Success tips for health and wellness professionals from Michael Desrochers of PainPRO Therapeutics

Michael Desrochers of PainPRO Therapeutics. Image courtesy of Michael Desrochers. 

Michael Desrochers has experienced unconventional success. While battling a serious addiction, he enrolled in a treatment program and was inspired by the role massage therapy played in the process. Deciding to take control of his life, he registered at the West Coast College of Massage Therapy and began on his path of helping people through healthy living. 
 
Desrochers now holds a Bachelors degree in nutrition, is a registered massage therapist, and is also a registered orthomedical health practitioner. Starting his practice in 2003 at the Coal Harbour Natural Health Clinic, Desrochers has since opened a second location and has plans in the near future for an affiliate location and a third corporate location. Now known as PainPRO Therapeutics Inc. Desrochers employs a team of 17 registered massage therapists and their annual revenue has reached approximately $1M.
 
This story caught my attention because health and wellness professionals generally receive limited business training during their certification process. While many of his contemporaries struggle with this aspect of their practices, Desrochers has excelled. I contacted him to ask a few questions about his successes, influences, outlook for the future, and keys to the unusual prosperity of PainPRO Therapeutics Inc.
 
Effective Marketing and High Accessibility
Massage therapy schools typically endorse referral networking as an effective method of building a business, but Desrochers found that creating a two-way referral network was challenging. “The idea is wonderful in theory, but many practitioners tend to be protective of their clients. Most years I end up referring $40-50k of business, but I don’t get much of that back. In fact, if I refer a patient to someone, I generally never see them again.”
 
Looking for other marketing opportunities, Desrochers turned to the Internet. He now attributes much of PainPRO’s success to a very strong web presence created through SEO, Google Adwords campaigns, ongoing blog entries, extensive use of social media, and highly accessible online functions. “We make it as easy as possible for clients to access our services. We offer online bookings, same-day appointments, two locations, and loyalty programs.”
 
Streamlined Business Activities
Similarly, Desrochers put a high priority on streamlining PainPRO’s business activities. “We’ve developed a software system that integrates online bookings with our loyalty program, electronic charting, and admin support. It makes the whole process easier for staff and for our clients.”
 
Adopting a Contemporary and Professional Identity
Recognizing that there are some common misconceptions about alternative therapies, one of Desrochers’s goals was to bring massage therapy into the mainstream. “We’re soft tissue specialists”, he explains, “and I wanted to move away from the ‘mom & pop’ image towards a slightly more corporate personality. We want to provide therapeutic, medically based massage therapy in an atmosphere that balances the zen feel of a spa with the professionalism of a medical clinic.”
 
Focussing on a Specialty
“Don’t try to be all things to all people. Many types of therapists try to offer solutions to all problems, but it’s better to pick a particular area to focus on. Become a go-to name for something specific. If you’re a new physiotherapist who wants to appeal to the active living market, direct your marketing at runners, cyclists, and other athletes.” 
 
For example, while PainPRO’s massage therapists will treat everything from fibromyalgia to headaches to sore muscles, one of their specialties is temperomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction and they actively promote their expertise in that niche. “If a doctor or dentist is experiencing TMJ dysfunction, we want them to think of PainPRO.”
 
So what is Michael Desrochers’s ultimate goal for PainPRO? “To rule the world”, he says with a lighthearted laugh, followed quickly by, “I’d love the PainPRO brand to become the Coca-Cola of massage therapy in North America.”
 
And what about continued expansion? “We’d like to have at least 10 Lower Mainland PainPRO Therapeutics locations that are corporately owned and some additional expansion through affiliation, licensing, or franchising.”

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