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February, 2014

Five Things You're Probably Not Doing (But Should Be)

By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the day-to-day routine of running a practice in today's economy. Working additional hours and following a practice system that is successful for you feels safe and the very thought of adding something new is overwhelming. The "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality is easy to adopt. However, you may be shortchanging yourself, staff, patients and your practice by not opening up to new possibilities and the addition of change. The status quo is popular because it's safe. Unfortunately "safety" is stagnation. Moving to the next level often requires change and a willingness to take calculated risks. Falling into a rut of routine can be the downfall for a practice in today's marketplace. The world moves at lightening speed and adapting to change is the new rule of success. Failure to notice the change is commonplace when you get caught up in focusing on the same old things. Open your eyes to new possibilities and breathe new life into your practice. Oftentimes, we don't do things because the fear of failure grips us and stepping outside our comfort zone is painful. When you put yourself out there and stretch to new boundaries you discover that everything in life you desire lies just outside your comfort zone. Let's take a look at some things you should be doing in your practice to push those boundaries.

Staff Meetings

social media - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Teamwork leads to success. A cohesive team of like-minded people who understand what is expected of them and the role they play is critical. Organize at minimum a monthly staff meeting at the office. Ideally, every week is best to ensure nothing slips through the cracks or gets overlooked with topics important to the practice. Order lunch for the entire staff and make it an informal get together. Just like dinner around the table brings a family closer together, lunch around the office table brings a staff together. You can use the lunch as a business tax write off, too.

Key components of the meeting should include:

  1. Each staff member brings in a list of topics important to them and their job responsibility.
  2. Each person shares a positive experience for the week in their job or patient interaction.
  3. List of goals for the period between last meeting (New patients, PVA, return patients, marketing, etc.)
  4. Problems needing resolution or addressing regarding patients.
  5. Review of each new patient for the week.
  6. Share a positive quote of the week.
  7. Round table of ideas for the practice and marketing.

Staff Development

Staff makes or breaks a practice. Staff are on the front lines with patients every day and they see things you never will. Keeping them happy, motivated and well trained is a must. It cost money to lose a staff member and invest in properly training a new person. You also run the risk of someone not blending in with the team and it looks bad from a patient perspective to have a revolving door of staff, especially the front desk. Invest in training staff to become better at their job responsibilities, but more importantly, in the area of communication and human relationships. Personality counts in every position of your staff. You can hire anybody to complete a task, but a winning personality cannot be duplicated.

Some investment suggestions include:

  1. Dale Carnegie courses on communication and public speaking.
  2. Practice management courses.
  3. Marketing courses.
  4. Bring them with you to association meetings and industry conventions.
  5. Buy them books to read on pubic relations, people skills, and marketing.

Social Media Marketing

Old school marketing is dead. Newspaper. Television. Radio. They don't hold impact anymore. Social media is the new norm. Embrace it or get left behind. You might not understand how it works or why it works, but you better learn how quick, fast and in a hurry. Do you have a Facebook business page? Are you on Twitter? Is YouTube full of your business videos and patient testimonials? It should be. If you don't have the time or the patience to launch a social media campaign hire someone to do it for you. Your staff probably has experience in social media and you should ask if they want additional responsibility. High school students are perfect for this job. Hire them part time and they can work remote. The key to social media is consistency. Post good content on a regular basis and establish a connection with your audience. The keyword in social media is the word "social." People seek out professionals for help based on personal referral and recommendations of friends. If you are not on Facebook how can they talk about you? How can they "tag" you in a comment. Social media allows you to target your niche patient base from searches of blogs, forums, apps and media sharing sites. Take action now. Join Facebook and let the connections begin.

Patient Value Day

Showing value and appreciation to your patients for choosing you as their doctor cannot be put into words. People crave value and appreciation above all else. It shows respect. Remember you would not be in business if it were not for your patients. Think of them as customers. They can choose to see anyone for their healthcare needs and they chose you. Think about what that says. Another human being puts the ultimate trust of their health and their family's health in your hands. You should show your gratitude every day in how you interact with patient's by giving the top quality service. Go above and beyond on a special Patient Appreciation Day and make it a full fledged celebration. Put up banners, balloons, flyers and offer special discounts based on your individual state laws of professional conduct. Post the event on your Facebook page and send an "" invitation (a website invitation service) to your contact list. Many practices thrive and grow rapidly from hosting Patient Appreciation Days, especially with new offices. One of the keys to hosting a successful event is to select a theme. It's the easiest and most beneficial thing you can do. Themes carry a lot of weight towards your success. Themes tell a story. They excite. They harness team spirit. They create interest. And, best part – they increase attendance! If your patients and guests see fun and excitement in your theme, they'll change their schedules to make your event.

Laser Therapy

Lasers are a hot buzzword in the healthcare field. More and more people are hearing about the success stories of laser therapy helping alleviate musculoskeletal pain syndromes. Today and in the coming years laser therapy will be a high-tech sought after treatment by patients. Laser therapy uses the process of photobio-regeneration to enhance cellular chemical processes for faster healing. It's a non-invasive, non-painful treatment that can be combined with other therapy modalities. You can jump start your practice by branding it as cutting edge and state-of-the-art by introducing this effective modality. In business, you are either the steamroller or the pavement. Effective marketing combined with a successful treatment system determines which one your practice will be. Laser therapy can help move your practice to a higher quality, volume and fee structure. It can be a new profit center for your office. Internal and external marketing will become much easier with the right laser therapy device. Contact a few laser therapy companies and have them come out to you for an onsite demonstration. Compare different classes of laser, like class 3 and class 4. Each has a different application and treatment process. You need to see which one resonates with you and your practice style.

Compare results from different classes and manufacturers and pick the one that is right for you. Treat and ask your staff which one they prefer. Do the same for your patients. Do your due diligence in researching the right laser for you.

If you are already doing some of the strategies listed above, bravo! That is a testament to your commitment and dedication to doing what you love. If you are not, simply implement one at a time and see the changes for yourself. Be observant of how people react and comments they make about the changes. With a newfound vision and excitement in the air, you just might find yourself wanting to try more new things. Don't be stagnant. Get caught up in the riptide of change. New goals will be achieved. New levels of success can be obtained. And the complete joy of taking back control of your life and your practice will resonate in everything you do.

Click here for more information about Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA.

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