Sometimes you have to give something in order to get something back…

As anyone that reads this knows, I am a big fan of watching what other companies do in their marketing efforts and if something works, then I am the first one to copy it (albeit sometimes loosely disguised). For sure we have all seen one marketing trick that the very biggest brands use on a regular basis, and that is to give something away in order to persuade their customers to buy it again, maybe more than once. For anyone that doesn’t have a very big marketing budget (if any) this is always a fairly successful and low cost promotion and I often suggest something like it to our clients. Imagine how excited I was, therefore, when I was offered something myself as part of someone else’s marketing strategy!

When I first arrived in the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) one of the things that bothered all of us expats the most was getting sick. How would we find a doctor (or, even worse, a dentist!) that spoke English and how would we know if they were any good? And what if we had to go into hospital?! I, like many others, paid a huge amount each month to a private health plan that ensured that if I even broke a toenail I would be flown straight back to the UK for emergency treatment as, at least in those days, that was felt to be a much better option than ‘going local’!

Over the years, of course, things have changed considerably, and sadly I have now had enough experience of Czech doctors and hospitals to allow me to stop the private health care and feel relatively relaxed about the idea of seeing a Czech doctor – all of my experiences have been pretty good, and I absolutely love my dentist!

Amongst those changes are the various private hospitals and clinics that have sprung up, and one of those (I think the first) was the Canadian Medical Centre. For a while, many years ago, I went there to visit my sports doctor, but then he moved and I followed, and I have since forgotten about it. What a lovely surprise, therefore, when out of the blue just a couple of weeks ago I was offered a free visit to a choice of practitioner.

Those on offer were a physio, a dentist or a nutritionist. Having my own regular physio and the above-mentioned dentist, the nutritionist was always going to be my choice, and besides which, I have been considering seeing a nutritionist for a while, so it was a bit of a spooky offer to have one handed to me on a plate, so to speak.

I duly toddled along last week and pulled up outside the CMC’s home, which really is a lovely building and which has undergone a lot of changes since I last visited. You go in through a very nice entrance, and up the stairs to a really glam reception where, in case you are wondering (and I remember that I used to!) there were a number of different nationalities waiting, not just Canadians! I am afraid that the receptionist (which I will gloss over) did not quite meet the same standard, but once I was ushered in to see the nutritionist (Keely Fraser) I was ready to overlook the blip earlier on, and got right into the whole experience.

Despite being relatively at home with local doctors and so on, I do have to say that it makes a huge difference to be able to talk to someone in English – OK, we should all speak great Czech, blah, blah, blah, but when it comes to health things it really is a lot easier if we don’t have to think carefully about what we are saying or, even worse, speak through a translator. Plus, of course, you get a better sense of whether they really know their stuff or not if you are able to speak directly and easily. And she clearly did. Within a few minutes I was telling her all sorts of things that I would usually find difficult (language/translation/shyness) and at the end of the hour she more or less had to kick me out… And yes, I said, I would be back!

My next appointment (paid for) will be in two weeks’ time. So for a bit of effort by the marketing team, and one free consultation, they have me hooked. Who says giving something away for free doesn’t work!

In short, whilst I probably wouldn’t go there for every little thing anymore (but maybe if I had only been here a short while I would) there is no doubt that if you have a health issue, whatever it might be, being able to speak in your own language (and yes, there are Czech doctors there too), being in a very comfortable environment, and knowing that the doctor/person you are being treated by has met some pretty high standards is really worth paying for. I am a fan.

You can find more about the Canadian Medical Centre on: