Following tradition, I haven’t been productive in those days. I like to use them for contemplation, for thinking about what was important to me in the old year, what is no longer needed in the new year, and what I’d like to continue and explore more.
2011 was all about business development for me.
I started the year by reading a lot about marketing, then focusing on SEM. One year ago our website was ranking around pages 35-60 on google for “massage orlando” and similar keywords. Using “The Findability Formula” got me up to page 4 and there I got stuck. Eventually I hired a pro–found on Twitter–the Isle of Wight Computer Geek. He’s great. We jumped up to page 2 after just a few days!
Now we get a lot of new clients just because of Google searches. Great clients! Even though there are thousands of massage therapy clinics in Orlando, people don’t mind driving a long way to get to us–just because our website makes such a great impression.
Thanks again and forever to my web designers at Sinusquadrat.com— I’ve known Dennis since he was a student and helped me understand the needs of my always-breaking-down VW bus.
We’ve also added a third treatment room which I’m now sharing with acupuncture physician Michelle Alley.
Growth brings challenges: most of my employees and contractors were happy to see things moving forward, but one of them couldn’t handle the idea of more professionalism. We asked interior designer Julie Koran to help us with the reception area (check out before and after on facebook) and he found that we distance ourselves too much from our clients.
Of course that was only one of many complaints I heard about, and every step I made towards more efficient customer care was met with resistance. It got so bad that I went to bed and woke up while mentally rehearsing upcoming conversations.
Frequent client complaints led to frustrating meetings (“I’m not gonna change, Lu!”) and eventually the final clash. I’m grateful I never had to say the words… he made it easy for me by screaming “do you want the keys now?”.
I know I won’t drag it out that far next time. Lesson learned. Next time somebody tells me they won’t change, I know what I have to do.
We’ve also added Sharli Ward as another administrative assistant; Stephanie Worley will be our office manager now (instead of my wife, Deb Ofsowitz). Effectively, Steph made it from receptionist to COO in 18 months. Deb is my CFO and slowly stepping back from the day-to-day running of operations. She’ll continue with the newsletter, though!
It’s a pleasure to give talented people a good job. I had no idea I was going to be a boss… and I didn’t know I’d like it so much!
Managing people and developing the business takes time and effort, so I’ve reduced my availability for appointments. I’m still taking new clients, but eventually I’d like another Rolfer join our team so it’s easier for me to take time off.
I’ll be looking for relationships with medical doctors, especially general practitioners and pediatricians, but also neurologists and orthopedic surgeons. Fortunately more of them understand now that manual therapy and acupuncture can be a great help.
I’d love to take my Advanced Rolfing Certification, but that will have to wait until 2013.
My most important project in 2012 will be to renew my visa. Last time it took me four weeks, and I can only apply at the American Consulate in Germany.
The business development challenge I’m setting myself for 2012 is to be able to step back for a while.