My initial success in introducing people to Rolfing through their health clubs was notably unspectacular.
Several health clubs in our area are accustomed to having independent professionals offer presentations on health issues to their members inside the club, and it was not difficult to have Rolfing incorporated in a series that might have included nutrition forathletes, stretching, sports medicine rehabilitation and so one. These presentations are usually offered in the early evening when club attendance is highest, and such events are typically publicized in the club’s periodic newsletter and wall posters; for the Rolfing portion, brochures were placed in a few prominent locations inside the club. Member attendance at these early Rolfing presentations, as at other health related programs, was typically six people or less.
Over time, the four of us at Rolfing Associates, inc., Thom Walker, Iginia Boccalandro, Jamie Redman and myself, have developed a more sophisticated and more intensive way of working with health clubs. This new approach has resulted in a much more productive relationship with several clubs and has evolved to the point where significant portions of some of our practices are drawn from these contacts. Our goal has been to have Rolfing be known and talked about in the club so that being Rolfed becomes part of the club-culture, a common practice among club members. We have not yet reached these goals, but we have progressed toward them in the last several years.
As with every successful practice building strategy we have undertaken, this one works because specific activities are organized as part of a larger plan which is consistently nurtured and sustained by us and because we attend to the organizational needs of the sponsoring health club as well as to our own need for new clients.
What follows is a description of the method for establishing such business relationships. We invite you to borrow and adapt as much of it as you like. In actual practice, you are likely to modify parts of this strategy to fit your particular circumstances.
GROUND WORK. We have found wide differences in receptivity of the six major clubs in our community, so if you are a solo practitioner trying this out in your area, meet with several of the clubs on an exploratory basis and then work with the more receptive one or two if you are energetic and organized and if this will be a significant part of your practice-building for a while. Working with a club that has a large membership may not be as important as selecting a club whose management is enthusiastic about introducing Rolfing to its staff and members.
STEP BY STEP. The first step is to telephone the club manager or the director of health and wellness programs, if the club has one. Introduce yourself; explain that you want to explore the possibilities of a mutually beneficial project to introduce Rolfing to their staff and members; and then ask if they would be interested in pursuing that. If the person has littleor no information about Rolfing, suggest that you send them literature and then call again after they have had time to read it. Do that and move toward the goal of a face-to-face meeting with the key person at the club.
At the meeting, start by discussing Rolfing. Be SUK this person has accurate information and don’t assume so until you verify this. Ideally, your purpose is to interest your contact person in both a program /activity about Rolfing and an ongoing, multi-staged relationship including the possibilities listed below (or your version of them).
– Offer a free first Rolfing session to your contact person following the initial meeting, so he/ she can learn more about Rolfing. Tell the person that if he/she decides to continue the series, you will discount the remaining nine sessions. At Rolfing Associates, inc., we give a 25% fee-reduction at this point.
– Request time to speak with key Hoff about Rolfing. You will need a minimum of at least 15 minutes. This may mean talking to managers of units in the club or spending time at a staff meeting for aerobic instructors, then with membership (enrollment) staff, then with weight trainers and so on. Prepare for these meetings by distributing introductory materials to staff members. Bring before-and-after pictures. Do five minutes of neck work on one of the staff (if you have time) and then have that person comment on how one side feels on rotation before you do the other side. Offer staff (or key staff) the same free first session and the same discount on remaining sessions if they choose to continue the process. Introduce the staff to as many elements of the plan to bring Rolfing to club employees and members as are known and ask for their participation in the plan.
– Obtain approval to leave Rolfing literature at the club in appropriate, high traffic areas.
– Offer gift certificates for a free introductory session to club members. In the five clubs where we are now active, we have given each club 50 such certificates. Members are informed about the existence and significance of these certificates in the club newsletter, special flyers, posters and/or by word-of-mouth via the staff. On-going encouragement of staff to actively identify and speak with appropriate people about these certificates is useful.
As members call to arrange their free first session, explain to them that they can have that session regardless of their intention to continue with the entire series. At the same time, let them know that after one session they will not have a full sense of what the long-term results of Rolfing can be for them and that they likely will have such a sense after three sessions. In other words, discourage one session curiosity seekers and lay the groundwork for their completing the series. By attending to this process, we have created a high percentage of people choosing to experience the entire Rolfing series after their initial free session.
– Have the club publicize complimentary half-hour sessions with you by pre- registration, at the club. Spend two to four hours at the club seeing people for 30 minutes each. In the session, you can answer questions, make an initial assessment of the person’s structure and do some spot work.
The club needs to sign people up for this. We have found it useful to call the people scheduled for these consultations a few days before in order to answer initial questions and confirm their appointment time. ?No-shows” are followed-up with a telephone call.
A high percentage of the people who attend these consultations become clients. Complimentary half-hour sessions can become a regular activity: for example, four hours or eight contacts per month.
– Plan a Rolfing demonstration at the club. This will be successful only to the degree that the staff is enthusiastic about promoting it on a one-to-one basis and in Masses. This is far more effective than heavy reliance on printed materials to publicize the demonstration.
We do, however, often prepare postcard sized notices about each demonstration which are left in piles in several places in the club. The postcard announces a ?Lecture /Demonstration /Slide Show”; notes the time, date, and place; the Rolfing logo; our organization’s name, address and phone; the word “Free”; and sometimes a brief listing of the major benefits of Rolfing. I will send you a sample one of these if you write to me.
Finally, we have recently developed a nicely printed poster announcing demonstrations, and it includes before-and-after pictures and has room to write in the specifics of a particular presentation. You may also receive a copy of this poster by sending a written request with $4 to me.
All of these possibilities can be renewed and re-offered from time-to-time, since health clubs tend to have a high turnover of staff and members.
– Finally, locate this strategy within a still larger strategy of practice-building. We have found that the most successful, sustainable long-term practice building efforts are those that originate with our current and former clients sending new clients, suggesting people for us to contact or returning for post-ten Rolfing themselves.
The on-going gift certificate program which I described several ROLF LINES ago, inquiries of clients of interested people for us to call, our active outreach to those people by letter and phone, all increase the productivity of client-referrals enormously. I will discuss these ways of working with clients in a future issue of ROLF LINES.
The point, in light of the discussion of a strategy for working with health clubs, is that this strategy, useful as it is, and many other programmatic practice building efforts such as nurturing professional referral sources, advertising, demonstrations, getting Rolfing in the media, a scholarship program and others I have described in ROLF LINES are all best held as stimulants rather than as the mainstay of your on-going efforts to have a full practice. These efforts can get a new practice going, jump-start a slow practice, and support your day-to-day practice building activity with clients and former clients. However, at this stage of public awareness and acceptance of Rolfing, they will not replace one-to-one, day-by-day conversations with our most productive practice building resource, those who are being and have been Rolfed.
?I believe that sometimes you just have to look reality in the eye and deny it.?
Garrison KeillorWorking with Health Clubs