Episode 36 | Interview with Oren Hercz on Offering Herb Walks and Classes to Build your Practice

Use Herb Walks and Classes to Build your Practice

One of the biggest challenges when running a clinical practice is finding more clients. Over the years, I've found that teaching classes and workshops for the community is one of the best ways to meet new people who might be interested in coming in to work with me one-on-one.

When clients attend a group class or session with you, they can get a feel for your personality and the type of work you do. Often, it helps them feel connected to you and provides a sense of trust and confidence that you're a caring practitioner.

However, it's not always obvious how you can encourage people in group programs to work with you individually. In today's podcast, we'll talk to clinical herbalist Oren Hercz about how he offers herb walks and classes to support his community and build his practice. 

Oren shares a few tips and tricks he's picked up along the way, as well as detailed information about how he structures his herb walks and classes. 

If you've been thinking about offering herb walks or group classes but haven't felt comfortable doing so, this episode should give you some strategies to consider.

Resources

Oren's website and the link to his February Winter Mental Health workshop.

Oren also mentioned the Grow course, which will be running again at the end of March ❤️

About

Oren Hercz


Oren Hercz RHP has been in practice as a Clinical Herbalist since 2010, working in holistic health clinics, a family medicine office, and in private practice online.  He helps people living with chronic health issues who want to feel a greater sense of ease and wellness in mind and body. Oren also teaches classes and workshops, empowering people to become their own home herbalists and be proactive about their health.  He is a Registered Herbal Practitioner (RHP) with the Herbalist Association of Nova Scotia, where he currently sits on the board of directors.


Transcript of Offering Herb Walks and Classes to Build your Practice episode with Oren Hercz 

Episode 36 | Interview with Oren Hercz on Offering Herb Walks and Classes to Build your Practice - powered by Happy Scribe

Well, Hi there. Welcome to In the clinic with Camille. My name is Camille Freeman. I'm a licensed nutritionist and registered herbalist. And in this podcast, I share little tips and tidbits that might be interesting or helpful for other practitioners.

Okay, hi, everybody. Today we are welcoming Oren to the podcast to talk to us more about using herb walks and classes as a way to bring people into your private practice. So, Oren, could you start us off by just telling us a little bit about yourself?

Yes. Hi. So my name is Oren, and I live in Territory, Nova Scotia, Canada, and I'm a clinical herbalist. I have a private practice. I work with people, mostly people that have chronic health conditions. And I also do a fair amount of teaching. So I teach a year-long program, kind of a beginner's herbal program that involves plan ID and foraging and medicine making and all that kind of stuff. And I also teach classes and workshops. And I've been at this for a while. I've been a part-time, I would say a part-time herbalist for ten plus years. But just in the last two years, I left my kind of job, which was working as a director producer for a video production company, to focus on my herbal practice full time.

Great. Well, one of the things that I really wanted to talk to you about, the reason that I asked you to come on here is because I know you've been using herb walks and classes and finding that when you have those people are signing up to come and work with you one on one. So I was wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about what you've learned over the years from having these herb walks and let's start there. So, for example, how did you decide to start doing them? And how do you get people to sign up to come to your walks or your classes? Can you talk us through that? And then we'll go into the next part after that?

Yeah. I mean, I guess I'll say, like, before I was really fully immersed in my herbal practice, and I was just doing it part-time. I started to do a few classes here and there, really just for practice just because I wanted to do something. And I noticed, excuse me, I noticed right away that when people came to my classes, one or two people would approach me after and want to work with me. And I heard other herbalists and people say that this is a thing, and it definitely turned out to be a thing. And I felt like quite inexperienced at that time and that I wasn't even giving that great a class, but still, it was doing that. So then I guess when I started focusing on it full time, I just kind of ramped that up and started doing more classes. And also I took the grow program with you, Camille, and you helped me put a structure around that to try to do, like, a class a month. Because I guess what I realized is that for every 20 people or so that came from my class, one or two would want to work with me, and there would be other things that would happen to, like, interesting synergies.

Like I would need another practitioner, allied practitioner who would want to give me referrals and things like that. And then also, sometimes people would just join, like the way that I run my classes, people that come to my classes join my newsletter. I'm very upfront about that. And 99% of the people are very happy about that. They want to be on my newsletter. And so some people will just come, and then it becomes that thing where down the road they might decide to work with me. They're just kind of in my group, and they know about me, and we're in touch more often.

Great. Yeah. And so are you charging for these classes and herb walks?

Yeah. Okay. So maybe I'll talk about the herb classes separately because it's a little bit different how I approach the two. So let's talk about herb walks first. So I've always charged, always charging for herb walks, and I partner. This is one of the things just about how I fill the walks. Sometimes I'll promote them myself, just using Facebook and using my newsletter. And sometimes I'll partner with other organizations. An organization that I've partnered with quite a bit is my local municipality here in the municipality of Chester, where I live, and they have a recreation guide and host programming. And this guide goes out in the mail to every single person in my area. So they have their own distribution and sign up and all that. And it's really good for me because I don't have to do anything. They take a small percentage of what I charge, and it's always full, and there's often a waiting list. So that's been really great for the walks. Also for, the something I've realized is that people really like herb walks. I'll just put that out there for any other practitioners that are considering it. People really like Herb walks, and I think it's because it crosses a lot of different interests.

People may be interested in health. They might be interested in medicine. They might just be interested in hiking. And this is just a fun way to go on a walk outdoors. It's a pandemic. Spending time outdoors is considered pretty safe, and people really need it. I found that my herb walks have all been full, and the ones that have promoted myself, same thing! I did one, and I had to open up a second one because I capped it - 20 people. Maybe that's something also to mention in terms of sizes for her blocks is that I found that, like, 20 people is, like, a good maximum, not only for pandemic safety stuff, but also just for engagement and being able to develop a good relationship with the group and not just feel like it's too overwhelming. That's been my personal ten to 20. Seems like a good sized group.

Great. And I'm assuming you're mainly doing the herb walks in the warmer months of the year.

Actually, I'm doing one this weekend on Sunday.

Are you exciting? Okay, so what do you look at? I'm assuming there's not a ton of herbs out right now.

It's ice and snow here. Like, it's cold winter here where I live. No, there's not. But you know what? There's trees and there's lichens and there's mushrooms, and so the snow isn't that deep, but there's things like Wintergreen and there's herbs that are there, that you can still see in this climate. There's still green underneath the snow that you can kind of dig and find. So it's kind of fun for people. I think people find it quite exciting to just see all the life that's happening in the wintertime. And something else. I mentioned my herb walks. The thing we do at the end of the herb walk, which I found has been really nice that people really like and also helps to create a good opportunity for conversation among the group is we'll make a tea at the end of the herb walk. Like a wild tea. That's really fun, too. Enough. And then we can totally do in the wintertime with conifers and things like that. That's a real draw for people. I think something I didn't realize of people how much they dig that aspect of the walk. In fact, I gave one herb walk. I do the rain or shine, and I gave one and it was raining and people were getting wet, but they stuck around to drink that tea.

Like, you could tell that they were getting uncomfortable, but they were not leaving until they could drop a wild tea.

I love it. And do you bring a kettle? Do you have a fire? How do you get the water for the tea?

Yeah, I'm like, into backpacking and stuff. So I have a bunch of gear, so I have a gas stove, and I just pack in the water. So I just have it all with me, like, in a giant backpack, and I just kind of stash it somewhere or I'll leave it in the car if it's the place where we're going to go back and there's, like, some picnic benches or something, depending on where I'm hosting it. So it is a little bit of a thing, like, in terms of set up. Like, it's a pain, but it's worth it. I feel like it's worth it. Yeah.

It sounds like it's a highlight for the participants.

Yeah.

Okay. All right. So you're doing your herb walks, you're charging. You find that somewhere between ten and 20 is a good range. Now talk to us about. Oh, go ahead. One more time.

I'll just make sure I don't charge a lot, but I don't think there's a lot. I'll charge $20 or less for a herb walk. I think I probably could charge more, but I like it being accessible, and I just want it to be really easy for people to come. Like, the purpose of the herb walk for me is not really to make money. It's more to meet people.

Got it. Okay, so talk to us about the classes, because that sounds like a slightly different setup.

Right. So classes have been on Zoom. I hope to do some more in person classes in the future, and those I mostly hosted myself. I've tried partnering with other organizations for those, too, but it doesn't always work out as well, I found. So I think maybe I need to work on how I do that. But the one times when I partner with other organizations, sometimes nobody's showed up like I did. I did one in person, one actually a little while back at the library, and one person came and I just felt like it was up to them to promote it. And so it's just I really leave it in their hands. So it depends on how good or for a job they do of promoting it. There was another one I did the library that was great. So it's like just touch and go depending on what their promotion is like. But it was still good practice. I've just gotten used to this idea that they're not always going to be full. And sometimes I've had really good talks with just a couple of people, so it's still very much worth it for me. So anyways, the ones back to the ones that I do myself, I promoted mostly through my newsletter and Facebook.

I've been trying to be very consistent with my newsletter over the last six months or so. And every time I do one of these classes, I know more people are added to it. So I've just been doing it that way, and it seems to be working all right. I have a class coming up in February on herbs for wood, for mental health, and that one I'm trying this new thing that I learned from you, Camille, which is to say to people, instead of charging for this class, could you please would you share it, share it with a friend or post it on social media? And that seems to have worked really well. Like, I just posted that only through my newsletter, and a lot of people have signed up, so I think that's working quite well. I don't know if there's a lot more to say about the classes, except that I was terrified that nobody was going to them at all. I'll just mentioned that for other people that are new to this, and I've learned that that's like a super common fear and just kind of did it anyway.

Yeah. Okay. And so when you're coming up with your topics for your classes, how are you choosing what to speak about.

Okay. So there was one class that I've done a few times, which was I called it Healing Chronic Health Issues with Herbal Medicine, the title of the class. And I chose that topic because I work people with chronic health issues. And I wanted to be a class where people could come and learn about what's the herbal approach for working with people with chronic health issues, maybe learn some things, hopefully, learn some things that they can apply right away, but also learn sort of all of what's involved and so they can understand, like, what a practitioner has to offer and why that might be a useful idea. So in that class, I talked about maybe I won't go too much into the nuts and bolts of the class, but I do, like, I do share examples from my clinical practice, and I talk about things that people might be wondering about, like what if you're on medications and things like that and all these kind of areas where working with the practitioner is really beneficial. And so that's why I kind of chose that topic for that, so that people could understand part of it so people understand why working with a practitioner would be a good idea.

And now I'm just kind of experimenting with different topics because I feel like that I've done that class a few times, and in my community anyway, I just feel like I can't do it so many times. Like, I could probably do it twice a year, and then I have to sort of do other things. So this winter one, I just thought this seems appropriate for the time, for this particular time with the pandemic and how people are feeling and also just winter in general. So I thought it's seasonal. It's probably a good idea. I'll probably do other classes and areas of focus for me. Like, I might do a class on, like, heartburn and Gerd is an area that focused for me and digestive issues. So I might do a class on that. So it's really an experiment. But focusing on things where I feel like I have some expertise and some experience and has something to offer is kind of how I've approached it.

Got it. Okay. So the last thing I want to hear more about is how are you actually let me rephrase that question. Do you have any tips for how to get people who are at your classes or your herb walks to then come in and work with you privately? Are you doing anything in particular? Have you found things that work or don't work in terms of helping people make that transition from coming to a group program to a one on one work?

Yeah, I think I do. And maybe I'll just use the herb walk examples first because people come to her walks for a lot of different reasons, which is great. Some people are just interested, like I mentioned earlier, to go on a hike and see some plants. And for whatever reason, when I first started doing herb walks, I kind of shied away from talking about my clinical practice too much because I thought, well, that's not really what people are here for. They want to learn how to identify stuff and learn about the wild. But then I started I think this is, again, also some advice that you gave me, Camille, was to give more examples from my practice when I'm talking about the plans, because that helps people to connect what we're doing outside to maybe a health issue that they might have that they might need help with because people don't always make that connection directly in their mind. So what I started doing on my herb walks is if I'm talking about, I start to give an example of how I might have used that plant with a client recently in my practice, and also just talk a little bit more about how this plant would be used as part of a broader program.

And it's not just that this plant is good for blah, blah, and that's all there is to it. There's all these other considerations. And when I get into the case study of my client, I can kind of go into that a little bit more. And then so I think that helps people that might not know me to see in a different light and to see sort of the breadth of what herbal medicine is all about. Like, yes, it's about just having fun and picking wild things and foraging, but it's also about working with complicated, chronic health issues. And it's the whole gamut. It's the whole spectrum. I think that actually helped. And I noticed when I do that more that more people are coming to the after and saying, oh, I think maybe I should work with you, or I know so and so that needs to see you or something like that. So I do find that that's helped quite a bit. And when I do my classes, I always at the beginning of the class, say, when we're done, I'm going to let you know before we do questions. I'm going to let you know if you're interested in working with me or want to go deeper, how you can do that.

And then when I finish the talk, I found the best time to do it is like, before we do questions. So I do my talk, and then I say, it's really very short because I'm pretty shy about really promoting myself or asking people to work with me. So it's pretty low key, which is fine. That seems to work fine. At the end of my talk, I'll just say, like, really brief. Just let them know how they can work with me, that I do one on one work, that I teach these classes, and they can get in touch if they're interested. And then we go on to questions so it's not like the last thing. It's just kind of a little break. And then we do questions after. And then I guess the other thing I'll say just to add to that is anybody that comes up to me after, like a walk or a class and expresses any interest in working with me. There's different levels. Some people are like, I need to look into see you right away. Some people are like, oh, yeah, maybe I should work with you. I've got this thing going on.

Can you help with that with those people? I always follow up via email and just let them know, pointing to my website, to my consultation page, and let them know how they can, if they're interested, how they can work more with me. And with everybody that's in my classes, I usually send some kind of a follow up that's just more general. Like, oh, here are some foods or walk. I might send something, but here are some letters we talked about without saying anything about you can come work with me. It's just to keep the connection going and offer them something. So I'll only really follow up directly with people if they express some interest. Yeah, but I will do that. I do find that helps to do that follow up.

Yeah. Okay. So you're weaving in some discussions of how you would use the herbs clinically or mentioning that you do one on one work throughout the walk, and then you do a small little plug before questions, and then you'll individually follow up with anybody who expressed interest during the walk. Is there anything specific about classes that's different, or is it more or less the same type of flow?

Yeah, it's more or less the same type of flow in classes. I have to say that I find that when you meet people in person, it does establish a stronger connection. Not that you can't do it online, but for anyone that can do in person stuff, I just find it more people will approach me after when I meet with them in person. So I do find it's a little more challenging, I guess I'll say online, but it's pretty much the same flow. And yeah, I don't think it's too different. I'll also mention, like, I record my classes and send out the recording, and I was surprised. Like, I didn't think who's going to watch the recording. But no, people do watch the recording and some people will watch the recording and then they'll email me after. So that's neat. And then you have the recording. I haven't really done much with my recordings, but I feel like I could there's some potential there to do something with those. Yeah.

You have a little library of recorded classes going on. I love it. Okay, great. Is there anything else you'd like to share with people who are thinking about using classes or walks to build up their practice?

Well, I'll just say for me, it's just for me personally, it's the way to go. I don't really like sitting in front of my computer and doing social media stuff. I do a little bit of it. I don't count doing classes sitting in front of my computer, although I know it is, but it's, like, more interactive. Like, I really like interacting with people, and so I just find that just a really great way to do that. I feel like fortunate that I have a bit of a public speaking background or a bunch of theater. So speaking groups is not, like, so terrifying for me. Although I will say that doing it as an herbalist, I found much scarier than other kinds of performance because this is. I don't know, it just felt much closer to my heart. I just felt much more vulnerable. Even though I had some public speaking experience, I felt much more vulnerable teaching classes. So anyway, all that to say, once I got over that, I just feel like it feels very fulfilling just doing the class itself and just being able to share with herbal medicine has to offer with people.

And people regularly tell me that they're getting a lot out of it, whether they come to work with me or not. And that just feels really good that I'm able to do that in the world and that it also helps me as well, helps me build my practice. Those are the kinds of things I want to do that feel nourishing to me and are also helping people in my practice. So that's why. Yeah. So I just feel like classes for me anyway are the same. Maybe it's not for everybody, but I found that they've been a great fit for me.

Oh, I love it. Sounds like a perfect situation. All right, well, thank you so much, Oren, for coming in and sharing a little bit about this for the benefit of other people who might be interested in using this as a strategy. Do you want to tell us anything about how to stay in touch with you or I know you mentioned you've got a class coming up in February. Any ways for people to stay in touch if they want to learn more about that?

Yeah, I think the best way is to go to my website, which is my name, orenhercz I'll just spell it O-R-E-N-H-E-R-C like cat,- Z dot ca (orenhercz.ca) Oren Hercz, you could probably just Google Clinical Herbalist in Nova Scotia. You might find me that way, too. And all the information is on there. There's a page for classes, and you can sign up for my, in my February class on there and can see all my other offerings. My one on one work and my year long program, it's all on there. That's probably the best way. I'm also on Facebook, but like I mentioned, I'm not huge into social media, so I do use it, but not that much website is probably the best way right now.

Yeah and people can join your newsletter from your website if they'd like to, right?

Yeah, on the homepage on the home page. It's right there. Sign up for my newsletter. We'd love to have you.

Great. Awesome. Thank you so much Orin and really appreciate you coming to share this information with us.

Great. Well, thanks for having me, Camille. Appreciate it. Bye.


About Camille

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and reproductive health. I mentor other practitioners who need help building and growing their practices, working with complicated clients and getting clinical hours. I have a doctorate in clinical nutrition, and I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating. 

My pronouns are she/hers. 

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