Welcome, everybody to this episode of the Private Practice Business Academy (If you are reading this post please make sure to go to the podcast in itunes and leave a review). On the phone with me today is a respected colleague and friend, Dr. Peter Osborne. Dr. Osborne is the founder of the Gluten Free Society. Dr. Osborne’s very passionate about this from working with him and masterminding with him in the past. So Pete, if you can, introduce yourself to our audience and tell them a little about yourself.
Peter: Hi, Joe. First of all, thanks for having me on. It’s a pleasure to be here with you today. Yeah, so a little bit about me. I’m a chiropractor as well as a diplomat with the American Clinical Board of Nutrition, and a pastoral science doctor. I started clinical practice about 13 years ago, and probably like many, struggled to make it happen, to make it work. Over trial and error, over a number of years, we created a nice system that helps us to drive and generate patients into the office. It helps us build passive revenue streams. It helps us to stay very, very busy. We’re actually booking appointments two to three months out on average. And part of how we accomplish this is through what I like to call passion education. We provide an excellent resource and an Internet resource for people who are our patients, but also for people who are our potential patients.
I founded Gluten Free Society back in 2010 as a foundation to basically help people understand gluten sensitivity and its far- reaching effects. And in so doing we kind of created, we walked into this backwards. We didn’t really set out to try to create a marketing system for our office, but what ended up happening was by creating it, we created a huge marketing system for our office. And so not only were we able to help and reach, at this point we see about 1.4 million visitors per year on Gluten Free Society, so we were able to reach over a million people annually. But we’re also able to, from those million people that we’re helping, those people call our office and schedule consults and schedule appointments on a regular basis. So in a nutshell, that’s kind of what we’ve done. Now, after that success and after creating that type of environmental success, what I’ve done is I’ve created a system for doctors who are practicing functional medicine to kind of follow. That system is basically a blueprint that lays out what things they need to be thinking about to help to generate more revenue, to generate more traffic and potential new patient leads into their funnels, online funnels, so that they can have a steady flow of new patients coming into their office.
Joe: And we’re going to discuss more about that, Pete, especially do a lot of definitions as well because sometimes our audience will get lost in wording. So sometimes they won’t understand what exactly a funnel is or a lead generation is. So I’ll make sure we get into that. But I just want to come back to something that you said. Did you say you had 1.4 million visits?
Peter: Yeah, 1.4 uniques per year on Gluten Free Society.
Joe: That’s absolutely amazing. I want to translate what that means. So that means that’s how many unique visitors for the first time coming to your website and to the Gluten Free Society website to check out the information that you’ve laid out for them. You’ve targeted it as more of an education basically to the prospect, to your patient, right?
Peter: Right. So what we originally did was I created, I do a lot of diagnosing with gluten sensitivity in my office, and so I needed more than one hour of my patients’ time to really fully get them fully educated and understand what it meant to go gluten-free. So I created about 20 hours’ worth of video tutorials. And what we did is we took that information that was core and essential for our patients to understand, and we gave them access to that information with a password and a username. And what we decided to then do subsequently, it was so successful in our patients, we decided to extend that and offer that as a service to our non- patients. So we had kind of what we called membership-based website where people can sign up for membership and get access to those video tutorials to learn all about going gluten-free, learn about what it takes, what are the implications, all the different parameters because it’s a huge undertaking to go gluten-free for the average American.
Joe: Absolutely. I know you’re passionate about it. To the audience, when I first met Pete, that was probably the first time I really heard about gluten sensitivity and how it’s affected individuals, and how it brings all type of illnesses up front to the forefront. So I didn’t know about that so that’s why I asked about the patient education. Now for the membership site that you created for your patients, was this a free site for your patients to go on to?
Peter: Yeah. We just gave them a username and password, and we gave them access to the site. As long as they’re patients, we took care of them. And beyond that, again, we opened it up to the general public and allowed them to come on board. But of course the general public, we charged a fee. It was a fee-based service.
Joe: Excellent. So this kind of created the value adder right there by showing them that it’s a membership site, only a select few could come on. And you were educating them the whole time, but at the same time creating that celebrity factor where you were the guy to go to for this.
Peter: Yeah. And no doubt it helped. Not only did we do that but we also had kind of special bonuses. One of the things that I like to do is I like to interview other experts in gluten sensitivity and just get their opinions or takes or clinical experiences, and we make that available to all of our members. For example, one of our recent interviewees was Dr. Kenny Fine at Enterolabs. To pay for an hour of this man’s time would probably cost you $300 to $500. What we did is we interviewed him. We did an hour segment. He basically did an information dump and we were able to share that with the world. Well, not with the world as much as we were able to share it with all of our customers. So we like to provide those types of services where people can just get more than just educated but get that advanced education.
Joe: I find this extremely interesting that the entire basis of what you’re doing is just educating your customer or the patient so much so and not charging them. But obviously the ones that are outside of your network, you’re charging them. But still, you’re educating them so much so that they would have to come to you for more information, or to get treatments. And once they come in, what’s the process like? Kind of guide us through. If another practitioner is sitting here, I know we have a lot of physical therapists and chiropractors that listen to this. And nutritionists as well, and they might be thinking about adding a new revenue stream of Gluten Free Society on their site, and we’ll talk more about that. But how would that actually work? They see all this information on the website and the patient calls to come in. What happens next? Let’s take that step by step.
Peter: Let me just back up half a step just so I can kind of show you. We talked earlier about the concept of a funnel. And so if I can just elaborate a little, a funnel is basically where you take any potential person who’s a lead or a potential person who will do business with you, so a potential customer basically, and we offer them free information, free reports, free videos that they can watch, and we offer that in exchange for their email. So they give us their email, we give them free reports and great, valuable information, and then subsequent to that, we market them through our newsletter. So we have a newsletter that goes out daily. It just provides more and more valuable information. And so what you have is you have two kinds of potentials when it comes to new patients. You have the type of person who is what I like to call the DIY, the do-it-yourself person. They don’t really want to see a doctor, but they want some doctorly advice, and they want to have some tools that they can use to get better. And these are the things that we would call in the marketing world low-barrier offers, things that don’t cost a lot of money but could have a very strong and potential health impact for the person. An example of that would be where we offer a free newsletter. We also sell different supplements, probiotics, digestive enzymes, multivitamin, etc., that are helpful for people who are trying to restore their health after gluten has damaged their health. So those are low-barrier offers or law-barrier product offers. Some people, again, they’re do-it- yourself-ers, so they don’t really want to come see a doctor. The ones that like our products, over time, let’s say they get better, but they don’t get 100% better. These are the people who potentially end up calling your office and scheduling an appointment for a consultation because they’ve used your products and listened to your information and it’s improved their health, but just not improved their health to the level that they’re satisfied with. So now they want you in person to guide them and help them.
And so that funnel, so to speak, it basically gathers these leads or these prospects, and we offer them lower-priced items. And then some people don’t want the lower-priced items. They want to come in directly and make an appointment. Others, they want to try the lower-priced items before making an appointment, just to see if we’re legitimately going to be able to help them. But once they get to our office, so that was the half-step that I wanted to back up on, once they get into our office, the process is actually, it’s quite simplistic. I practice this style called functional medicine, which is basically where we look to try to find why a person is sick as opposed to medicating the symptoms associated with the person’s illness. So when a person comes in, we start with the fundamentals. We start with investigating vitamin and mineral deficiencies. We start with looking at food allergies and food intolerances. We start with looking at their gut function, how well they digest. We look at their bacteria within their gut. We look at all these different parameters and we try and rule out environmental toxins that they may be being exposed to. I’ve had patients with mold allergy. I’ve had patients who had severe mercury poisoning. So I mean, it’s different for every person, but we rule those fundamentals out and we do so through very specific types of lab tests.
And then we can sit down with these patients once we’ve got this information back, and we can go back through and lay out their blueprint, what is it that this person as an individual needs to do about their lifestyle, their diet, about their exposure in the environment, whatever the case might be. And we lay out their blueprint as a unique individual, their road map to start getting them better. And so part of this process for us in terms of profit, of course we charge for our services. We charge for lab testing. We charge for supplementation. We charge for office visits. So we’re able to have a successfully functioning and running clinic with relatively low overhead and low manpower, and still turn a nice profit margin. Everybody wins, right? Your patients get better. Your bottom line is healthy. That’s the kind of relationship doctors should have with their patients.
Joe: Absolutely. Thank you for going back that one step to explain the funnel process. Those profit margins, especially for the fact that since, I don’t want to call it a one man show, but it’s almost as if it’s a one man show, but you have your low-barrier offer where they’re basically buying these supplements from you. And then obviously if they’re coming in to see you, so you have the office visit. They have the exams. They have the testing. And then afterwards, are you giving them more supplements I’m assuming as well, right?
Peter: Well, they do, depending on what they need. One of the things that I will not do with patients is I won’t just put them on a bunch of pills just to sell them pills. I really want to know uniquely what it is they need. So that’s why we go through the process of evaluation. And then once we know what they need, for example, Joe, they may be vitamin C deficient, and we identify that through laboratory workup. They may be vitamin B12- definicient, or zinc-deficient. I don’t want to just give them a bunch of zinc or B12 because they’re tired and I think it might help them. I really want to target specifically what I know they need and what I know will help them.
Peter: That’s kind of the way that works. And what that does, it does a couple of different things. One is it increases your clinical outcomes. It improves your clinical outcomes because instead of just randomly throwing a bunch of pills at people, you’re actually targeting what they need. But two, it makes your patient happier because they have a black and white to follow. And sometimes with compliance, as doctors, we know what our patients need to do. We have feelings, or we have intuitive feelings, or we do clinical investigation where we have enough experience where we know what a person may or may not need. But sometimes a patient needs a black and white to see what the need and when they have, that increases compliance. So what we find is that by testing it also allows us to have a much higher compliance factor in our patients. So now instead of just maybe trying the supplements out for a month or two months, we get them on a six-month program where we’re monitoring their improvements and monitoring their outcomes so that we know that they are improving. And the other thing that we offer in our office is kind of another form of recurring revenue is we offer a discount on patients who give us a credit card and leave it on file. We will give them a discount on their supplements to basically improve their compliance. We know that if we give them a break as well that they’re going to be more likely to stay with a six-month program as opposed to not.
Joe: Not staying with you. That’s excellent. That’s a tidbit I want to make sure everyone caught onto that, the recurring revenue factor. Even though, I don’t want to say you’re losing money, but even though you’ve discounted a certain amount for them, but you’re guaranteeing them to be on for six months, which is a great compliance factor. So it’s almost like a continuity program which you’ve developed with your supplements. So excellent, excellent point right there. I want to touch base on one more thing. We talked about the fact that you kind of stumbled on this from backwards. I’m not sure if you planned on re-engineering this from the end and working your way to the front, but you said you kind of stumbled onto Gluten Free Society, how it all came about from the beginning when you were struggling. Did you know in the beginning that this would be as big as it’s gotten?
Peter: Well, I started and I always had a high hope and a high endeavor for being successful in practice. And multiple things to me mean success, not just how much money you make, but obviously you’ve got to keep your doors open to help people. And so doctors going out of business helped no one. But my ultimate goal, ultimately at first it was just to provide a source of education that I didn’t have time to spend with my patients. So what actually happened, Joe, was, funny story. One of my patients came to me and said, “Hey, I like your website. Are you monetizing your website?” And I said, “What do you mean, ‘monetizing your website’?” Well, he says, “Let me tell you something about my business.” He says, “I own a website. It teaches people how to open and run their restaurants. And we charge $14.95 a month and we have about 8,000 members.” And I thought, wow! To me, that was extremely powerful because it allowed me to think, hey, how could I monetize the situation that we worked so hard to put together that we’re not making it available to anybody beyond our patients. How can we make this available to the world and actually help us earn and income where we can see fewer patients, right? Most doctors want to see less people but the people they do see give them much greater degree of care, much higher quality of care. And I firmly believe in that model and that you can spend the day with eight people instead of 48 people, giving a much greater form of care, and have a much greater happiness in your own personal life. And be much less busy in terms of running around with your head cut off trying to remember this person’s problem or that person’s problem. You can really focus in on the people you are treating and help them get better. So we kind of stumbled on it. It was kind of a passive suggestion just by another patient in my office. And then I ended up investigating it further and just started putting the pieces of the puzzle together. That’s when we decided to launch it online and make it available to the general public.
Joe: Excellent stuff, Pete. It’s amazing. For the doctors that are listening to this podcast right now, they’re probably wondering how do I make my information available to the world? Obviously you started with a website. What do you think your best marketing tool right now is that’s available to your patients or your customers?
Peter: Well, I think if a doctor is trying to somewhat replicate what we’ve been able to do and achieve, I think ultimately the first, there’s a handful of things that I think you’ve got to have in place essentially to be successful. And one of those is you need to have a blog-based website. You’ve got to have a platform that spreads your message. And it needs to be a platform that you own, not a platform that somebody else owns. Because you can do a Facebook fan page, and although they can be helpful and important, the problem ultimately is that you don’t own it. And so Facebook decides to change the nature of the rules, then what you’re left is basically you’re left empty-handed, right? I know some people that have built Facebook fan pages that are huge but don’t have their own websites. And so a fan page is great, but ultimately you want to be able to own the information that you’re processing and publishing, and you want it to be under your control. So I recommend having a blog-based website. I recommend having a team of people around you who can do the technical work. As a doctor you don’t want to become the guy who wears all the hats so to speak, right? You don’t want to be the guy who answers the phone. You don’t want to be the guy who knows how to program HTML. You don’t want to be the person in charge of all those different things. You want to be able to have a team around you that can help you so that all you have to do is say, “Hey, do this,” and then push go and then it happens. So those are probably two of the main elements that I would suggest people have, or doctors have, in place is their own blog- based website. And then have an idea for a niche, Joe. I’ve treated gluten from the inception of practice. Again, for me, it was because so many of my patients got better that I developed a passion around educating people around it. It wasn’t something that I picked, so to speak. It was something that me picked me. But I really highly encourage physicians who are new and trying to get started to find a niche, to find something that they have a lot of passion for or they’re passionate about. Because if you’re going to be doing this on a regular day in and day out basis, you don’t want it to be something that bores you, right? You want it to be something that you’re very passionate about, you can write about, you can blog about, you can make videos about. You could virtually do it forever and you never get bored of it. So pick your niche.
I’ve had doctors who I’ve trained, I’ve had them be successful in the niche of inflammation. I’ve seen them be successful in the niche of neuropathy and carpal tunnel syndrome, and cardiovascular disease, and thyroid conditions. I’ve seen them be successful in the field of infertility. So there’s a number of niches that are available. Some people would call this specialization. I recommend finding a marketing niche, something that allows you to generate a message to the world. Because most functional medicine doctors are what we would call jack of all trades, like they do a lot of everything. They treat a lot of everything and they do a really good job of it. but from a marketing perspective, you can’t be a jack of all trades. You have to have a niche so that you can market effectively to that niche. And what’ll end up happening is you’ll book your office with all the patients looking to find you. Let’s say if you’re a thyroid doctor, they want to have a natural thyroid option. You’re going to book your practice out and then you’ll get a lot of over-spill. People will start referring their friends and families, maybe not even for thyroid conditions but because you did such a good job with them functionally. Now they want to investigate you helping them in other arenas or other areas.
Joe: Wow, that was some great information that you just imparted right there. I hope everyone actually wrote some of that information down, but I’m just going to recap it really quick. The fact that you’re suggesting the blog-based website, which is a great tool, and the fact that you niche-d down. You mentioned being passionate about something like that. I come a cross a lot of practitioners that ask me a question without consulting with me. They just say, “Hey, look. I just need your help. Can you tell me which niche to go after?” It’s such a loaded question when I get this. I meet people at conferences and they say, “Hey, look. I see what you’re doing with the podcast and the marketing. Can you help me with my practice?” And it comes down to which niche should I go into? It’s a tough question. Sometimes I’m like, “I can’t help you there because I don’t know enough about you. I don’t know about your demographics or who you treat.” So it’s a double-edged sword. We want you to niche down, but you’re going to have to do some legwork on your own. As you can see what Pete has done over the years and has become very passionate about. It’s a topic that he really took a lot of interest in and went completely forward with it. Another point that you brought up is not to be the guy that wears all the hats. For a lot of doctors out there, this is the wall that no one wants to get past. You’re a great physician. You’re a great healer. But you don’t want to be the guy that’s writing HTML code to design a website, right? That might be the point where you get stuck a little bit. But it’s always good to have a good team in place, people that can do this. Because again, this is not in your 5% at all. Pete, you’ve worked with a lot of top people in the industry. You’ve actually created programs for this to teach other doctors. Talk to me more about those programs that you teach other doctors about how to do this.
Peter: We have a couple different programs. The first one’s kind of our beginner program and it’s the Functional Medicine Blueprint. What it is, is it’s a book and it kind of breaks down exactly what doctors need to do to begin the process of replicating our success, from picking a unique selling proposition or picking a niche all the way down to what supplement companies to use; what lab companies to use; how to get your blog set up successfully; whether or not a Facebook, or YouTube, or Twitter, or Pinterest, which ones work better; how your staff spends the majority of your time; how to market your clinic externally so that you can start making an income right away if you’re just brand-new in practice. So we kind of go through the basics of getting a brick and mortar/online funnel set up so that you’re generating new patients online and you’re setting yourself up for success and for what I feel like is one of the most important stress- relievers in a doctor’s life, and that’s passive revenue. Joe, we’ve all been in a situation where you see patients every day, and that’s how you make your income. But let’s say you neglect your family because you have to be at work and now it’s vacation time. Maybe you don’t go on vacation or maybe you don’t take that vacation. Because when you do, you take a huge pay cut for the week out of your office. That passive revenue allows you to take that vacation. It allows you to be gone for an extended weekend several times a year if that’s what you choose to do. Because when your doors are closed on your clinic, you’re still earning revenue. You’re still earning an income.
So we kind of lay out the road map for doctors to establish that fundamental foundation within their clinic so that they are de- stressed. So that every day you come to work, you want to be at work. You’re not overworked. You’re not working and burning the candle at both ends. So the second area, we also have that blueprint and then we have a back end product, which is a membership for doctors where we give them access to a lot of the different office forms and different things that they need, audio and interviews from other experts. So we just kind of offer a lot more insight into their practice. And then we also have a full coaching program. In my coaching program, we have a limited size in our coaching program because we like it to remain intimate. What we do in this program is we basically reconstruct and rebuild practices, whether a doctor is trying to transition from traditional medicine into functional medicine, or whether a doctor’s brand-new, just trying to make a name and make a success. We kind of cater to all those groups, just to try to get them in the right direction. But those are the three basic programs that we offer. That’s available through, we have a website for that. It’s called MarketFunctionalMedicine.com. They can get more information about our programs there as well.
Joe: Great. And I’ll make sure all the resources that you’re providing right here will be on our resource page, the PrivatePracticeBusinessAcademy.com. So was that a book that you said? The Functional Medicine Blueprint? Was that a book that you have out?
Peter: Yeah. It’s an instant download, so the doctor picks it up. They can get the download instantly. You don’t got to wait for shipping. It just kind of, again, takes them through the basics. It’s kind of like taking somebody by the hand who knows nothing about business.
Peter: And just kind of gives them the road map of where they need to begin and start.
Joe: And there a lot of physicians and doctors that I have met and consulted with that have a difficult time with the business side of it. So this is something that they would really find helpful. Especially if they just come to your website. And that’s MarketFunctionalMedicine.com. They download the book, the PDF file that they can get, and go through it right away and see if this is something that can help their practice grow. And if not, this is still a way of kind of seeing how you can apply this, the same concepts, to your practice. A lot of stuff that, Pete, that you speak of, it’s funny but you would think that an adult GI doctor or a pediatric GI doctor would be doing this as well, speaking of gluten-free and allergy testing, and checking on the line. This is something that they might find very useful as well in their practice, beyond the fact of just treating patients. Because as you said, we’re all just looking for that passive revenue model. There are doctors that listen to this podcast, they’re in private practice, from chiropractors to physical therapists, acupuncturists. Everyone knows that when they’re not working, you’re not getting paid. Unless you have that leverage and you have a staff in place. And even then, you want to make sure, can you keep taking those vacations? Can your staff function without you? So a lot of great points in this interview. Pete, I know your time is valuable. I just want to touch base on one more thing about the Functional Medicine Blueprint. I know you do events. Is it once a year or more than once a year? If they want to see you in person, how can they get more information about getting in contact with you and seeing you live, or even learning more about you?
Peter: I have several days a year where we do what’s called an immersion day where we invite just a handful of doctors at a time to come over to my practice, and we kind of walk them through everything we do in the office and try to get them accelerated into getting their practice off the ground. We just call it a full immersion day. I do a few of those a year. The next one is not scheduled yet. Market Functional Medicine will have that scheduled here soon. But we do big events as well. We do one big event every year. It’s called the Functional Medicine Success Summit. To my knowledge, Joe, this is the only event that focuses strictly on the building of your business. We don’t teach clinical protocol. We’re not teaching doctors how to become functional medicine doctors. We’re teaching them how to be successful, doctors who are already functional medicine doctors and they’re just not successful. We’re trying to teach them how they can tap into success. Because like we said before, the success part of success is keeping the door open. You can’t help people if your door’s closed because you don’t have business savvy. But we have this event once a year. Our third annual one is coming up in October. I believe it’s October 25 and 26. We have the Functional Medicine Success Summit right here in Sugarland. Actually, it’s just outside of Houston. We use the Marriott ballroom here in Sugarland to host that event. It’s a stellar event. It allows doctors to come in, not only learn from some of the smartest, most successful clinics in the world that are already doing functional medicine, but also to be able to network with each other. A big part of passive revenue as you know, Joe, is being able to affiliate with like-minded individuals who may be, for example, I’ll give you an example. One of my doctors in my coaching program, he’s written a cookbook on the paleo diet. The paleo diet is a hot commodity right now, and it’s also a very beneficial clinical tool. He wrote a cookbook on it that I was able to offer to the people who subscribe to me. So we sold several thousand dollars’ worth of cookbooks for him, and I made a commission off of that. And so having the ability to be in a room with other like-minded doctors who have different programs and who have different products that you can offer to your list that might be beneficial is an invaluable resource. We’re all in this to help patients, and we all have different unique niches and unique selling propositions and different values that we can add to each other, I think ultimately everyone wins even more.
Joe: Absolutely. And sometimes they’re just looking for someone that is on the same page as them. Because not every practitioner is as business-minded or open about what they should be doing with their practice. And it’s very true in a lot of practices out there. They probably would look at you as competition. And sometimes working within groups or like the one that Pete has and the one that I run, it’s so important that it gets you to open your mind up and work with others, and see what’s going on in different parts of the country, in different practices. It really does make the explosion of your practice grow so much faster. Great information. Pete, I’m looking at your website. Well put together. I love it. I’m going to make sure that we have this link on our resource page because this is something that has amazing information. I want everyone to make sure they head over to MarketFunctionalMedicine.com. There’s a ton of information on there, as well has how to contact Pete. If there’s more questions, if anyone has any questions for Pete, is there an email they can reach you at, Pete? Or do you want them just to go to the website?
Peter: Well, either one. They can reach me at MarketFunctionalMedicine@gmail.com.
Joe: Okay. Got it.
Peter: Or they can just reach out to me through the website. Either way is fine. My assistant’s name is Casey. She handles a lot of the initial consultation and initial contact with many of the docs that we talk to. But anybody who really wants to take it to another level and get serious, if they want to schedule a little time to call, I’m always willing to try to reach out and help these guys.
Joe: Okay. We’ll put a little warning so that poor Casey doesn’t get flooded with phone calls. Everyone give Casey a break and don’t all call at the same time. Because I know there’s a ton of information that Pete has shared today and they’re great nuggets, but there’s so much more. We just kind of scraped the tip of the iceberg on this. There’s a lot more questions, but we’re both on a hard time stop today and we have so much time. So Pete, once again, I want to thank you so much for being on the show. I think there’s a ton of information on here. We’re definitely going to make sure we invite you back on and share some more stuff. Maybe right before your next event so we can see how far the practice has grown, and maybe there’s some more tips and tricks that we can introduce to the audience as well.
Peter: Yeah. Thanks, Joe. I really appreciate you having me on. And if there’s anything in the future I can do for you, just let me know.
Joe: Absolutely. Once again, I want to thank everybody. Again, make sure to stop by Pete’s website. Leave a comment at the bottom of the podcast. Let me know your thoughts. If you have any questions, leave a message. We have the little tab on the side of our website; PrivatePracticeBusinessAcademy.com. Leave me a message. Leave some comments about this audio. Let me know what you’re thinking. We’ll make sure that I send them out to Pete and have Pete answer those questions for you as well. Once again, everyone, thank you for listening to this episode of the Private Practice Business Academy. Take care, and I’ll talk to you soon.