The ‘Small’ rule of mobile phone etiquette when a call gets disconnected – Blackberry, iphone, Nokia, Samsung, LG

I want to outline a very simple idea which I invite you to share with everyone you know because it surely has affected you, it affects practically everyone on the planet and it will take away some of the world’s frustration, or mine at least!  It will only work if everyone knows it, so spread the word.

Have you ever been on your mobile phone and got disconnected?

Of course you have.

What happens?  You phone the other person back, only to reach their voicemail because your friend is busily phoning you back.

When you finish leaving your message, you then see you have a message and guess what…. it’s your friend leaving you an identical message “Hi Steve, we got disconnected, can you call me back”. Grrrr!

If you are really unlucky, you then phone your friend back again, and again you get voicemail because he is phoning you back! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  I think some people get trapped in this circle of pain for hours …!

So my revolutionary idea to save millions of wasted calls, electricity and frustration energy is a simple piece of mobile phone etiquette when a phone gets disconnected:

He who made the call, phones back.

I repeat

She who made the call, phones back.

I acknowledge that this is a random blog post not connected to pain relief but I have to put the idea somewhere.

Before posting, I asked my wife for her opinion, she said great but asked whether I could also come up with a solution as to how to get our daughters to hang their things up …. no idea on that one!

By Stephen Small
Director Steadfast Clinics

Clinic Marketing: Strutting Peacocks, Turkeys and Insights from the Plains of Africa

Here is an idea for some free marketing which is guaranteed to get any clinic some new patients.  Sadly, I had this ‘lightbulb moment’ as a result of painful personal experience last Monday night!

Towards the end of last year a friend invited me to join a group of guys playing 7 a side football at a local school.  Aged from early 20s to early 50s, we play on Monday nights where three different games go on during a one hour session.

Last Monday, in the flush of enthusiasm to play well and impress my team mates, I over-exerted myself and am now walking with a sorry limp – the result of a serious groin injury.  I fear what would have been a highly illustrious football career needs to be cut short before I do lasting damage!

However on a very positive note, this has given me two valuable lessons which you can use to get new patients and at the end of this article, you can get a free template to help you.  Remember:

Every player gets an injury because our competitive heads will always, at some point, in some game, demand more than our bodies can deliver.

How do I choose the best clinic? 

Lesson 1 – Make Your Signage Strong & Keep It Fresh

There can be many pathways a patient follows to choose a clinic.  In my case, some time ago a neighbour mentioned a clinic where they received treatment and every day I drive past a sign for the clinic (not the actual clinic as it is located in a side street).

My neighbour’s recommendation, coupled with the burned imprint of the clinic in my mind led me to call this clinic.

How strong is your clinic signage?

Is it burning a message into the public’s subconscious?
Can someone driving past see what you do?
Do you change it ever to keep it fresh?

I know a very successful dentist; the practice has strong signage and in addition they have a temporary sign which enables them to display different banners with various messages.

Could you do something to make yourself more visible?  Think about why shops change their store front to keep things fresh: the same principles can apply to a clinic.

Lesson 2 – Get Out There To Grow Your Business

Every player gets an injury because our competitive heads will always, at some point, in some game, demand more than our bodies can deliver!

The sound of ‘ping’ or ‘crack’ signals when that has happened!

One evening a month why not go to places where sporting wannabes go to injure themselves.

In my personal painful experience, the pitches area has one entrance that every player files through to the car park.  If you position yourself here, you can hand a card or flyer to waiting/exiting players.

If associates are going out there, I would recommend that they hand out promotional business cards (with their name on) which include a voucher towards a future treatment (not a price-off treatment discount).  This gives the players a reason to keep the card and at the same time it gives you something to engage them with.

Alternatively if you are promoting the whole clinic, use a well branded A6 postcard.

You are not there to sell, just be friendly and spread your name.  Take an appointment book with you: you never know when the next groin-strain is going to happen!

The important point here is that 90% of clinics won’t bother to do this which is exactly why you should and it costs you nothing.  If you are wondering about the zebra photos, think about the best place for a lion to find lunch.  if you want more patients, go to where the patients are.

If you would like a free guide to a tried and tested Associate Incentive Scheme, please use the form below.

The ideal time to introduce yourself…

Getting injured is a bit of a joke amongst the players since everyone gets injured.  On football night they are in good spirits so this is a great time for you to connect with them.

Identify the astro-turf pitches in your area, find out when people play and go along there.

There will also be games of football, hockey, rugby etc on Saturday afternoon at the local park.  Go there in twos if you can, wearing branded jackets and give all the players a business card.

I don’t suggest leaving flyers on cars as this is too impersonal: make contact with real people so they can put a face/personality to the clinic.

Remember, you might not get a card to everyone but when someone does get injured, a fellow player may well mention your name.

Final word

You may not be used to getting out there amongst your public but if you do this consistently and regularly, you will enjoy the interactions and you will create a professional, friendly and accessible profile for the clinic – and you will undoubtedly get new patients.

Need some inspiration for your promotional business card or flyer?  Use the form below and I will send you a mock -up which you can tweak.

Good luck, have fun and enjoy watching strutting peacocks make turkeys of themselves!

Author: Stephen Small

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Back Pain Treatment: How mechanical treatment can help manual therapists treat back pain.

I am often asked why committed manual therapists treating back pain use the mechanical treatment tool, IDD Therapy.

There isn’t a short answer as there is so much which goes into the IDD Therapy programme, however one reason relates to the actual physical limitations of the hands and body.

The spine is incredibly strong and in certain ways, it is impossible to comfortably decompress chronically stiff and immobile spinal segments with the hands alone.  I made this short video at my local gym to graphically illustrate when and how the IDD Therapy treatment tool comes to the aid of the manual therapist.


It is important to stress that manual therapists use IDD Therapy for certain patients only.

This is not an industrial revolution style event of machine vs man.  Nothing can replace the sensitivity and dexterity of the hands, but there comes a time when patients need something more for their pain, which the hands-only treatment model cannot help.

IDD Therapy allows clinicians to comfortably distract and mobilise targeted spinal segments, with sufficient force and for sufficient time to have a therapeutic effect.  This is the essence of what sets IDD Therapy spinal decompression apart from traditional traction and why IDD Therapy is used by increasing numbers of manual therapists.

I should emphasise that IDD Therapy is not a stand-alone treatment.  It is a complete programme of spinal care which combines manual therapy, exercise and other modalities to help clinicians do more for back pain sufferers.

If you have any questions about IDD Therapy treatment, let us know in the box below or for more details visit European IDD Therapy representatives

Posted by: Stephen Small

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The Seven Pillars of a Painless Practice Book Review

The Seven Pillars of a Painless Practice is a must-read business development book for any clinic owner or would-be clinic owner.

Written by highly regarded clinician coaches, James Butler and Celia Champion of ‘Painless Practice’, the Seven Pillars is a straightforward framework which will make you think about the purpose of why you go to work, it will help you understand your ultimate goals and vision for your clinic and most importantly it will be your guide for what you need to do in between!

Established clinic owners may be aware of the elements in the book but so few take or have the time to stop, think and connect everything to get the most from their business.

Anyone on a journey of personal development will have already grasped common concepts relevant to all businesses, it is then about finding those golden nuggets which are your catalyst to take your clinic to the next level. The Seven Pillars has plenty of nuggets.

To buy the book or read the first chapter CLICK HERE.

I have known James and Celia for a number of years.  At a time when competition is growing and when long gone are the days of putting a sign on your door and an ad in the Yellow Pages to get the phone ringing, the book is well worth a read.

I read it in two evenings and made a lot of notes.  The Seven Pillars has plenty of ideas, illustrations and blank forms where you can jot down elements for your own business.  It also has the authors’ trademark sense of humour 🙂 and includes many quotes and practical references.

Final Word

As with all good business or life coaching books and audio programmes, the value comes not from the reading but when you actually pick up a pen afterwards and take action.

Want to do more in your clinic? You can buy the book or read the first chapter by CLICKING HERE

Posted by: Stephen Small

Exercise Compliance: Improving Exercise Compliance in Chronic Back Pain Patients Using a Pocket Diary.

This article examines the question of how to improve rehabilitation exercise compliance.  This is particularly important for patients who are recovering from chronic back pain who have lost the discipline of regular activity.

Assuming that the prescribed exercises are not unduly painful, the question is not “how do we help people to exercise more”, rather it is “how do we help people to develop self-discipline”.  

Evidence from other industries demonstrates that setting goals and keeping a diary of the new habit is the most effective way to maintain self-discipline to arrive at a goal.  I propose the use of pocket diaries as a key tool to improve rehabilitation exercise compliance for people with chronic back pain.

At the bottom of this post you can get a word document which explains to patients the purpose of the diary and how they can benefit from using the diary (you can have this in your patient info folder in reception or to give to new patients.)


How many clinics just give their patients a set of printed or hand written exercise instructions and essentially leave it to the patient to get on with it … or not?  I hear it all the time, patients don’t do their exercises.

Patients are people, who are also in pain.  Think of one thing you should do more of?  Why don’t you?

Is it to do regular exercise, weekly budgeting, retirement planning, investment evaluation, losing weight?

Whatever it is, it’s not about the thing, it’s about self-discipline.  To tackle exercise compliance therefore is to tackle self-discipline.

It is often said that the best innovation comes not from thinking “outside of the box”, but from thinking “Inside a different box”.  So let’s leave exercise and examine what other industries do to instill and create self-discipline.

Thinking Inside A Different Box

Here are some examples of how other industries develop self-discipline:

Personal Development: In order to develop habits to get you to where you want in life, it is universally acknowledged that we need goals.  Not just any goals, but WRITTEN down goals.  (See Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Bryan Tracey et al)

Financial: ‘Too much month, not enough money’? (Michael Heppel).  What is the first recommendation of any financial advisor when someone is having trouble making ends meet?  Write down and record everything you spend.  Then write down a budget and stick to it and record what you spend.

Weight Loss:  You’ve seen the programmes of people who have been clinically obese for years.  First they begin by recording everything they eat.  Then they measure and write down their key stats, then they set a diet/lifestyle plan and as they begin they monitor and write down what they did and how they progress.

School Homework:  My youngest daughter has a reading diary.  Her school expects her to read something every day and then write down what she read with comments from a parent.  In her mind, it is not an option for her to arrive at school without her teacher being able to see she has read something – even if that means reading in the car on the way to school!

The pattern is emerging and it isn’t rocket science.  What about exercise?

Olympic athletes: They write down and plan every training session and write down what they actually did in that training session.  It is impossible to reach that level without planning and recording.

Gym-goers: There are gym goers who arrive with a diary.  They have planned their exercise and they tick off what they do as they go around the different cardio and strength stations.  Whenever I do this myself, my workouts are 100% more effective … and fulfilling.


My principal interest is helping chronic back pain patients who have IDD Therapy Spinal Decompression treatment progress through their rehabilitation exercises.  However, this works for any patient who NEEDS to be doing exercise for rehabilitation.

Pocket Diary:  Patients should use a simple pocket diary to record their activity.  

GOAL: On the first page they should write down their goal, strictly with a timeframe but that can be difficult for certain patients and there is a balance of compliance and unrealistic patient expectation.

PLAN 1: Give your patient the exercises they need to perform and give each exercise a short name.  The patient will write down short names for each exercise they are going to perform in their diary.  It is important that THEY write them in THEIR diary to hardwire their brain into the process.

PLAN 2:  You should help them plan their first month of when and how many of each exercise they are going to do (this can include a walk to the shop to buy the paper).  Here you will identify the time slots when it is feasible for them to actually fit the exercise in.  Yes, we can all make time, but collecting kids from a swimming lesson or going to the pub with a friend creates excuse opportunities.

When you finish writing the plan, ask them one important question:  “Are you going to do it?”

HABIT: It is well documented that it takes 30 days to form a habit.  You need to hold their hand for that first month.  By setting achievable targets they are more likely to be able to ACCOMPLISH the targets.  That brings personal reward, fulfilment, belief and … self-discipline.

RECORD: Patient is going to write down EVERY activity they did and every exercise they did.  They have to write it down in their diary.

Exercise is self-discipline and comes from within.  If they need to get a buddy or partner involved, or even a personal trainer to help them, great, whatever works.


The killer point about the diary is the need to please others, ie you and not to lose face.

They have a written down plan and they have made a personal commitment to you and themself, verbally.

Tell them you want to see them in two weeks (or a month) and ask them to bring their (homework) diary.  You are holding them accountable and the inky plan on the pages of their diary is far more likely to hold them accountable to their activity than an idea floating in their head, some scribbles on a piece of paper or an exercise video sitting in their inbox.


You can get some branded pocket diaries very cheaply, or just have plain ones.  The cost is minimal so as a “value added service”, you can just give the diary to your patient or sell them at cost/ small profit.


Doing anything is always better than nothing.  The diary helps instill the self-discipline to do what is required to help resolve chronic back pain.

Doing what is required leads to improvement and reduced pain.  Improvement reinforces beliefs about what is possible.  Beliefs reinforce self-discipline.  Self-discipline leads to doing what is required, doing what is required leads to improvement …

Off the vicious and onto the virtuous circle. 

To receive a document which explains to patients the purposes of using the diary as part of your compliance process, complete the form below.

About the Author
Stephen Small is Director of Steadfast Clinics Ltd

Conflict of interest:  None

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