I like studying business, marketing, and sales. I am a book geek and I immerse myself in these things and join high-end business coaching groups to learn about how other professions deal with business challenges. I do this because chiropractic changed my life and I have a crush on it. I even created a T-shirt line that demonstrates my enthusiasm for chiropractic. One of the basic lessons I first learned was to divide your business into three categories and grade yourself in each category.
The categories are:
How many new people are coming into your business? In the early years of a chiropractic practice, years 3-5, this is often the biggest struggle. It takes time and energy to create recognition in your community. I often compare this work to the work of a rocket ship. When a rocket ship is taking off, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to lift it off the ground. But as it continues on its journey, it becomes self-propelling and requires less energy. And so it can be in ideal circumstances in a chiropractic office. In the beginning, it takes more effort to get your name out, but as the years go on, you can expend less effort. For newbies, there are many different paths to creating a name and reputation for your practice; but for this blog, I am focusing on people who have had a practice for a while, have a butt-load of inactive files, and almost no new patients. They have low numbers of new people after many years of practice, and a ton of potential referral sources. Why?
A confused mind says no, and will not refer. Often, the public is confused about what you do. (One of my favorite lil people calls me, “Dr. Ham, Chirotractor.” I know this is offered up as a great compliment because the kid lives, eats and breathes tractors, but it is gonna create some confusion in one of us if it goes on!) Often there are BIG objections that people have to your office that you have not overcome. Some of these include:
A. My friends are not going to like this experience because it is too:
- Long Term
- In Your Face
On some level they are “enduring” certain things in your office that they do not like, because they need or have found help. You need to have big eyes and ears and make a list of what the 25 most common objections are, and start brainstorming with your team about loving and intelligent ways to overcome these objections.
B. They may not know how or why to refer. Chiropractic is different than other allopathic experiences. People do not know what you know. Recently someone in our waiting room heard someone else telling someone on our team about how incredible it is to breathe during allergy season. She had come in for shoulder pain, and was so THRILLED that her body was adapting better to the allergens in the air.
C. They are not thinking about you. People are freakin’ busy. Like crazy nuts-o insane-o busy. They are not spitefully neglecting to refer to you. They are not even thinking about the growth of your practice. They are not thinking about saving the lives of their friends, either. They are thinking about getting through today, and then a little about others, but they are not going out of their way to refer people. It is not personal. Just mentally step in their shoes and think about how to make their chiropractic experience SO AMAZING that they cannot help but share you with others. And that is MORE than just the adjustment: it’s the service, the ease of scheduling, the clarity of finances, and the clear cut plan of action.
A few weeks back, I mentioned that some of my coaching clients have trouble getting people to come back for a report of findings. That is a big problem. A lack of engagement looks like this: you have a bunch of new peeps coming in. You are so psyched. You did a talk, screening, firewalk seminar, etc. You signed up 50 people to come in, and then:
- Many did not show up for the 1st appointment.
- 50% did not show up for the second appointment.
- The rest really liked you, and made a third appointment, but got busy, and so you called them, but they were busy, and they called back and left a message, and then you called them and they were on the other line, and they dropped out of reach.
Not being able to engage means you do not know how to get people to care about chiropractic, and you do not know how to help them to make, map out, and keep a commitment plan for their own betterment.
After the second year of our high-end mastermind, my husband, Steve and I had our annual retreat about our beloved baby, Community Chiropractic. I remember this meeting very well, because we decided to grade ourselves in the three categories of Attraction, Engagement and Retention. Because of the system I had created for a sustainable marketing plan, we, almost effortlessly, had plenty of new patients for our goals in practice. We got an A+ in that category. We gave ourselves a B+ in engagement. We had learned many tools in my high-end mastermind to help people to commit to care, and make that easy for them to choose. But, we were really disappointed with our retention at the time. We had a C-.
What we realized is that if our retention was low, then we were working SO MUCH HARDER than we needed to, and we were not making the impact that we KNEW we could. So we had to face a harsh reality that day that we were not helping people to the level that we desired, because we were falling short in this part of our business. Facing that harsh reality of where we were failing helped us so much. It HURT in that moment of realization (I talk with chiropractors regularly and they all say that I am a person they trust. They feel like they can look at the stuff that is hard. This IS SO important. You have to look at where you SUCK. You cannot improve unless you are willing to take that hit of, “Ugh. I messed up here.” You cannot DO something about the things you refuse to face). But now, just over one year after that meeting, we have more than doubled our retention. That is a win for our people, who will have a better quality of life with consistent care. And it is win for us because we can KNOW that: 1. we can always improve, and 2. we are making a better impact, and have even more ease in practice.
Today, I am typing in front of my computer overlooking the hundreds of tulips that we planted four years ago. The lilac trees that my boys have given me for the last five Mother’s Days are all blooming, and the sweet smell is wafting in as I write. When you plant the seeds for an amazing practice, you will reap a great harvest. It takes time, and assessing the right circumstances for the best growth. I am sending you wishes for:
- the sweet smell of your success in the garden of your own practice,
- the strength to face yourself and your practice in the mirror,
- the kindness of a person who will help you hold up the mirror, so you do not fall down over what you see,
- the ability to KNOW the potential that lies below the surface of your own garden,
- and the ability to help it bloom.