Monsoon Friday, the Microcosm and the Macrocosm

“Hey, Keith, we have a bit of a water problem in the back of the treatment room”, Larry whispers calmly, as I pause, catch my breath, and try to figure out who’s next on the list to be treated. Somewhere deep down in the recesses of my mind is the old “oh sh*** you better do something” voice whispering. Somewhere else in there was the little gnome of reason calmly telling my “oh sh**” voice to chill out. “Just grab those extra blankets in back and use them,” I think I said to him. Larry heads to the back of the room, forever cool as the proverbial cucumber.

There we were, about three hours into our second “Free Friday” at Tucson Community Acupuncture. This day was different than our grand opening free day, we knew a little bit more of what to expect. We required appointments this time, and took only new patients unless our existing patients brought a new friend, then they could get treated too. ( plus we snuck in a few walk-ins). We weren’t finishing the space, rearranging the furniture up until the very last minute, or hanging up the sign above the door this time as the first peeps arrived, we kinda sorta had it together, mostly, hmmmm. It was a quiet lead up to the afternoon (almost toooo quiet), exactly the way a monsoon thunderstorm builds up over the thirsty desert, ready to sneak up on you and unleash it’s precious torrential rainfall amidst the crazy show of light and sound.

Looking back, the full impact of what Larry told me in that moment didn’t really hit me, maybe I was too focused on getting to the next person, maybe I was just too freakin’ blissed out by the group Qi of a full room, or maybe my blood sugar had crashed and I was running on vapor. The room had been humming now for some time when I first heard the cracks of thunder outside and the horizontal sheet rain buffeting our back door, a back door which you may have guessed, leads directly into the treatment space.

So I quickly needled the next newbie, who, thankfully, just wanted help relaxing. Whoooo. Easy one. GB 40 JG, ML Great variation – badda bing, all needles in, in just a few minutes, no fuss. Thank goodness for small miracles. I looked back at Larry from the other side of the room as I was needling her and then it hit me. I realized that he was very calmly trying to handle a frickin’ flood in the back of the room. The horizontal sheet rain had become a shallow pond outside that pushed up against our back door, which of course has a crack at the bottom. Now my O.S. voice jumped that little peaceful gnome and tossed him in the drink. So I finished needling and got Larry some help from our superstars, the unsung heroines of the day, Michelle, Tessa, and Shoyo. I popped briefly into a calm, well-organized reception area, where they were just hanging out, making everything run smoothly as usual, thinking to myself, hmmm, ‘it’s really nice in here, I’d like to hang out in here for awhile.’ Wait, snap back Keith , “Um, hi. Can I borrow one of you? We kind of have a little water problem in the back of the treatment space.” They had no idea there was anything going on back there. They were watching the storm out the front windows and kicking back.

So Tessa headed back to help contain the flood, and Larry and I kept on needling. Whew, that was unexpected. Glad the roof stayed on too. The Summer Monsoon huffed and puffed for a little while longer until it ran low on Qi, then things calmed down, just around the time that the last few freebies were finishing up. I was also feeling pretty lucky that we didn’t lose the power, even though it flickered several times. Needling blind in a thunderstorm - now that would have been pretty interesting (a small reminder to me to buy some flashlights).

The whole day, and the weeks leading up to Free Friday, have led me back to thinking more recently about the microcosm and the macrocosm. I wish I had some tremendous revelations to share with everyone right now about that, but I don’t. Just more awareness and observation that the mirrors of life are all around us. The timing of the storm and the experience was enough for me.

So, practically speaking in terms of CA land, what have we learned so far about doing Free Acupuncture Days? Number one, they work out beautifully! Secondly and equally important for me, it’s the unexpected that becomes so memorable. The first free day was pretty much frying pan into the fire for me, exploding my lingering doubts about not being able to connect with patients and treat effectively in less than ten minutes (35 appts each in 4 hours). This second time around we gave about 50 treatments total in 4 hours, staying closer to 6 each per hour - a bit more relaxed, with many no shows, we surmise due to the stormy weather. We had a waiting list of about 15 folks, most of whom were able to come in for free treatments the following days after Free Friday. At least 20 new patients so far from the second free day and rollovers have come in for further treatments in the 2 weeks following our event, some for multiple treatments. Our numbers overall are starting to increase, even when subtracting the free treatments we have given. Today is our first completely booked paying shift since we opened (if everyone shows up), and we have a good start on next week’s appointments. Seven weeks have flown by for us, and we feel like we’re popping the clutch and getting into second gear, soon to expand our hours. All thanks to a little push from Monsoon Friday and the Macrocosm.

This story was posted on August 8 2008 by keithananda.

Comments

  • August 8 2008 at 12:32 PM
    Justine writes:

    Free Fridays - Fabulous!

    Hi guys-
    Well… unlike you I haven’t had any crazy monsoon moments bringing water in (although there have been crazy monsoons where everyone sits peacefully in the treatment room and watches the rain pour crazily outside the window - once we even had hail with it!)... but like you I have had free Fridays (I think we shared info on this idea).  Anyways, glad they’re working out well for you - they are working well for me, too.  Today I have a full schedule - only just now I have a few minutes of quiet while waiting for the next patient…
    also good for you to have help at your clinic!  I am working on that one…
    Congrats and keep up the good work!  smile
    p.s. I have finally decided to call the newbies and confirm the day before- because I find the people most likely to cancel are the ones who get something for free, and it’s their first time coming.  And rather than waste the time in my schedule when someone else could fill it, I call - this worked out beautifully today as I called a man yesterday who said “oh, actually, I can’t make it” and hadn’t done anything about cancelling - and then someone wanted to make an appt. and filled right in.  So… you may want to consider that, too!

    Justine Deutsch, Lic. Ac.

    Acupuncture Together of Cambridge, MA

    http://www.acupuncturetogether.com 

      0 likes
  • August 8 2008 at 1:00 PM
    keithananda writes:

    yes yes yes - definitely call!

    i totally totally concur….

    we called this time ( Thanks to Sho!) and people cancelled and we filled from the waiting list—we didn’t calll the first time around b/c that was all walk-ins on the grand opening

    congrats back at you!  and how often are you doing your free friday, any more details you can share when you get a minute…

    thanks in advance,

    keith

     

    Keith Zabik

    Tucson Community Acupuncture 

    http://www.tucsoncommunityacupuncture.org 

     

      0 likes
  • August 8 2008 at 3:57 PM
    SarasotaCA writes:

    I remember the monsoons!

    Hey Keith

    Congrats on handling the situation, sounds like you guys kept your cool.  I grew up in Tucson and I remember those monsoons!

    By the way, how did you market your Free Fridays?

    Thanks

    Melonie (Sarasota Community Acupuncture) 

      0 likes
  • August 8 2008 at 4:36 PM
    keithananda writes:

    marketing for the free day

    hi Mel,

    Shosho hooked us up with Kathy’s poster service, a local woman who takes your flyers and hangs them up at local hangouts, libraries, schools, anyplace with a community board in Tucson.  We give her 100 flyers every 3 weeks.  She had a special for the summer here for like $100.  Great deal.  Saves so much time and energy doing this ourselves.  Many of our free folk saw the flyers and took the little rip-tabs we made at the bottom with our phone number and the event and date.  We also submitted the event online for free (because it’s a free event) in all the local newspaper websites and local radio websites list for free, some newspapers printed the event in their calendar listings.  We also sent out an email to our communities, yoga, soccer, school, etc., and the cool thing is that some folks in our communities forwarded the email on to their communities.  One new patient we traced back thru 3-4 email forwards.  pretty cool.  I carry cards and flyers everywhere with me and talk to people at any chance i can get, or leave flyers.  For the second free day, we also asked our patients to take flyers and pass them out to family and friends.  So except for KPS and the cost of flyers, all this was free.  We tried to figure out how we got a blurb (different than the free friday listings) in the community section of a local green paper and I went back to one of our email announcements and found the exact same wording.  Somehow this email ended up in the hands of the community news section writer, I can only surmise thru a forward.  

    -keith 

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