Growing a business, any business, including a chiropractic practice, is really quite simple if you follow 4 basic steps.
- Find out who your patient really is .
- Find out what they really want.
- Give it to them better and/or less expensively than anyone else.
- Spend less money than you bring in.
These are the only business principles you need to know and apply.
But it must be easier said than done since very few businesses, including most likely yours, apply these basic common sense business-building practices.
Or maybe they are easy to do but we, for whatever reason, choose to ignore them.
First, who is your patient? Where do they live? How old are they? Where do they work? What do they do? What is unique about them? Is it really everyone within a five-mile radius with a spine or maybe it’s a subgroup of the entire community?
Why is it important to know? The more you know about who you are trying to reach out to, the more effective you will be in your attempts.
A letter written to a child will not be the same letter written to a senior citizen or, at least we hope not.
Look at your present and past patient base. What do they have in common?
Find out what your patients and prospective patients really want.
How? Simply by asking.
Stop for a moment and think of all the personal and business related places you have either visited or spent money with over the last 5, 10, 20 years. From the local dry cleaners to your auto dealer to your accountant and everyone in between.
I am sure you could list easily 100 to 200 businesses you have spent money with since you started spending money.
How many of them have ever asked you what you wanted? What could they do to make your life easier?
Having a hard time even thinking of one business. Don’t worry about it.
That’s the very reason most successful small businesses are successful despite themselves, not because of their efforts. Being in the right place at the right time.
What do you really know? Simply ask: “Mrs. Smith, if you had a magic wand and could change three things about my chiropractic practice or my people what would you wish for?”
The answers you get will be more valuable than any $10,000 market research study you could commission.
Are they afraid about physical harm? Or that the services will cost too much? Or that they will have to visit you forever? How about your ex-patients? Why did they stop coming? If you never ask you may never know the real reasons.
You can be gathering the information formally with telephone surveys to present and past patients or informally with everyone who visits your office.
Don’t forget prospective patients in the community as well. Over 90% of your community has never visited a chiropractor. Talk about an untapped pot of gold. But the most effective way to tap into it is to first find out why they have never considered visiting with a chiropractor. Only then will you be able to effectively ‘talk’ to them.
And whether you’ve been in practice 6 months, 6 years or 6 decades, please don’t assume you know the answers to the ‘magic wand’ questions.
Try it and then learn to listen. You are about to gather the most valuable information you need to successfully grow your practice. So have both ears wide open, mouth shut please, pen and paper in hand.
Now what happens.
Well, that depends on what you find out. Suppose you find out that most patients stop coming because of long waiting room waiting times, poor reading materials, unfriendly office staff, no parking or one or a few of an endless possible list.
You have two choices.
Make the changes, in your hours, in your location, in your staff, in your fees or whatever else you find out, and reap the rewards of ex-patients coming back and present ones not leaving tomorrow or ignore the answers you get and continue down the path you are presently headed.
The choice is yours.
If many people want Sunday hours, you can open Sundays and enjoy the growth or at least know why your top line is not what you would like it to be.
And last but not least, always spend less than you bring in. A lot less is preferred. Obvious advice but not always followed.
When you went to school you took very few courses in common sense (ask people what they want) or accounting 101 for small professional practices.
It’s not too late to master both.
Why not ask your spouse, your employees, your friends, your business associates, your consultants, your mentors, your bankers what they think?
You can if you want to be socially diplomatic. But if it’s your practice you want to grow, then the only opinion that matters and it’s not yours, mine or anyone listed above, it’s that of the person who is actually going to be paying the bill … your patient, your ex-patient and your prospective patient.
Ask and you shall receive valuable information to help you grow to wherever and whatever in life you want to be.