Community acupuncture isn't really a different style of acupuncture than more 'traditional' styles practiced here in Winnipeg (or North America for that matter.) It is more of a difference in intent and service delivery. Our intent is dual, to make acupuncture available to a lot of people (by making it affordable) and providing acupuncturists with jobs that they can count on. And by jobs, we mean honest-to-goodness T4 producing, employee-employer relationship kind of jobs. Those aren't really normal in our profession, and not everyone who graduates from acupuncture school is cut out to be their own boss.
We believe that acupuncture needs to be useful to society if it is going to live as its own profession. It can only be useful if it works, if people can use it and access it easily and successfully. By working, I mean, does it stand alone as a form of treatment and does it ameliorate human suffering. Accessing it and making it successful is a bit more subjective. For us in the community acupuncture (CA) movement, this means making it affordable and making our clinics easy to find and easy to book with and easy to use. We do this by systemizing all the business activities, making them easy to follow both internally (for our staff) and externally (for you, our patients). We make it easy to book with us, we have long hours so we can be available, and we try and keep our prices low so your treatment has less of a chance of breaking your bank account.
The model we follow is a low cost, high volume model. It started when an acupuncturist did some math that looked like this.... The going rate (in her city at the time) was $60, non of her friends or family could afford that price. She realized could treat 4 people in that hour, so if she charged those 4 people $15 each, she could make the $60 per hour that was the going rate. That was her (naive but inspired!) reasoning, and she went for it. And told people. And shared her story. This inspired others to share their stories, and here we are (and so is POCA, the organization that oversees community acupuncture!)
In order for this model to function well, we have to maintain high numbers of patients. About a year ago, we had to decrease our hours because we looked at our numbers and we were not doing enough volume to pay all of our acupunks (as well as all our bills) for all the hours we were open. So, we closed some shifts, one of our punks headed for another opportunity, and we shuffled around a bit. We have maintained high enough patient visits (volume) to survive and reorganize. And we are doing well.
Where you come in is to help keep us working well. Our patient numbers are stable (thank you), but we are able to help so many more people (I have 8 chairs free as I write this). So, we need people to find out about us, and come in and use us. We need butts in chairs! We have been doing some marketing with posters put up around town, on Facebook and Twitter, and we get some good response. We have done some talks at businesses. We are looking for some other ideas, and we are looking for you to help us by referring your friends and people in your network who are in need. We will have a basket of "To Woo You" cards at the front desk. Feel free to take some to give to somone you like. This will give them a discount on their first treatment ($15 instead of 35!) Share the love, the busier we get the more likely we can open more shifts, and be able to serve you even better!
Thanks in advance. Can't wait to see you in soon!