moo.  

Communicate in Everyday Terms
When investigating a potential acupuncture treatment, patients want to know how it is going to help them with the issues they are facing. Most patients aren't coming in for the history and philosophy behind the treatment.  Speaking in terms they don't understand can cause frustration.  Speak to patients in everyday terms that will make sense to them and that can be easily communicated to their other healthcare providers.

If running a business isn't your forte and you can't afford to hire an office manager, take advantage of free classes offered for small business owners through the Small Business Association (SBA), SCOREGSA and state and local small business development organizations.