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March, 2014

Get Out of Neutral and Accelerate Patient Volume

By Drew Stevens, PhD

At its extreme, many chiropractors today are dangerously concerned about the practice. With the numerous changes in healthcare laws such as Obamacare, and even new insurance requirements, the business of chiropractic has altered forever. Many today find building the practice exceedingly difficult while also trying to maintain revenue. Unfortunately, what used to be very easy has now become a daily challenge.

Many chiropractors are finding that they suffer from roller coaster revenue. Thereby this halts the ability to not only pay daily and monthly expenses but also save for retirement. The added stress has created for them a myriad of personal and professional issues very rarely seen in the industry.

acceleration - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Yet, while many struggle, there are others that seem to flourish. There are those that are constantly creating revenue streams that enable them to live a happy and healthy life. What is it that allows them to thrive in today's struggling economy? The answer incredibly is right in front of you and I want to share some of those thoughts with you in this brief article. These thoughts are based upon four pragmatic yet important principles: modeling, marketing, money and motivation.

First Gear: Modeling

Many doctors of chiropractic tend to use a one-dimensional business model. This denotes that most chiropractors offices are based around a theory of simple adjustment and manipulation. This practice was efficient back of the 1980s and 90s, however, as more universities matriculated students, competition has increased exponentially. Take a look at any urban setting where there is a chiropractic college or university and you'll see listed within Google or the Yellow Pages a potpourri of chiropractors. As a patient seeking chiropractic help whom do you call?

Since many chiropractors use the same methods and rote advertising tools there is no differentiation in the message. This then confuses the patient who most of the time decides not to take any action. Therefore, chiropractors today must establish true business model in order to rise above the competition and be heard amongst the incredible noise.

One of the best methods for chiropractors to do this is to recast the brand and the business model. As I mentioned, most chiropractors tend to use adjustments as their main method of operations. This then results in a cash poor operation. And simply the best way to recast the brand is to look around your patience and hear what they have to say. You might also listen to the regional demographics and listen to their wants and needs. For example, during his tenure at Apple, Steve Jobs once said that their passion is building products based upon what the people want. So, when patients in the area demand more wellness and nutritional advice, perhaps that requires some review. Or, if consumers in the area are demanding obesity consultation, perhaps that is something that requires review. All of this obviously is based upon your passion and your competence. However, by establishing a business model based upon what the consumers want, your practice will be more lucrative.

Consider this for a moment. Today's patient has numerous issues attempting to visit their primary care physician. They can see you more easily than they can see their own primary care doctor. Who by the way will quickly dismiss them by writing the script and then forging on to the next patient. Your training and education in kinesiology, biochemistry, physiology and anatomy as well as nutrition can offer some advice to the patient. Why not then offer some type of wellness advisory in addition to adjustments and manipulation?

Additionally, patients today suffer from two well-known issues: nutritional deficiency and stress. With these issues, as we know many patients tend to self diagnose, by taking a myriad of off-the-shelf products. Chiropractors can offer numerous nutritional supplementary products while also creating a passive income stream. There are many chiropractors today making thousands of dollars a month by offering wellness consultation, supplementation and manipulation. Therefore, it is helpful to start considering a three-dimensional approach to your business model.

2nd Gear: Marketing

The doctor of today needs to understand that they are the brand. Having a great brand is essential to creating the attraction took assistant representations of quality. When patients are attracted to the doctor, they do so because of the dynamic relationship they have for the brand. This is what separates those that survive versus those that thrive.

In order to help establish the relationship with a variety of patients, especially as it correlates to building a brand, chiropractors must engage in marketing. Marketing creates need. The more effective you are with your marketing, the more people will be drawn to you. The more traction you create, the less of a factor your fee or credentials will play in the decision making process and the more people want to work with you. Superb marketing then helps to establish relationships with your potential patient base.

This is counterintuitive to the way that most doctors think. Many believe that placing a sign on the strip mall kiosk or placing an advertisement in a regional periodical will draw patients to you. Not true in today's highly competitive markets. There is simply too much noise due to the high levels of technology in our lives. Therefore, in order to rise above the din, chiropractors need to learn some lessons from large companies. That is they need to spend approximately 90% of that time on marketing in order to reach out to prospects. It is incumbent upon doctors to get out of their comfort zone and tell prospective patients how good they are, but then again additional marketing activities will always bring prospective patients to the doctor. Marketing his got to be a daily event, not weekly or monthly, but daily

Third Gear: Money

Many chiropractors today suffer from money ills. By this I mean that many chiropractors have little money in the bank for retirement, for savings and heaven for bid emergencies. The most important rule of law is that doctors need to pay themselves first. Too many today operate from the perspective of fear and immobilize themselves. They either charge too little, they don't collect fees at the door, they spend too much on lavish goods and services, pay too much for rental space and never seem to put money away.

Chiropractors must pay themselves first, it's that simple. The issue with most chiropractors is that they over invest in their business and under invest in family. It is incumbent upon chiropractors to become more scrupulous about expenses. The doctor must know what the required output for each month as well as account receivables. Then based upon those receivables, the doctor must utilize the smart method of personal investment. By this I mean 30% for retirement, 30% for savings and 30% for personal or family use. When you learn the cardinal rule of paying yourself first, you will have more placed away for retirement and emergencies then it any other point in your life. The problem with most doctors as well as most entrepreneurs, is when they see it they burn it. What separates a thriving doctor from anyone else is that he or she uses smart investment principles for not the present but also the future.

Fourth Gear: Motivation

There is nothing quite like operating a business that is your passion. As a chiropractor, your passion is helping to heal people or illustrate a method for total wellness. In a sense, your application becomes your occupation. To that end, you're creating a wealth of communities where people come to learn and respect you. Therefore tilting these communities takes time, takes patience and also articulating your value.

Patients like consumers, desire to do business only with those that they respect and trust. These two highly regarded adjectives stemmed from the doctor incorporating a tremendous customer service culture. Given our present world of "high tech high touch," the customer experience is more important today than ever before. Simply put, one bad experience placed upon a social media platform might instantly thwart any new patients. The motivation for any doctor of chiropractic today must be to treat them right before, during and after every patient interaction. This by the way also includes the front desk and all staff. If the culture of the practice does not maximize true customer motivation then the practice will find itself sparse and without patients. Doctors must think in terms of building large-scale communities similar to the matter in which Facebook and Apple have created theirs.

Operating a practice today is certainly different than it was 20 to 30 years ago. The doctors today, whether solo or with an associate, must really take the time to think of themselves as a corporation that requires sympathetic communities. When a doctor recasts their image and conducts a significant amount of marketing and patient care, that will be newfound revenues. What is required is quite a bit of introspection, integration and implementation of new methods and overall change. The doctor and staff cannot be fearful of change, they simply need to overcome it by meeting the challenge head-on to help advance the business. The only way to thrive in our new competitive world is to make certain changes so that you're not constantly stuck in neutral and accelerate towards higher levels of success.


Drew Stevens, PhD, is known as "The Revenue Doctor." He helps chiropractors develop strategies that exponentially grow revenue and returns personal time. He is the author of eight books including the widely acclaimed "Practice Acceleration" by Greenbranch publishing. He can be reached through his website at www.stevensconsultinggroup.com.

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