Grand Opening + Great Press= Good to Go in Sacramento! by Molly Fread
I've never seen the first three months of opening a new clinic go quite the way it's gone for SAP. Sacramento Acupuncture Project, a clinic launched with the help of a POCA microloan as well as with the copy-paste, wash-rinse-repeat success program of Oakland Acupuncture Project, opened on October 12, 2015. We are Clinic #3 in the (S)OAP family, with our other two offices located in Oakland, CA. We're about 90 miles northeast of Oakland in California's capitol city. I was the first punk to relocate from OAP to Sacramento to work at the new clinic, knowing that Whitney would be joining the staff a couple months later in January 2016. I figured it'd be nice to have a little breather-- certainly some slower shifts in the new, beautiful space as I fine-tuned all the in-house details, signage, marketing, and outreach for SAP. And that I did for 7 weeks. Almost all of our earliest patients found us through POCA punk and POCA patient referrals, which was amazing! People all over the area were telling friends, family, and coworkers, and they were so happy and relieved to finally have a POCA clinic arrive in their area. Patients were feeling better. Everything was great.
SAP was then given a major publicity windfall when a reporter from the Sacramento Bee, which is the largest newspaper in the region with a Sunday distribution of over 324,000, was tipped off about the affordable acupuncture at our clinic. The resulting article was published as the lead story of the Bee's Sunday Business section, with a 2 page spread and several large photos.
Overnight we went from a fledgling business to a fully booked clinic. I'd always wondered what it was like for those clinics who have a waiting list-- I found out. It's great and exhilarating and overwhelming all at once. I remain grateful that we opened with time-tested systems built to manage high volume. We discovered early on ways to streamline the process when you only use Invisible Reception and you are commonly seeing 7-12 new patients in any given shift. (Email them paperwork in advance! Then still tell them to arrive 10 minutes early!) Luckily, we were able to expand shifts when Whitney arrived in January, and things have settled down. Because the article also listed nearby POCA clinics, folks from the greater region were able to connect with Community Acupuncture closer to home, and El Dorado Community Acupuncture, to name one clinic, also saw an increase in patient numbers following the publication.
Whitney and I are ready to continue the growth of SAP in 2016, and hope to add a 3rd punk to the staff soon. We're hiring! We are forever grateful for the support of POCA and the camaraderie of our POCA community.