Three ways to constrain the size and impact of your practice:
- Hire those who lack precision or work at a slow pace and then neglect to fully train them.
- Avoid the documentation of your procedures so you can change them whenever you wish.
- Stay holed up in your practice, rarely encountering strangers to share your unique version of health and healing.
Naturally, this is a recipe for disaster. Yet, there are chiropractors who implement one or more of these strategies and then seem surprised when they fail to earn a professional income.
It’s called a practice but it’s actually a business. Rarely do practices fail due to poor clinical results. Instead it’s often because some aspect of business is neglected or even resented.
Getting the practice part right equips you to help friends and family. Getting the business part right equips you to help an entire community.
7 Ways to Make 2017 Great
The beginning of the year is a great time to “draw a line in the sand,” “turn over a new leaf” and establish healthier habits. Here are seven suggestions that will make 2017 better than 2016. Guaranteed. Implementing any one of them will make a dramatic difference. Implement three or four (or more), and you’ll look back a year from now and see that this was the pivotal point at which everything changed—for the better.
1 | Disengage from the Media
It used to be that good citizenship meant reading the newspaper and watching the national television news broadcast each evening. But today, as media outlets have abandoned any notion of unbiased journalism, tuning into the “Borg” merely exposes you to either fear mongering or the most lurid, voyeuristic side of the human condition. Both are designed to capture your attention so it can be sold to advertisers.
Don’t worry. If they drop the big one or if some other tragedy worthy of knowing about occurs, there will be plenty of sheepeople who will breathlessly tell you about it. Meanwhile, you have a clear head, grounded in the truth and focused on those things you can actually do something about.
2 | Identify Ways to Help More People
When pressed, most chiropractors can name a dozen or more things that they could do, should do or have done that would attract more new patients. Many ideas are rejected because they represent a financial or, more frequently, emotional risk that they would prefer to avoid.
“What other ideas do you have?”
Success guru Zig Ziegler was famous for observing “that you can have anything you want, as long as you help enough people get what they want.” Nobel Peace Prize recipient Bob Dylan put it this way:
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
True enough. It may be that you’ll want to serve others in your community in non-chiropractic ways, such as serving at the soup kitchen. Donating your time and talents at a local charity or service club. Teaching a class of 5th graders about the systems of the body. The point? If your practice is slow, you absolutely must get out, encounter strangers and attend to their needs. Do this, and not only will your practice grow, your network (net worth) will grow too.
3 | Spend Quiet Time with Yourself
One of the unhelpful side effects of the proliferation of digital devices in our lives is an increasing distancing from the real world in favor of the online world. This is not healthy. Allowing Facebook to define what constitutes a friend and spending so much time judging and comparing our lives with others invites all manner of unhappiness and discontent.
Wake up 15 minutes earlier. Sit. Be still. Listen. Pray. Think. Listen. Meditate. Listen. Ask questions. Conduct thought experiments. Listen. Become mindful of your circumstances and how you created them or allowed them to be created on your behalf.
Make sure you know what is real and what isn’t.
4 | Complete an Unfinished Project
Are you a great starter but a poor finisher? It’s a common problem. Intention isn’t enough. Nor is simply having a good idea. They’re a dime a dozen. The acid test is implementation. Application. Execution.
Resolve now to identify those projects that have languished due to your inattention. Whether it’s updating your procedure manual, conducting regular team meetings, giving a formal report of findings or merely cleaning out a closet, your procrastination sends a message to your team that you’re really not that committed. So, they question how committed they should be.
5 | Update Your Online Reputation
You have two reputations: your real-world reputation, the one that creates trust and produces referrals, and your online reputation with Google. Neglect either one and you won’t get all the new patients you deserve.
If you don’t have a website yet (yikes!), check out our sister company Perfect Patients. If your practice is already on the Internet, freshen it up. Add professional photography. Rewrite your doctor bio and give it greater authenticity, answering a prospective new patient’s question, “Are you the right chiropractor for me?”
Even more pressing, make sure that your website is mobile friendly, automatically adapting to the screen size and resolution of smartphones and tablets. If it isn’t, Google will bury you so far from page one you might as well not even have a website.
6 | Raise Prices and Lower Your Overhead
If it’s been a while since your last price increase, the first of the year would be a good time to inch your fees upwards.
This seems to terrify many chiropractors who imagine that an increase of $3 to $5 will cause vast numbers of patients to defect to a competitor down the street, which is merely another way of saying, “Patients see me because I’m cheap.” Granted, there is a segment of your patient base who will use even a fair and modest price increase as an excuse to discontinue their care. No problem. They’re merely revealing the priority they place on their health.
If raising prices is too scary, at least compute what it costs you to deliver each patient’s care these days. Simply divide your monthly overhead by the number of patient visits you have in a month.
Remember, if you were still charging what you did when you started your practice, you probably couldn’t afford to be in practice.
7 | Improve Patient Communications
The most important patient adjustment you can give is the one between their ears. Yet, lacking formal training on how to engage patients and stimulate them to embrace new beliefs, most chiropractors simply make assertions and declarations. They call this patient education, yet it’s merely patient teaching, which is largely ineffective at producing change. (If you’re talking, you’re teaching.)
Instead, show up genuinely curious, asking questions and helping each patient become mindful of their beliefs and habits. Then, and only when asked, reveal your own beliefs. Create the circumstances for a respectful conversation, not a one-sided monologue in which you do all the talking.
Deep, profound listening is the secret known by the very best communicators. And it’s impossible to do if you’re filling the air with your own words.
Decide to Make 2017 Remarkable
It’s easy to allow circumstances to dictate our attitudes and level of commitment. And while it’s true that we can’t control what happens to us, we can certainly control how we respond to those circumstances. It’s a decision. Decide now to play full out and make 2017 your best year ever.