Dr. Brandy Zachary is a powerful and unique functional medicine teacher and award-winning practice owner. She has taken functional practices from zero to $1.8 million in mere months and has worked with thousands of health entrepreneurs on their branding, marketing, sales, speaking, clinical and practice strategies. Dr. Z helps practitioners grow 6 and 7 figure business and is passionate about the business of health and rapid practice growth.
This episode of Designs for Health shifts gears away from the clinical side to all things business. Together we explore the common problems that overworked, under compensated health practice owners face and the strategies that will help them develop a better business. We discuss essential business growth practices, including effective marketing, building a better team and her recommended business tools. Dr. Z is on a mission to help burnt-out practitioners improve their quality of life, consider their own needs and long-term future first, and craft a practice that they are excited to continue working in for years to come.
I’m your host, Evelyne Lambrecht, thank you for designing a well world with us.
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[2:10] Dr. Z’s transition into functional medicine and a health practice consultation business that she directs from Mexico.
[5:52] Tactics for rapid business growth including teaching and sharing content with others.
[7:11] Essential business growth practices include effective marketing, an attractive offer and fulfillment.
[9:15] Ideas for improving communication and engaging clientele at in-person events.
[10:22] Dr. Z’s Practice Plan and mentorship models help practitioners focus on their long-term plan.
[15:35] Bringing on additional practitioners is not the only answer to creating a dream practice.
[17:08] First steps to move away from the daily grind that burns out so many health professionals.
[19:38] Strategies for forging effective collaborations between health practitioners and nutritionists and health coaches.
[24:00] The importance of maintaining a health license even after leaning into health coaching.
[27:56] Best practices for creating successful ads in today’s today’s saturated marketing world.
[33:16] No cost consults are sales calls that will increase interest, but may not be the best route to generate business.
[37:11] Tactics for reconciling the high costs associated with dedicated care with the desire to help as many patients as possible.
[45:32] Dr. Z’s top tools for enhancing your functional medicine business and bringing the right people onto your team.
[54:12] How to connect with Dr. Z.
[55:10] The business tools that Dr. Z has changed her mind about using in recent years, her favorite supplements and preferred health practices.
Voiceover: Conversations for Health, dedicated to engaging discussions with industry experts, exploring evidence-based, cutting edge research and practical tips. Our mission is to empower you with knowledge, debunk myths, and provide you with clinical insights.
This podcast is provided as an educational resource for healthcare practitioners only. This podcast represents the views and opinions of the host and their guests, and does not represent the views or opinions of Designs for Health Inc. This podcast does not constitute medical advice.
The statements contained in this podcast have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Now, let’s embark on a journey towards optimal wellbeing, one conversation at a time. Here’s your host, Evelyne Lambrecht.
Evelyne: Welcome to Conversations for Health by Designs for Health. I’m your host, Evelyne Lambrecht, and on our show today I’m interviewing Dr. Brandy Zachary, known as Dr. Z. Welcome to the show, Dr. Z.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
Evelyne: The show is going to be a little bit different than usual, because we’re talking about business today rather than all things clinical. And honestly, it’s just as important. I know when I work with practitioners, I love talking science. But I also love talking business.
Dr. Z is a powerful and unique functional medicine teacher, a successful fifth-generation female entrepreneur and award-winning practice owner. Her most recent functional medicine launch went from zero to $1.8 million in mere months. Dr. Z has worked with thousands of health entrepreneurs, including MDs, dos DCs, MDs, PAs, nurse practitioners, RNs, pharmacists, acupuncturists, and other nutritional practitioners on their branding, marketing, sales, speaking, clinical and practice strategy.
She loves to teach about the business of health and rapid practice growth. She has extensive experience growing six and seven-figure practices, and she’s also the creator of the Lab DX software.
So Dr. Z, what is your story? How did you go from running a chiropractic practice in California to now living in Mexico, helping other practice owners? Is this something that was always part of the dream, or was this spurred on by Covid? I’m curious.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Mexico wasn’t on my radar, although when I look backwards, I love Talavera pottery and the colors. And we joked that my functional medicine clinic looked like you just needed chips in guacamole, because it looked more like a restaurant you’d hang out in, and patients loved to hang out there.
But no, I came to the Caribbean coast for the aquamarine waters. And quite honestly, I worked remotely for a couple years before it just hit me, I could be anywhere. So that’s really what sent me here. And there’s a lot more things to say about it, but as far as your first question, having a chiropractic practice, my first practice goes back, oh gosh, over 20 years.
And it was great. I was a science geek, so I published research, and that’s really sort of what I was drawn to. But I had a car accident that put me out of practice. And I didn’t think I would do anything in healthcare again.
But I coached and consulted over 20,000 business owners, and most of them were in the health and wellness field. So I taught them how to build a business. That’s when I created the world’s first personality profiling system that was visual, that was published by McGraw Hill out of New York.
So I was invited to teach and speak on stages, and corporations, and universities, and all of those things. So I did a lot of that, and it was quite a big business. And I thought I would do that forever.
And then I got terribly sick. So that’s how I found functional medicine, was as a patient. And it was quite the course correction in life. I had a lot to lose. And so I was a good patient. And I went to see all my doctors, and all my specialists, and did everything they said. And I just continued to get sicker and sicker.
So I was a single mom. I had to move home to live with my mother and my daughter. Very humbling. Give up multimillion dollar home where I was living, and business, and just everything. Start over in life.
And the first thing I had to start over with was getting healthy. So I feel like I read PubMed, and I went to practitioners myself. I reactivated my license, because I was doing all the business training at that time. I needed to order my own labs and really solve my own health mystery first. And that’s what brought me into functional medicine.
So I had been declared permanently disabled by social security in the US, that I’d never worked again, and I was in bed 22 hours a day. And so that’s not much of a life, didn’t want to live that. So thankfully functional medicine has just given me so many gifts.
I opened a small clinic. I understand all the fears people have, and it really felt like learning everything all over again. But I grew so quickly, I had to do two office expansions within that first year, and go from four walls to 22 walls. And then multiple practitioners. And I jammed about 15 years of practice into seven. So saw a lot of patients, and it was an amazing learning tool.
Evelyne: When you were practicing in-person, what do you think was responsible for such rapid growth?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: One of the big things I did, and there’s always so many different ways to grow your business. I teach all these different ways. In fact, I have one handout called 53 Ways to Get New Patients, but there’s probably five that perform the best, and one of them is to teach classes. And so that’s what I did.
And my very first class, I was just standing there with what I call my sister wife hairdo in a hot room, and a flip chart, and handing out a couple handouts. But it was all heart, and wanting to share this content. And there was about 13 to 18 people the first time, and then the second time started with 42. And then it just kept growing.
And it got to the point where, even with the office expansions, I had to stand in the doorway and teach to two rooms filled with over 80 patients. So that was one of my favorite ways to grow my practice.
My most recent launch I did completely differently, so it’s not the only way, but it worked really well. I call it the scrappy method. It works well when you’re starting out. You have time on your hands, and you don’t have a lot of dollars to spend.
Evelyne: Yeah, that’s amazing. Do you think that that still works well to this day? I find that, and I don’t know if it’s living in California, but people tend to, when they RSVP for something, it’s usually a maybe. And I find that it can be challenging for practitioners to put themselves out there constantly, and then people don’t show up. I don’t think that’s the case all over the US, but I definitely noticed that in California. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: I was in California too, so I know that audience well. I was in San Francisco Bay area. And I used to teach my in-person classes on the worst day, Wednesday, when everyone else was double-booked. And I did it at 6:30 PM, which was the worst traffic. And it would take an hour and a half to do traffic. Like I said, anyone looking at it would say that’s not going to be successful. I had people drive four hours for those classes.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: So knowing how to do the marketing is essential. And in fact, if I was going to break all of practice down to the most simplistic things to start, it’s great marketing for good lead generation. A wonderful offer, otherwise that’s not going to work. And then fulfillment. Obviously there’s a lot more to growing and scaling a business, especially for those who want to go big, but those are the first pillars you have to nail.
And so yeah, I also don’t like to waste time. So even though I’m not personally fan of video, I would do it. So I did in-person for years, and then I would go live on Facebook and record on Zoom while I was doing a live class. So we would capture the people who weren’t coming.
And then, you had asked about Covid. I did take my practice a hundred percent virtual during that time. And then when I did that, I taught everything online. So there’s all these little tips and tricks for how to improve attendance. One of the things I did for in-person is I would give out notes, but I would only give out notes to the first 50 who would attend. So people were wanting to get there early to get the notes.
And then when I’m doing a webinar, there’s certain emails, and reminders, and staying in touch with people. So that’s obviously important. But we would give an incentive for people to come, maybe a special PDF or some other type of note that they would get only if they showed up live.
Sometimes now when I do webinars, we don’t give out a recording at all. So it’s only free for those who attend live, and then we save the recordings for the practitioners or patients that are in our programs. So lots of little things you can do. And I think if you just understand that people are super busy, and they’re pulled in many directions, and they have a short attention span, then you can build your marketing to match it.
Evelyne: I have a question. I want to back up a little bit for the practitioner listening. So whether you own your own practice or not, what are some questions that practitioners can be asking themselves to be thinking about the long-term? Like, should everybody be thinking about an exit strategy? And is this model that you teach, is it for practitioners who want to have other practitioners working for them, or under them, or at one point taking over for them? Can you expand on that?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: So we teach the practice plan. That’s our model that has the focus on getting practitioners certified. Their practice launched into their first 100K in five months or less. Great program, really guides them all the way through it step-by-step. We also have the mentorship, and that’s for people who want even bigger numbers. They want to make 100K a month or more. So that really helps them out.
That being said, even with those two distinct models, there’s still many ways that you can go after it. I find that most practitioners left to their own devices, they recreate primary care, and they’re just doing a functional medicine or holistic or natural approach, but they recreate the grind that they’re familiar with. So I want them to be thinking first and foremost about themselves, which sounds weird. Because we always focus on the patient. But I have four criteria that I run every decision for practice and business through.
Number one, it has to be good for the practitioner. Number two, it has to be good for the patient. Number three, it has to be financially sound for the business. And then number four, it has to be time-efficient. And so most practitioners, they have such big healing hearts, they’re always focused on the clinical, and they forget all the other pillars of running a business.
And because they’re excited and motivated, they don’t think about, am I going to be this excited in two years or five years, or am I going to be tired? Am I making it enough to sustain this business that I’m growing? I just talked to a practitioner a couple weeks ago, lovely naturopath, and she’s built a successful practice for herself.
Most people, what they call a successful practice, means that it’s profitable but it’s a grind. They’re not making enough that they can go on vacation. I talked to another practitioner, can’t even leave for an extended weekend. She has a traditional chiropractic practice.
Or they’re doing everything, they’re wearing all the hats. I mean, it sounds crazy. My life wasn’t always like this, but I have a housekeeper and a chef that comes six days a week. I have a personal assistant. I have a team of over 33 staff members. So yeah, I like big. I think big is better.
I’ve had smaller, I’ve had middle, I’ve had multiple practitioners. I’ve had big. And bigger lets you have a bigger impact. It lets you have a life, because you’re not the only one lifting everything up. So most practitioners, like this one I had talked to, because she built a successful practice, which means that all expenses were covered, it’s slightly profitable, but she’s working like crazy.
She just hired another practitioner so they can see more patients. But then it duplicates her efforts, but it doesn’t free her up in time. Because now she has to manage that practitioner.
And so she got to the point where she had seven practitioners, but it was the same thing. It was just like, oh my gosh, it was just the grind multiplied by seven. And they had this service, that they were serving the community. But you know what? It’s not going to last. Because she’s exhausted, and she can’t keep showing up in that way.
So I want people to think of these things as far in advance as possible. I want them to build the practice that they dream of, that they’re super excited about, and one that’s sustainable. One that they can do for 10 years, or 15 or 20 years, or pass on to a family member. And for a practice to be truly sustainable, it has to not only have an amazing service, but it has to have good time management, it has to be profitable. And that practitioner or CEO owner has to be able to have a life.
And this is why we get a lot of MDs, and Dos, and nurse practitioners in our program, is because they’re noble warriors in their medical fields. And they’re absolutely exhausted and burnt out from the last few years.
And so the thought that they could still have an impact on patient’s life, and maybe do 15 hours a week of patient-facing care, instead of 40 plus going home and charting for three hours every night, just blows their mind.
Or the fact that they don’t have to hit a glass ceiling. They could truly, if they do it right, they could scale their business in any way possible. So to answer the question, is it always bringing on other practitioners? Not necessarily. I like to ask them, what makes you happy? So some people, they really love the one-on-one clinical visits. And other people, they’re almost embarrassed to admit it. They say, “Well, I love functional medicine, but I don’t love the one-on-one patient care.”
And I’m always saying, “That’s okay. We want to know what you like or don’t like, and we can set it up accordingly.”
Some people like management, and they like admin. And others know, that’s not my forte. So I don’t want them to go build a business where they’re adding a bunch of practitioners, and they find themselves torn away from the clinical visits, and now they’re wearing that administrative hat. And then they think, well, what did I do? And now I feel sort of trapped.
And most of us have done it at one time or another. So absolutely, you don’t have to do that. In fact, we just had a mastermind retreat with all of our mentorship and upper-level clients. And I was showing them sales funnel models, everything from membership, to low-ticket offers, to high-ticket, to eight figure practices, to the practice plan. Just so they could see that there’s choices that you can consciously make to build the practice that will make you happy. And one thing I know for sure is that a happy practitioner makes for better happier patients.
Evelyne: Yeah, definitely. How do you suggest that somebody starts to get out of that grind? Where do you begin?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Well, so everyone only has 24 hours in the day. And so if their main thing is going to be a one-on-one service, and it’s them, then they have to realize they will hit a ceiling. And so then, if that’s the level of practice they want to stay at, that visit is going to go higher. And it’s going to end up being sort of a concierge practice. Because they’re just going to run out of time.
And same thing, in order to deliver a good service and have a life, they’re going to have to limit it. And that will naturally drive the price up. And if that’s their conscious choice, that’s fine to do that. If they still want a bigger impact, and they want to serve, and please, no right or wrong here, it’s what makes them happy. But if they want to be able to serve more people, then they’re going to have to figure out either a one to mini model, which I personally really love. I love that group dynamic, whether it’s patients or practitioners.
I think I love doing real live visits, or coaching in that. I just love that whole model. Or they could have health coaches or nutritionists under them, that also provide one-on-one. And that’s different than bringing on another practitioner. So many options here, but that’s one of my personally favorite models, is to have a practitioner who is really seen clearly for what they bring to the table.
It might be their lab analysis, it might be their excellent discernment over supplements. It might be the way they can think strategically about the patient’s health, or go down that rabbit hole or whatever it is. They make the high-level clinical decisions.
But they also understand that so much of the patient’s success is lifestyle changes. And having a container, and being held and guided through a course of care, which they can supervise, and direct, and coordinate. And be the CEO, not just the clinical director, but they can have coaches or nutritionists or other staff members help guide patients through that. And that’s absolutely a way to amplify their services without tapping all their time.
Evelyne: How do you think that practitioners, like MDs, Dos, NPs can work with health coaches? And I’m really curious about this, because I’m certified as a health coach, I’m also a nutritionist. I have my master’s in nutrition. And the reason I don’t see clients is probably because I love talking about the functional medicine aspect more than the actual food, and the behavior change, which is what I’ve been trained in.
And I find that’s the case with a lot of nutritionists who have been trained, who can analyze labs and do all those things. So is it a matter of finding health coaches who only specialize in, say, the behavior change aspect? And then I know this would vary across the country, but how do you begin to maybe pay someone like that when they are working under you? When a lot of health coaches are also charging a lot of money? Do you know what I’m asking?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Oh, I a hundred percent know what you mean and I have a very unique approach to it.
Evelyne: Okay, great.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: We have a training for health coaches and nutritionists called, A Health Coach Can Now Out-Earn An MD By Far. So the health coach is a nutritionists that identify as solo practitioners and want to be business owners. I actually don’t want them working for other people.
Instead, yes, through our Functional Medicine Academy certification and Designs for Health DSS program, we partnered with them to get those two connected. And it is an incredible opportunity that health coaches, and nutritionists, and bachelor level education and nutrition professionals didn’t have before, that they can get all these wonderful tools that Designs for Health offers.
So they have to go through that education, there’s some hoops to jump through. But absolutely, they get so many keys to the castle. And their scope of practice is determined by their initials, but not their success. So getting very clear on what they’re able to do, spotlight labs through Designs for Health.
Things like this, once they meet those requirements and qualify for a full account using Well World, there’s so much they can do. They have a multiple, seven, eight figure practice. And I love teaching them how to do it.
So those are not the people you hire if you have some medical license and you want health coaches under you. Those are people that are meant to own their own practice, and their own business, and absolutely soar. And they can do great things without prescribing. And then when a patient needs a certain level of care, they just refer out or they co-manage, right? So all very good, very clean.
For practitioners that want to scale their practice and have health coaches, I actually recommend that they create their own health coaches. That they train someone who maybe hasn’t gone through multiple health coaching certifications, or specialized in it. Or they might have virtual assistants who have, even overseas, who speak impeccable English and have coaching training. And then that practitioner teach them exactly what they want them to do.
So in that role, they’re not interpreting labs or doing things like that. They’re helping to fulfill what the practitioner has already put in place, and sort of hold that patient and carry them from visit to visit. And they’re still working on very valuable things, like sleep and lifestyle and diet. But they’re the sounding board, they’re the accountability partner, they’re the connection in between practitioner visits, between the patient and the practice as a whole.
So it’s a different type of role. It’s a very different pay scale, it’s a different knowledge skillset. But it really works well to scale, and patients are well taken care of in both scenarios. But yes, someone like yourself with your kind of training, I think you’re meant to run your own huge business, and that’s how I treat them.
Evelyne: That makes sense. I’ve also noticed this since this came up, and I’m curious what you think about this. I’ve seen some practitioners actually let go of their licenses, and call themselves a health coach to be able to work with more people across the US, and especially if they’re not licensed in other states. I’m just curious what your thoughts are on that.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: I get asked this multiple times a week. And I tell them at least 9.5 out of 10 times, I tell them to keep their medical license. They worked so hard for it. And with every license, especially as you ratchet up, an RN goes to an NP, these types of things, there’s increased scope and privilege for what you can do with your patient. But then there’s also increased responsibility and regulation.
And so one of the questions I get asked too, an RN will say, well, should I go become a nurse practitioner? And I said, only if you love being a nurse practitioner. If being a nurse practitioner allows you to do something more that you’re really passionate about. But you don’t need to go get it in order to have a successful business.
So, same thing. My MDs, my DOs, my PAs, it determines your scope and you’re going to have extra hoops to jump through and regulation. Now, as far as being limited to the state you’re licensed in, that’s not a bad thing. Especially with telemedicine and telehealth. And if you scale it right, you don’t need that many patients a year to have a hugely successful practice. And now you’ve got your whole state, so you’re very focused on the area you’re going to market.
There’s been only a few examples where it really made sense to give up a license. I’m thinking of one where it was a DC, and she was leaving the state she was licensed in, and she was no longer going to do any physical medicine. In that case, then absolutely, there’s opportunities through our certification and DSS with designs for health for her to have a wonderful business.
So she was already on that path, it made sense for her. I’m thinking of a pharmacist assistant where she was super passionate about this specific type of care she wanted to provide, and none of it was under her PA license, and she did not want to use those extra privileges. So for her, it made sense. She was also located in New York, so there was additional lab ordering restrictions.
So for her, that made sense. It was the path she was already on. But otherwise, I’m not one of those programs out there that’s telling everyone, go give up your license. I think that’s a very important decision that needs to be well-thought-out. And in most cases it’s absolutely worth keeping, and working within those restrictions.
It’s easy enough to do, it’s just understanding how to color within the lines. And most people don’t realize that being able to market to the whole US, while that sounds great, that’s also more work.
Because, how are you going to market to the whole US? And are you going to use ads? If you do ads all the way across the US and they’re not targeted and specific, that becomes very expensive. So I find this a lot. I am not an attorney or an accountant, but I can help people so they have better answers, and it costs less when they go to their professionals. And I get asked a lot of these questions all the time.
And you have to realize sometimes that professional is giving you the rote answer. And so knowing how to ask a question to really get what you need is important. So yeah, this is a lot of the work we do.
Evelyne: Yeah, thank you for sharing that. And since you mentioned DSS twice, I do want to, for people listening who don’t know what it is, DSS stands for the Dietary Supplement Specialist Certification. It’s something we offer through Designs for Health.
I have a question since you brought up the marketing. Right? I know this could be like a whole masterclass, and I know that’s what you teach. But I do frequently get asked about this. Say a naturopathic doctor, or it could be really any doctor, maybe an OBGYN, practicing functional medicine. What are some of the best ways to market themselves?
You mentioned the classes. But even for the classes, does that mean that they should be doing Facebook ads, Instagram ads? What do you see that’s successful right now?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Okay, so one thing is, I love ads. Like you said in the intro, we had an offer, we’re actually now just hitting over 2 million, and this is in about four to five months. And definitely, ads were helpful with that. But ads are a science. They take effort, you have to learn them. I teach them to the advanced practitioners in our program, not the starting ones. And they also cost money, and I don’t want people to lose money, and you have that risk. So for those who want to go big or those who want to scale, ads most likely are going to play a role.
Another thing out there is there’s a lot of marketing agencies that charge a lot of money, and they have no clue what they’re talking about. So ask me in a second about what you have to ask for a marketing agency if you’re going to use them, and I’ll tell you what.
But to stay on what I like people to do first, let’s say they’re brand new, at least to the functional medicine space, and they’re trying to grow their practice, I like them to use those scrappy methods. The ones that talk about who they are, getting their brand out there, having them be seen and be visible. And it costs either no money or very low costs, but it’s when they first have some time before they get totally full.
And so speaking and webinars, anytime you can be positioned as the authority and share a piece of information, I call it giving up front, that can be wonderful. And you do want to learn this in detail. Because sometimes, otherwise you hear, well, I did a Facebook Live and no one was there. Well, that’s normal in the beginning if you do a Facebook Live. In fact, most people are going to watch it later. So they need to know that you have to have good energy, and teach to that Facebook Live as if 30 people are there, and it has a big fat zero in the corner. So things like that. It helps for practitioners to know what to expect.
Social media can be a wonderful tool, but not the way people think. They think if they just have a business page where if they even hire another company to put five social media posts a week, that patients are going to come from that, and they absolutely are not going to come from that. That helps with credibility. When a patient says, “Oh, Dr. Jake, someone referred him.” And they go and look them up, that’s what it’s helpful for. But it rarely, if ever, brings patients in that way.
Social media, it’s using groups, lives, and really the chat is in the comments and the DMs. And that’s where, having a strategy built for that. And we call it a pipeline or a funnel, and knowing what needs to happen at each part of it. That’s how you use some of those tools.
Networking can be great. Things you don’t worry about in the beginning, a perfect website, SEO, paying for branding, a newsletter. None of those things are going to have a good return, or are worth a lot of your effort or time. A simple one-page website is more than enough. It’s for credibility, it’s for a landing page, it’s to get a no charge consult booked.
But my approach for newbies is, I want them to get their first 20 patients and 100K under their belt right away. So they have traction, they have momentum, they’re testing their systems, they’re getting over imposter syndrome. Because now they’re in that clinical mode and they’re seeing patients. And then with that income that comes in, they can choose to hire an assistant. If they then want to run an ad campaign, they can. So I always like to have my practitioners do something to fund the next thing.
In fact, I did it myself this year, earlier I did a small, what I call a mini launch. So I planned it for two weeks. I taught for a few hours over a couple days. It generated about 70,000 in sales, and that funded me building the practice plan, which took me a little less than two months. And that’s the offer that I told you did over 2 million now in a few months.
But you don’t have to get a bank loan when you know how to do these things. You just do something, and it funds the next project. So I love teaching that skill. I get super excited about it, and I feel in my heart of hearts that especially when women know how to do this, and we teach our young girls that it changes the decisions you make in life about a partner, in school, and where you work, and it gives you a lot more options. So I’m super passionate about that.
Evelyne: I love that. You said no-cost consults. Can you talk about that? Is that something that you recommend that everybody does?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Yeah, so these are sales calls, but a lot of healthcare practitioners, they’re afraid of sales. And I used to be one of them too, so I wouldn’t say the word, even though I had to teach it. I had to figure out a way to teach it that worked for me ethically, and felt good, and was high-integrity. And so I did.
But it took a while, and I totally understand where practitioners come from and they say, I’m just the doctor, I just want to be the nurse, I just want to be the health coach. Whatever it is, I don’t want to do sales. I call it a sales call all the time now, because I want people not to be afraid of money, not to be afraid of sales. And that’s what it is.
But you can call it a no-charge consult, a discovery call, a clarity call. And one of the best things actually is that you name it in a way that it lines up with your offer and your marketing, and the program or package or whatever it is you do.
When those are in alignment, it’s what I call the slip and slide. You don’t have to ever be salesy, it makes sense. The patient wants to work with you, you don’t have to be in sale mode. But anyway, but that’s what it is. And some people, they want to do low-ticket offers. I did them for a while.
If you do a lower ticket offer, I mean, it’s easier in the sense that it’s like, oh, something’s only a couple-hundred dollars. Or it’s $900. Anything below a thousand is a low ticket offer. But there’s so much extra work you have to do for that. And you have to add higher numbers to hit your overall goals with a low ticket offer. And I can tell you that personally after doing it for years, it just didn’t make sense. And it can lead to that burnout and then grind.
So I only do high ticket now, it’s so much better. Patient compliance is extraordinary because they’re putting down a couple thousand or more. A significant enough amount of money that they’re showing up, and then there’s a container, a beginning, a middle, and an end as far as time. And so they’re committed.
And the practitioner’s saying, I’m committed to you. I’m here. This is the transformation we want to go on during this time. And the patient’s saying, I’m committed to my health journey. I put down the money, I’m going to make the time.
I always tell practitioners, you spend so much time thinking about the clinical world, which we all love. And then you think about the features of your offer. How many visits are included, what happens during it? Do we maybe give them a supplement discount? What labs are we going to use? And the patient never pays for that.
No one is interested, sitting at home saying, “I want to open up my wallet because I want to have more visits. I want to pee on some litmus paper, I want to swallow some supplements.”
They’re not sitting there saying that, but they will do all that, and they will put up with all that, because of the transformation they want to go on. What’s the before and after? So this is the blend between marketing and sales.
But I find most practitioners don’t understand it, or they’ve been maybe taught a little fledgling version of it. I haven’t really seen anyone else in functional medicine who specializes in it the way we do, and hits the numbers that we do. But you absolutely have to know how to market and sell in functional medicine. And most focus only on the clinical part.
But you could be a great clinician and no patients, and then it’s just sort of tragic. So you got to understand this. But yeah, it’s about the same amount of work to sell a 3,000 to $15,000 program. So pick what makes sense for you, and what makes sense based on your offer, and just do that work.
And by the way, you don’t have to always do it. You could build a sales team.
Evelyne: So Dr. Z, I have a question, kind of like a challenge. And I’ve been in this world for a long time now, and I like the idea of what the high-ticket offers, I think it makes sense for practitioners. Less patients, more time. You work with people who are very committed. And I feel like things have really shifted, especially in the last few years, with inflation.
Well, you used to live in California, I live in San Diego. And I think even for the person who could afford it, it’s like everybody’s cutting back. And then you’re paying for this program, you’re paying for supplements. How do you reconcile what we do in this space with trying to help people?
And I know we can’t help everybody. But how can we, I don’t know if the right word is justify, but charging so much when there are so many people who we want to help?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: So there’s probably about four different pieces to answer that. One is that practitioners need to know, don’t be everything to everyone. You can’t be it. And I always say, don’t even be primary care. And some practitioners want to say, well, I’m better at primary care. And that might be fine.
But nowadays in the US, primary care and our physicians are just really challenged in this model. But they’re really like gatekeepers, with annual exams, and having to deal with insurance codes, and funneling people to the right specialists. So why compete with that? It’s an absolute grind and it’s exhausting. And the truth is that the medical practices and hospitals that are running primary care, they’re able to do it based on volume. So just don’t be that.
Let them be that. And then you being a functional medicine practitioner, you’re going to actually make the primary care doc and all the other practitioners look good, because you’re going to do the hard lifestyle work. And the changes with the patient, you have time with them that other practitioners don’t.
So I like there to be a clear distinction and to understand. I can’t tell you how many nurse practitioners I get who do that direct primary care model, and then are exhausted later and burnt out because they didn’t realize what they were signing up for. The practice that they left, that they wanted to do different, they recreated it and they’re doing different. So they’re running two things and they’re burnt out. It’s not at all what they expected.
So that’s part of it as far as hitting people and serving people that are underserved or disadvantaged financially, one of the ways I did it was by having free classes, and courses, and challenges. So I had some people who would go years, and you could see the transformations in what they were able to glean from class to class, and they didn’t become a patient. But they loved that service, and that’s what was available to them.
I’ve got some people who might do a nonprofit, or they might do a sliding scale, or they might have a pro bono, or they might have a freebie clinic day. So there’s a lot of different ways to have that philanthropy in your clinic depending on what your goals are.
But even if, because I’m thinking of one practitioner I have who wants to ultimately have a nonprofit and grow it, she knows she has to have a profitable practice. She has to have a business that will pay all the bills to be able to have the practice that allows people to come for free care. So they have to be a business owner and have it make sense.
And there’s no doubt that functional medicine costs more, right? Because you’re doing advanced tests, you’re taking more time, and they have to think like a mechanic or an attorney. You don’t just charge for the face-to-face time with the patient visit, because that’s not the only thing involved.
So I know when Covid first hit, we went virtual, and I wanted to serve all of our existing patients. It felt like running two businesses at the same time for a little bit, because of keeping everything going for everyone and then creating this new virtual form.
But it was much easier to switch to virtual than I thought it would be, as far as delivering care. Because knowing how to do a really good medical interview, knowing how to utilize labs, knowing how to use supplements, and test responses, and talk to the patient, that is so much of what’s involved.
So even though I was giving up my hands-on in the visit, it really didn’t change care overall. We just became even better at the medical interview. So there was a short period of time where we gave a steeper discount on supplements for our practice members, and then we served their family. We had some group visits for family. They really appreciated that.
But I had two price increases in 2020. And very few say that. I had colleagues that went bankrupt, and were closing their clinics. And it was certainly a challenge. But yes, we had two price increases during that time.
So they have to put on their business hat also. And don’t put themselves in a struggling or martyr situation. There’s nothing wrong with people having a profitable business. And I actually love the idea of all these practitioners I’m working with becoming very wealthy practitioners. Because in my experience, people who do good, when they make more money, they do more good. So I love seeing that for all these natural healers.
But absolutely, they have to wrap their head around the money stuff and own the value of their services. There’s people in the online space who are doing programs that don’t even bring a quarter of the services that we do as functional medicine practitioners, and they’re charging double or triple. So I think it’s a little bit of an epidemic among health and wellness practitioners to undervalue themselves and to undercharge.
Evelyne: Yeah, definitely. And I think it’s just common in the healing profession, right? Wanting to help everybody. So it’s hard to shift that mindset as well. And I completely agree with you. I think that when practitioners do make more money, they can help more people. And they actually have the bandwidth to be able to give either free or reduced-cost support and care to patients.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: And calendar management is a real thing. If you just think of the momager, the mom-manager of the household role, and then you’re working also, it’s a lot of stress. So as you read in my bio, I’m a fifth generation female entrepreneur. I didn’t know how to take an extended vacation, or sometimes even a vacation for a long time. And it wasn’t really modeled for me, but I had to figure it out. And I finally did, and I love it.
So I actually take a whole month off, and I do it twice a year now. So I took June off, I’m taking December off. Last year I took October and May, so I switch it around. But once I figured out how to do it, I was like, oh, I’m going to teach this to everyone.
Evelyne: I love that.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: But yes, I used to be in the same situation where it was like, I can’t even go away for an extended weekend because my people need me and I can’t get away. And so absolutely, it can be taught. And the practitioner who gets a break, because you’re not just being an entrepreneur, but you’re working with people with their health challenges, it’s a different level of caring people in a very vulnerable state. And a lot of people don’t realize the toll that takes.
So if you want to be in this workforce for a long time and be able to grow your practice, you have to be able to shed that weight for enough weeks that you allow rejuvenation. And I personally found that if you don’t take at least three weeks off minimum, you don’t get enough of a break.
Because that first week is you just trying to shift gears, right? And then the second week you’re like, I think I’ll sleep. And then the third week is when you have fun. So if you only took a week off or two weeks, you never got to the fun part.
Evelyne: Yeah, that’s funny. I’m curious, what are some of the top tools that you use to enhance your business? You kind of sprinkled some in, but what has been the most helpful to you?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: From a practice standpoint, I always teach Designs for Health, Well World, and Rupa Health. And then a good EMR. I’ve been recommending Practice Better a lot. And I always teach people, if they use different tools, here’s ways to help them. But those are my favorite tools by far. It just does so much of the work for you. Sometimes it feels like having a free staff member.
And having tools that are effective and not over complicated is important. And you also want tools that you want to think of not just on the side for yourself as the practitioner or your staff, the backend, but also what is the user experience? What is the patient experience? So those are really important.
From a business standpoint, you have to think of also your bookkeeping and your finances. You need to think about a CRM for lead generation and sales tracking. So how do you track leads? How do you communicate with people? Do you use texting software? So there’s lots of other tools out there.
I know it’s pretty easy to get over-complicated. So that’s another thing, is not to buy every software. I often tell practitioners that work with me, please don’t buy anything else without running it by me. I promise I’ll save you money. Chances are, we already have it for you and you don’t need to pay for it. Or I’ll tell you when you need it.
Because they’re really great at losing a lot of money on getting a website built, excessive legal consults without knowing the right questions to ask, marketing that gets them nowhere. A brand that they’re not ready for, they don’t even know themselves well enough. And ads. And I’ve seen that bankrupt people. So it’s crazy. And you don’t need any of those things in the beginning. At all.
So anyway, yeah. I try to help them in that way. And I like Zoom Pro, and Google Workspace, and signing the BAA for each of them. So these are some simple tools that can really go far.
Evelyne: I’ve noticed something in our space over the years, when it comes to trying to find a person who can do the marketing for you and the social media and all that, and the website. It’s really hard to find people. And maybe we can come back to the marketing agencies thing that we talked about at the beginning. But it’s really hard to find someone to do all of that, and I do get asked for that all the time. And I feel like it doesn’t really exist. You kind of have to work with different people. What are your thoughts on that?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: We’ve been asked enough that we created solutions for it. Because, absolutely. I get asked that even more than legal and accounting questions. And they were solutions we had to find for ourselves too.
I mean, I’ve had employees, I’ve had contractors, I’ve hired every type of VA out there. So we have a solution now where we have VAs trained, and our practitioners can hire them just for a project. Very low cost, and they can go build that website, or build that funnel, or make that logo or whatever it is. So for the real newbies, that’s super helpful because they’re not having to commit to a big contract. They’re not having to start and, is this person any good? Am I going to know what to say? So we provide that.
And the point of that is to be a short-term solution for them. A longer-term situation is we actually have a VA service, the same one we use. And without paying extra per-hour, it’s a flat rate, they can hire as many VAs as they want. Quality people, rates that you can afford, and you can get exactly what you want.
So I mean, I personally probably have 15 staff members from this agency now. It’s amazing. So that’s a long-term solution to having staff. And I could name every position, they could do everything.
As far as marketing agencies, that’s probably where I find the most disappointment. I don’t have a great marketing agency for anyone. I think these marketing agencies try to position them in a way that’s saying they can always do more than they can. So here’s what I tell the practitioners to not lose money.
To do well with hiring someone to help you with any phase of marketing, you absolutely need to know who you are, what you offer, who your ideal patient is, and what your marketing message is. You have to know that. And I teach people how to do that. But no one else is going to hand that to you and have it work. It’s just not. And that’s why people lose money doing it this way.
But you have to know all those things, and then know what you want to understand you are going to be the boss and the director for that marketing agency. So they’re going to perform and do a task for you.
I think a lot of practitioners feel like they’re drowning, they need help, and they’re like, please rescue me. And the marketing agencies swoop in, and they never rescue them. Because they’re not equipped to rescue them. So we got to turn the tables, empower that practitioner to know who they are, what they want. They know their funnel. They don’t have to understand how it all works, but they need to know what they’re asking for so they can direct it.
And then if you do work with a marketing agency … I have one, they’re not these big marketing agencies that I find so disappointing. They help with Facebook ads, and they’re good at doing it, but you still have to direct them. And I teach the practitioners in that way. So you show up with your ad creatives, you know what you want, but they can help push the buttons and pull the levers.
And then if you’re going to hire a company like that, it should be a reasonable fee, which ours definitely is. Because you wouldn’t believe what people are charging out there. And I have people regularly come and they’ve spent five to 35,000, anywhere in between, and they have nothing to show for it. So I’m talking about someone that’s less than a thousand a month, who’s going to greatly help with a piece of your marketing funnel. But you know what you want.
And then when you hire someone like that, they should be showing up and doing, especially in the beginning, weekly meets with you. And you need tracking. So you don’t want to just throw something out there and say, hey, help me. You have to know, what’s the audience? What’s the mechanism? How am I going to get leads? How are they going to be delivered to me?
What do I or my staff have to do in order to respond to the leads? That’s another thing I’ve seen. Oh, sign up with us and we guarantee you 30 leads a month or your money back. And then they give you 30 leads. They’re not qualified. And what they didn’t tell you is how much time it would take to respond appropriately to those leads. And now the practitioner’s like, what did I sign up for?
So you have to ask that agency, or that vendor, or that solopreneur or whatever it is. Ask them, all right, so if you’re going to do this for me, how’s it going to be delivered? How am I going to respond? How are we going to communicate in real-time? How are we going to measure the results? Based on the results, how are we going to tweak it? How are we going to ramp up the budget?
So that’s another thing. When they hire a marketer, they think, oh, that five to 15K they ask for upfront. That’s it. It’s like, wait, no, that doesn’t even include ad cost.
Evelyne: Oh, wow. Okay.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Exactly. So this is why I want them to be really educated. And I know this well, I’m one of the only people in the functional medicine space who will spend 150,000 a month on Facebook ads. So, yeah, I know them inside and out.
Evelyne: Wow. Well, thank you for sharing that. And also thank you for sharing those questions that practitioners can ask themselves before going forward with that. I think it’s just good to always reflect, and maybe reflect every couple of years on who we really want to be serving, and who we want to be working with, and knowing ourselves very well. So thank you for that. Where can practitioners learn more about you?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: They can go to www.thepracticeplan.com. I think you have to put those Ws in front. So that’s like the start of one of our video sales funnels of BSL. And if you don’t know those terms, don’t worry, it’s one of the things I teach.
But that will get you talking to one of our practice advisors, even get you connected to me, and then we can sort of brainstorm what would be good for your practice or not. If someone feels like they’re ready for the mentorship, just say, I’m a mentorship candidate. That’s good for people who want to grow big.
Or maybe they’re in a partnership, or they already have a practice going or they want to convert it. So that’s sort of the speed that the mentorship’s for. But yeah, absolutely www.thepracticeplan.com is great. And then our main website with all our general information is thedrz.com.
Evelyne: Great, thank you. And before we wrap up, I have some questions I’d love to ask everybody. What is something that you’ve changed your mind about through your years in practice?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Okay, that’s great. EMR changed from Jane Software to Practice Better. I use Jane Software for many years, and there’s definitely good things about it, I’ve taught it many times. We switched to Practice Better because it allowed us to biohack the software, and we give our practitioners all their intake forms and consents and patient handouts already done. Which saves them thousands of dollars, and thousands of hours. So part of it was just logistics. I hired a clinical lab IT tech out of the UK, and we were able to hack it. So that was part of it. And Jane didn’t work that way.
There were other things, as far as the user experience, the patients were happier and it was more intuitive with Practice Better versus Jane. So if you’re using Jane, don’t feel like you have to abandon ship. If you love it, stick with it. It’s just something that we personally made the switch, and that’s why.
The other thing I’d say I switched is, I really love gut health. And doing that gut deep dive, and those protocols is something I’ve just always done in practice. But over the years, instead of starting with that, I switched more to palliative care and hormones. And that’s because I just really saw what patients were coming in with. And if I could get them some relief that they felt and noticed, they understood the journey we were on, and then they were ready to do the hard work that the gut health and the gut protocols were going to demand of them.
So that was something that’s just sort of shifted. Not again that there’s a right or wrong, but I would say if I had a trend, I saw that switch over time.
And then probably the last thing I would say, from a business standpoint, a change I went through that I say a lot of my practitioners, is switching from that lower ticket, high-volume model and being in that grind, and feeling like you have to do everything and just get a bigger clinic, and a bigger clinic, and all that.
And switching to something that really focused on a specific result or transformation, a higher ticket, fewer practitioners, which, fewer patients but you’re going deeper with them. And being able to work remotely, which allows you to work anywhere in the world. So like I said, travel wasn’t really on my mind or my radar, but it’s been an amazing gift. And I can go anywhere, and work anywhere there’s a laptop and a wifi. So that has been a great change.
Evelyne: Yeah, that’s amazing. And then more on the health side, what are your three favorite supplements that you love to take, and then what are your top health practices that keep you healthy and resilient? Aside from now taking vacations?
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Yes. These are good questions, I love them. I’m a big fan of SPM Supreme. I don’t think that’s talked about enough. It’s amazing. I use it in a lot of different ways that people might not expect, but I get phenomenal results with it and I use it personally. So I love SPM Supreme. And it was a real game changer when it came out.
In fact, I’d given a wishlist of supplements I wanted from Designs for Health, and almost all of them have been fulfilled in the last few years.
Evelyne: Oh, wow.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: So that makes me so happy. And supplements that I used to have to go get somewhere else and I don’t have to. So probably 99% of what I need for patients is all from Designs for Health. So that thrills me.
Evelyne: I love that. And SPMs by the way, for anyone listening who’s not familiar, specialized pro-resolving mediators.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: They’re fabulous. And by the way, I’m not just saying this. When we just went on a trip to Florida and came back, we live on the Caribbean coast by Del Carmen. And you open up our bags, I had 45 pounds of Designs for Health supplements in my suitcase that I brought in. And they were like, “Are you opening a store?”
And I said, “No, those are for me.”
But this is just what I want here, right? So SPM Supreme for sure. PharmaGABA, love it. It works so fast. It’s so great. All ages. And we use it so many different ways. A lot of ways that people don’t think.
There’s clinical insights, you can get visit to visit by testing PharmaGABA in certain ways that can save patients’ money on labs. And let’s see, probably Digestzymes™ I think that is just an essential supplement. So many people need it. We carry Digestimes everywhere. I could reach across and grab my Digestimes. And I want to say one more just because…
Evelyne: Think I can too.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Yeah. Trying to say three favorites is unfair. Insomnitol™ Chewables, I love them too. And I’ll tell you something else. You didn’t ask, but a little side note. When we were in California and we were dealing with those fires, it was an awful experience. And we had to have a go bag packed by the door. So just imagine, you pack a go bag.
And I told my teenager at the time, “Just put what matters to you in your go bag. If we had to leave and it was a disaster, what do you want with you?” And it amazed me later when I looked, my teenager put all her Designs for Health supplements in her go back.
Evelyne: That’s so sweet.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: So out of everything.
Evelyne: That’s amazing.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: I know! Out of everything in her room, she got that. That that was essential for day-to-day life. So I thought that was so cute.
Evelyne: I think I would do the same.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Yeah. Well they also, they threw PharmaGABA in. If we were running from a fire, they did not want Mama to not have PharmaGABA.
And listen, my health practice, I swim. I love the sunlight here, it’s part of why I moved. So that makes me super happy. So I swim twice a day most days.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: So I swim in the morning with a trainer, and sort of a social time with neighbors. And then I swim again in the afternoon. So that’s probably my biggest one. And then going to bed. Going to bed at a decent time and getting up in the morning.
Evelyne: Very nice. Well, Dr. Z, thank you so much. This has been a great conversation. Very enlightening. So thank you for your time today.
Dr. Brandy Zachary: Oh, my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Evelyne: Thank you for tuning in to Conversations for Health. Check out the show notes for resources shared on today’s episode. Please share this podcast with your colleagues, follow, rate, leave a review wherever you listen or watch, and thank you for designing a well world with us.
Voiceover: This is Conversations for Health with Evelyne Lambrecht, dedicated to engaging discussions with industry experts exploring evidence-based, cutting edge research and practical tips.
Kristine Burke, MD is a triple board-certified Functional Medicine physician, entrepreneur, author, educator, and researcher. She is an expert in the reversal and prevention of chronic diseases such as dementia, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
Dr. Michael Twyman is a heart attack prevention expert, the founder of Apollo Cardiology, and a board-certified cardiologist. He is also a veteran who served as a Medical Corp physician in the Navy and now works out of St. Louis to integrate conventional and functional medicine to get to the root cause of his patients’ cardiovascular issues.
Dr. Mark Houston, Internist, and hypertension and cardiovascular specialist, is the cofounder of The Hypertension Institute, which immediately received national acclaim as one of the leading Institutes in the US for the treatment of hypertension and related cardiovascular disorders. Dr. Houston has presented over 10,000 lectures, nationally and internationally, and published over 250 medical articles, and scientific abstracts in peer-reviewed medical journals, books, and book chapters.
Jill Lane has spent over 15 years consulting, coaching, and teaching functional nutrition and exercise physiology. Her passion for helping pro athletes, sports families, and high achievers attain maximum strength, quick recovery, heightened energy, sharp focus, and optimal body fat for peak performance has become the cornerstone of her business.
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