This is a Frederick Review interview with Hong Gao. Hong Gao is the owner of the Gao Acupuncture Center. Hong is a practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese medicine for pain relief, woman’s health, reducing stress, chronic fatigue and more.
Please introduce yourself and tell me a bit about your business.
Hi, everybody my name is Hong Gao and I am a licensed acupuncturist in Maryland. I was trained in China and I just started my practice here in Frederick about a year ago.
When did you come to Maryland?
I graduated in 1991 and after I practiced in a hospital in china for about 5 years. Then by the chance my husband had education in Japan so we lived in Japan for about 5 years. Then we immigrated to Canada, so I practiced in Canada for about 7 years before we moved to the States. After I took the NCCAOM examination I became licensed in Maryland. I am new to the business in the States but I am not new to this profession.
What was it that make you want to start the business in Frederick?
The truth is that Frederick is a city close to my husbands work. That is why we chose to move to Frederick, Maryland. Frederick is also a safe haven full of multicultural things full of different things for my daughter to enjoy. It is a good place to live and have a business.
What made you want to get in to Acupuncture in the first place?
That is an interesting story because I kind of follow my families path. Both of my parents were involved in Chinese medicine. My father practiced pediatric care and my mother was an acupuncturist in China. I have two sisters and they both went to medical school. One is a primary care doctor in Phoenix, Arizona and the other one practices here. When we grew up we would take Chinese herbs and acupuncture when we had problems. We also all saw our parents treating patients so thats why we were in to it. I feel like it is helping people and I like to help people. So that is a reason why I keep doing acupuncture. I definitely see a lack of holistic healthcare and acupuncture here in the United States. I think at this point in time, when I am having a conversation with people they have heard about acupuncture but they don’t know when they can see an acupuncturist or what conditions that can be helped by acupuncture.
If you could go back in time, what’s the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?
That is a really interesting question. What advice I would give myself? Personally I do have of lack of the business skills. I am not really good with business. I’m good at helping people, I’m good at treating different conditions, but I am not good at business. If I could restart, I may do more marketing or outsource to somebody who really can help me do that.
What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
My favorite thing is when somebody comes back to me and tells me they feel good after their treatment. Also, when they refer theirs friends or family to come and see me that is really big for me.
What’s the toughest thing you face being a business owner and how do you handle it?
The hardest thing is turning down someone who comes to see me for help. At a certain point with some peoples conditions I can not help them. If it is a condition they have had for a long time then there comes a point where I can not make it better or slow down the progress. I feel when I turn them down I am taking away their hope, so it is hard for me. I don’t like to lie to people so I will tell them that I don’t think that I can help them.
What’s the number one way you currently bring in new customers?
Believe it or not, most of my clients are through word of mouth. I do want to do more things but I just didn’t find a good way to do so. I’ve done google ads, facebook ads, and some print ads with Chinese newspapers but they weren’t effective for me.
What sets your business apart from your competitors?
I think for the most it is my background. I am the third generation in my family who practices acupuncture. I think that is a big part and also, because of my background, I can treat kids. There are not a lot of people who do pediatric acupuncture even in the whole country. Most of the time, people don’t how to deal with kids. Acupuncture is not really scary like it is in the movies. I do acupuncture on children from ages 7 or even younger. I also do herbs which is a different.
Acupuncture itself can also help many different ailments that people don’t know about. Even things such as migraines can be helped by acupuncture
How has technology played a role in your business?
I am not a really high tech person so basically just the basic things help me. Things like people being able to sign up on my website or emailing me personally to set up appointments.
For more information on Hong Gao and the Gao Acupuncture Center please see the information below: