In this installment of Meet the Merchant, we speak to Bret Wojciak of Mountain Medicine Integrative Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona. Wojciak talks about serving his community, surviving, and even thriving during the pandemic.
Clover: Hi, Bret! Can you tell us how you decided to start your business?Bret Wojciak: I was born and raised here in Flagstaff. My parents owned two restaurants and a catering business here in town, so I’ve always been focused on public service. After college, I spent about 5 years as a professional river guide in Utah. I loved getting to know people over a week or two on those trips, but over time I realized that I was still saying goodbye to my clients after too short a time. I wanted to get into something where I could build more long-term relationships with people and grow roots in my community. So, I decided to go to Naturopathic Medical College in Portland, Oregon. When I finished with that, I came back home to start the clinic.
Clover: Wonderful! What’s your specialty, and how do you incorporate other practitioners at the clinic?Wojciak: I started out as more of a generalist in natural health, but these days I specialize in gastrointestinal issues and chronic pain. I also do regenerative therapy injections to help heal painful joints. We inject platelet-rich blood—the patient’s own blood, concentrated—to help the joints heal rather than just decreasing pain by decreasing inflammation. The joint comes out stronger and more mobile, and the patient can move forward, hopefully without needing additional treatment in the future.
When I first opened the clinic, it was just me and two massage therapists. We focused on creating a nice, comfortable space, and we slowly got more practitioners on board. Today we have a couple of administrative employees on staff, and our practitioners include a Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Stretch Therapist, and 8 massage therapists working on a commission basis. We handle all the scheduling, billing, payment processing, claims, and insurance, so they don’t have to worry about anything but taking care of their patients.
Clover: How do you find practitioners to work with?Wojciak: Especially for our massage therapists, their other options tend to be more spa-like environments, where they’re just doing relaxation massage. Our clinic gives the therapist more autonomy to actually practice the way that they’ve been trained, instead of maybe being dictated a certain way to do massages. Our practitioners can really utilize their strengths and their passions in treating their patients.
Clover: How do you find clients?Wojciak: Flagstaff is very much a word-of-mouth kind of town. Our best marketing program was offering a really great massage special for new patients to get them in the door. And then that’s our massage membership price, too, so if they have a good experience, a lot of people will sign up for that membership. When we first opened, we also participated in a lot of community outreach and health fairs, just to get our name out there. Once we got a small patient base, we switched gears and started doing a referral program, where patients can get a free massage or a discount on services for referring a new patient. So we really rely on word of mouth from our existing patients.
Clover: And how do you use Clover? Wojciak: We hit on Clover almost by default, because we were using Booker for scheduling, and Clover integrates with that system. Now we have a Clover Mini at our front desk. We’ve also been able to bring it to events and use it to sell gift cards, since it’s portable. It’s also easy to clean, which is great right now, during the pandemic. We can just spray it down and wipe it clean after each use.
Clover: How has the pandemic affected your business?Wojciak: We had to shut down completely for two weeks. And then for about a month and a half, massage was shut down in the state of Arizona, so we had to come back slowly and carefully, with a lot of precautions. At first it was just me and our chiropractor seeing patients, and I was doing a lot of telemedicine, as well. In mid-May we were able to bring back our full range of services with strict cleaning protocols and pre-screening for patients. We do require masks, and when we confirm appointments for the next day, we make sure they don’t have any symptoms and haven’t had any exposure. We do temperature checks when patients come in, and we clean everything patients touch between each appointment. It does add some time between appointments, but it hasn’t prevented us from handling a full patient load.
Before the pandemic, we were growing pretty quickly. We definitely took a dip for that month and a half during the shutdown, but since then we’ve picked right back up.
Read more of our Meet the Merchant stories for real-life stories of small businesses in action all over the country. Want to be featured in this series? Fill out our questionnaire, and if we can include you in a future interview cycle, we’ll send you an invitation!
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