Tips for Successful Retailing
When it comes to developing and implementing a successful retail strategy for your practice, you might feel overwhelmed. One important thing to understand is that selling patient products out of your office can not only create an extra revenue stream for your business, but it can also help improve patient outcomes.
Dr. Patrick Engracia and Dr. Andrea Lubaway, two DCs at the Sport and Spine Rehab in Rockville, MD, shared some of their chiropractic marketing ideas and tips for product research and selection that have increased sales and patient satisfaction at the SSR. Read on to learn what tried and true product selling points Engracia and Lubaway practice when retailing to patients.
Retailing Products You Believe In
Before you order products to fill your retail space in your lobby, think about how the products you choose reflect on your treatment techniques and philosophy as a chiropractor. A great place to start when first selecting your inventory is with the products you have the most confidence in and use on a regular basis.
Having firsthand experience with a treatment product can open up new retailing opportunities. Engracia and Lubaway began working at Sport and Spine Rehab a month apart, and even though they attended different chiropractic schools, they both were introduced to McKenzie Rolls and used them frequently while in school. This common product knowledge led them to feel comfortable educating both patients and their peers about the benefits received and retail opportunity.
“We worked with McKenzie Rolls a lot at school, but it wasn’t a product we sold at our practice,” Engracia said. Lubaway and Engracia both enjoyed using the roll and felt that SSR treated patients that would benefit from using the product at home.
“We talked to our clinic director and explained that it was something that we liked to use and how we thought that it helped us,” Engracia explained, “Now, the McKenzie Roll is probably the product we sell the most, with the exception of bands.”
Educate by example
Would you ever buy a car from a salesperson who’s never driven a car? Your patients will want you or your staff to be knowledgeable about the products you retail before making a purchase. If you’re able to answer their questions with regards to utilization, technique and expectations based on past experience, then your patients will feel empowered to make a purchase.
Engracia and Lubaway agree that encouraging your staff to try out new products before recommending them to patients is the best way to foresee potential patient questions. Give your staff a chance to experience how the product works and what it can do so everyone is prepared to answer questions and make educated recommendations if objections are raised. Being a source of knowledge, especially concerning application, is an important advantage for your clinic when competing against big box retailers for the patient’s dollar.
“This profession is all about educating your patients and being able to modify something specific [for patient comfort or performance] based on their personal condition, and if you don’t understand the product, then you can’t do that” Lubaway explained when describing her technique for working with patients unsure about at home treatment products.
“When the patient comes back with questions, we need to understand what their problem is and how we can correct it” Lubaway said. She returns to the McKenzie Rolls example: “I know that some patients need to break it in longer, so it’s all about understanding the ins and outs and the subtle nuances.”
Lubaway and Engracia agreed that their retail successes are derived from having familiarity with their products, educating their staff and being able to troubleshoot patient questions and concerns.
Engracia makes sure to test products before suggesting them to patients not only so he can vouch for them, but also so he can use his own pain relief and corrective experiences as personal marketing material for unsure patients.
“When I introduce a product to a patient, I will let them know that it’s something I use. I keep a McKenzie Roll under my chair and sometimes I’ll tape my back with kinesiology tape before a shift to help support me” Engracia said, suggesting that other DCs might experience higher retail volume if patients knew that their chiropractors actually use products they’re recommending. “It gives patients trust in you as a doctor and in the products you suggest,” Engracia said.
Do your research
Your patients look to you to be the front lines with regards to knowledgeable insight on health and fitness products, so it’s important to stay informed.
Utilize your distributor, tradeshows, webinars or even online search engines when it comes to finding information to support the benefits of the products you sell. If you start with a reputable chiropractic source of information (organizations to which you belong, magazines to which you subscribe), then you will be exposed to new studies and editorials about the products you’re considering retailing.
Engracia and Lubaway not only use the internet to collect information, but they also read consumer articles that suggest new health and fitness trends that their patients follow. By anticipating patient wishes for education and product, Engracia and Lubaway stay relevant and an important source of information to their patients.
Many products have research validating their claims—use these reports to fuel your chiropractic marketing ideas. By educating yourself on the studies performed on specific products, you can sell from a science-based perspective.
“For a McKenzie Roll, the institute itself has published studies about the Newtons of force applied based on sitting with the roll versus without, so having the study information is good” Lubaway noted.
Make copies of studies available behind your front desk for staff members to reference when talking to patients about the research behind a product’s performance. With some products, though, tried and true experience can be the best tool when it comes to making a recommendation.
“If I’m selling a band to a patient and they ask me questions about how long it’s going to last, my answer is going to be based more on my rehab knowledge and my experience with the product” Lubaway said, noting that studies about band performance can help enhance the perceived benefits to a patient, but may not always be as convincing as practical experience and familiarizing the patient with the product in the clinical setting.
Benefits of retailing products in your office – final takeaways
What can you expect from your patients and business when you begin retailing in your office? The following list provides you with a general idea of what happens when you take the step toward surrounding patients with the tools to accomplish enhanced wellness:
- Improved patient outcomes
- An extra revenue stream for your business
- A reputation as a health and fitness expert in your community
DC Aligned is proud to bring you tips and strategies from colleagues like Engracia and Lubaway who have a successful track record with retailing products to their patient base. Have you had success retailing in your practice as well? Let us know your experience in the comments and help up-and-coming DCs establish their own retail marketing strategy.