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Every allied health practice has a brand. Your brand helps to add value to your services, reduce dissatisfaction for your customers, imply a level of quality to your services and showcase the personality of your practice. Your brand is very important and it is one thing that you should always think of when you make decisions going forward. Here are 5 rules to ensure you consider when you are working towards your goals.

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Stock images (photo's available for you to legitimately download & re-use) are widely available across many Australian and International stock repository sites. They can be a wonderful inexpensive way to give that professional edge to your business website, blog, social media updates or presentation slides, but there are some really important things for us to remember as allied health professionals:

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Your brand is not just your logo or an advertising campaign on social media. Your brand is comprised of both tangible and intangible aspects of your business that differentiates your service from your competitors. Understanding branding concepts are so important on both an individual level and from a practice perspective.

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Do you have a written Dress Code Policy in your practice? Maybe you have just a general verbal agreement on what “is” and “is not” allowed? What if you want to provide guidelines to your staff on what you would like them to wear, are you legally allowed to?

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With allied health services, consumer behaviour can be divided into three main stages. This is important to grasp as it can have implication for the way we communicate to our clients about our products and services. Understanding each stage means we can gain a better understanding of why consumers behave the way they do and allow you to deliver services that result in greater consumer satisfaction.

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What do you do when you don’t have the capacity to take on all the referrals you receive?  When your diary is full, but the new referrals just keep coming.  One of the ways to manage this is to create a waitlist for your services.  Before launching in, there are a couple of things to think about that will help your future clients who are destined for your waitlist.

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Providing handouts and information sheets to clients is a great way to compliment your one-on-one sessions. However, great handouts do not just happen! They require some planning, researching and coordinating. 

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I want to share something with you today that is always in the back of my mind as an allied health small business owner. It is the question: Are any of my brand touchpoints letting me down? Let me explain.

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Last week, I shared some specific areas in your allied health business that influence consumer perceptions of your brand. Today, we continue exploring this topic by focusing on brand touchpoints following their appointment.

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All my staff know that I am a stickler for good magazines in my waiting areas – they have to be inspiring, creative, and promote wellbeing…. And I also love when they can create a mini mental escape for my clients.  I certainly am not a fan at all of ‘trashy’ or ‘gossip’ mags, so they are out! A good magazine can really help you with your branding, and for me, there are some favourites that really match with what we are all about.  They might be helpful for you too…. As long as they match YOUR brand as well.

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A brand is basically your practice name that over time becomes familiar to people.  It is what gets you noticed and builds your business.  Your brand is your business identity's say.  It’s defined by how you and your employees consciously or otherwise portray your practice to others, and how those ‘others’ then interprets this.

If someone mentioned the name of your service or practice – what would your patients and referring sources say? Are these consistent with the image you endeavour to build? If you have employees, have they bought into this image? Why or why not?

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We have a lot of things coming up at Maida Learning over the next month – including workshopsthat I will be presenting for fellow allied health practitioners in both Adelaide & Melbourne which brings me to today's topic!

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Have you ever thought of blogging for your practice? Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise in your area, bring people to your website and help educate your audience about how you can solve their problems. Before you launch it, we have written a few points for you to consider. Here are some basic pearls and pitfalls of blogging in private practice.

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Last week, I was very excited to have met Mark Bunn.  Mark is our guest speaker for the Healthy Practice Conference in May 2014.  He is a former AFL player and motivational speaker and will address delegates with his wisdom on working smarter, not harder.  Mark is here to remind us the simple things in life are invaluable to your health and happiness.  

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This year, I volunteered to be a judge for the local Wagga Wagga Business Chamber Crow Awards. If you ever get a chance to judge an award, make sure you take up the opportunity. This particular experience was fantastic and reading through the entries became addictive. I also volunteered this year to judge the IFSHT inaugural innovation award which involved participating on an international judging panel. Both experiences were fascinating and I learnt some things that you need to think about!

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Having a business card made is one of the first things that practice owners work on when they decide to start a business.  And why not? It is certainly something that we need and something that we provide to our clients so they know how to contact us and possibly when their next appointment is.  Here is a question though, have you look at your business card lately?  Does it do the business you need it to do? Here are 5 things to think of when planning out your business card.

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Last week, I organised for a photographer to visit my practice to take some new pictures of staff to use on our websites and social media sites. We also have photos of our team on the wall of the waiting room. Here are some of my tips for preparing for new photos to be taken in your business:

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This blog is for the practice owner who has a waiting room, where people sit either by themselves or with their family or friend until you are ready to see them.  If you think back to the values in your practice that you want to model to your clients or the way you want your clients to feel when they are with you, how do these important aspects then apply to your waiting room?  Today in the blog I want you to be thinking of how it ‘feels’ to your clients in your waiting room.

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Do you know how your practice or service is different from your competitors? Do you think you communicate this difference well to your clients and referrers?

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I know therapists who thought that if they set up practice, opened the doors, people would just come.  I also know others that feel in the public system, marketing is not relevant to them.  Marketing in health care is important, and whether you want to or not, the minute you open the door, you are marketing! So, for those who didn't think they were marketing... now you have found out you are 'accidentally' doing it, are you doing it well?

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Here in Wagga Wagga, harvesting is nearing completion. This means it’s nearly Christmas! Going into the New Year is a good time to reflect on your brand. Do we need a brand in healthcare? I believe we do. I really think branding in healthcare is underestimated.  We often brand ourselves to our referrers, but do we consider how we engage our clients, our business partners and the public? Branding can seem foreign to the healthcare worker, but I encourage you to get this unsung concept in private practice working more effectively.

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Have you ever used a graphic designer and ended up with a result that wasn’t what you had in mind? Or maybe you haven’t used a graphic designer before and are not sure how to even start that process? Here at Maida Learning, we have used graphic designers many times, and we asked our friends at JAM Media to give some insights into the things you can do as an allied health business owner to get a great outcome with graphic design.

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By now, there may be many of you already harnessing the power of online marketing with Facebook for your practice and that is fantastic. One of the things I commonly recommend to people is once you are on there, make it work for you and ensure it matches your brand and engages your target audience. Are you doing that? Not sure? Here is my handy checklist to audit your Facebook page.

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