By: Frank A. Corbo, DC and Donald K. Kase
Does your practice feel a bit ‘drafty’ in the wintertime? Do your stats seem to drop each year, making it seem like you’re trying to kick start a cold engine? If your clinic takes this seasonal dip along with the temperature, or if you would simply like to increase your practice this winter, here are five steps you can take that will help your office avoid the big chill from visiting this year.
Over the last few years, we’ve had the privilege of sitting in on dozens of practice management seminars and speaking with some of the most successful DCs in the country. What was very clear to us is that there are several common threads woven into these successful practitioners’ offices. The underlying principles yielding such success are that each reinforces educating your patients on the Chiropractic paradigm of health.
5 Steps for Success
1. Each clinic utilized a ‘Welcome to Our Office’ packet for their new patients
2. Spinal workshops were mandatory
3. Powerful and strategic Networks of Referral were established
4. Screening events were regularly scheduled
5. Give back to the community
‘Welcome to Our Office’ Packet
Remember, first impressions last. Taking the time to provide a prepared ‘Welcome to Our Office’ packet is essential. Your welcome packet is what the patient will take home on the first visit, and often times is what the patient will use to describe your office to his or her spouse, friend, or loved one. If somebody other than the patient is financially responsible for the care you provide, then that person’s description of your office can be the difference between a new patient and a patient that received an exam only in your office.
Effective ‘Welcome to Our Office’ packets include: a signed letter—by you—on professionally printed office letterhead (for an example of a powerful letter please see www.cwfmonline.com, go to special doctor’s section, and look up welcome to the office letter); a gift certificate for a family member, friend, or co-worker to visit your office; and a customized magnet (patients will post their treatment plans on their refrigerators with this!).
The effectiveness of spinal workshops cannot be overemphasized. The basic premise is that this workshop is mandatory for all new patients. The most successful practices are those which have these workshops twice per month. The purpose of this workshop is to emphasize the Chiropractic model of health and wellness.
A very powerful tool here is to have a current patient give a brief before and after care ‘testimony’ of his or her experience in your office. This can be the most important part of your workshop! Remember to reward your patient giving the testimony!
Strategic Network of Referrals
The key to developing a powerful network of referrals is building strong relationships. Successful clinics understand this principle and invest both time and resources to cultivate these potentially large referral sources. Here are some tips:
1. Track. Support. Reward! Win-Win relationships are the key here. Be certain to track the results from each source, support each business (purchase for example gift certificates from the source and use as gifts for your patients or other referral sources), and finally reward them by sponsoring their company or business.
2. Provide key tools for referral source to refer to your office. Be sure to provide each source with a ‘referral kit’ for your office. A cover letter and gift certificate works very well. Provide each source with 10 or more referral kits.
3. Give, Give, Give.
4. Give some more! Clear enough?
Marketing Strategies to Defrost the Wintertime Practice Blues
1. Get on purpose. I know it can be hard to see the forest for the trees at times. With all the managed care paperwork, office crises, etc., it can be rough. However, if your purpose for being a healer is starting to dull, find someone you trust in the profession who has a strong purpose and ask them how they got there. It can be the single most important thing you do this winter to strengthen your practice.
Success Strategy Key: Don’t let another day go by without getting back on purpose!
2. Be willing to change. Some of the tips that follow may take you out of your comfort zone, so take a deep breath, and face those fears. If you fail at a certain strategy, see it as an ‘experiment,’ not a failure. Soon you’ll begin to understand your uniqueness, as you will become energized by a particular strategy, and it will be clear to you that this is a key for you.
Success Strategy Key: Your practice will experience tremendous growth if you only take that first step. Finding a public speaking coach may be the key to this success strategy.
3. Get involved in your community. Most successful DCs will tell you that exponential growth occurs when you step out of your office and get involved in the community. It can be simply sponsoring a local sports team. Open your local yellow pages and you’ll find dozens of potential strategic referral sources that can forever change the level of your practice. Look for clubs such as hockey, gymnastics, bowling, and racquetball to name a few. These wintertime clubs are just waiting for a doctor like you to offer your expertise!
Ask if you can sponsor their club or team. Wait until after they pick their jaw off the floor to tell them that you would be honored to support their club. Your sponsorship can be a most valuable and cost-effective tool, gaining you access to the members of the club. Combine this with the benefit of the care you will provide and your office will never be the same!
Success Strategy Key: Sponsoring a team will pay huge dividends in your office!
4. Start doing lay lectures, both inside and outside your office. This strategy cannot be stressed enough. Remember, people are dying outside your office without you. There are literally hundreds of opportunities to give lay lectures for your community. Here are just a few;
● Carpal tunnel workshops at your local hair and nail salon
● Arthritis/osteoporosis workshops emphasizing increasing activity at retirement
● ADD/ADHD workshops for day care centers
5. Set a monthly strategy for acquiring new patients. Be sure to track the productivity of each referral source. The key to unleashing huge success is taking care of your referring source. Ask yourself this question, “When was the last time I gave a top referring source a gift?” Startling isn’t it?
Tuesday: Chiropractic workshop. This is your opportunity to express the Chiropractic paradigm of health. Again, be sure to have the before-and-after patient testimony.
Friday: Referral day. Every staff member focuses on this key question, “Who do you know who lives locally and has a healthcare concern that they would like to get rid of?”
Monday: Research day. Next to your sign-in sheet place a stack of copies of pro-Chiropractic studies pertaining to a particular condition (for example, carpal tunnel syndrome) or one that emphasizes the effects of drugs (for example, the relationship between cox-2 inhibitors and heart attacks, etc.). Make it a point to discuss this topic with every patient, asking if they know someone having this condition who may benefit from care in your office.
Tuesday: Chiropractic workshop.
Thursday: Lay lecture series. Create and implement the habit of asking your patients if they know any companies that would like a speaker to discuss topics, such as: alternatives to drugs for ADD/ADHD; back pack safety; a healthcare topic which you are passionate about; etc. Make a list of your patients’ places of employment, the HR director, and systematically put them on your calendar.
Saturday: Screening event. If you forget to do anything else, for your benefit and the potential patients out there needing your care, please implement this key foundational building block at your office. Getting involved in community clubs as listed above becomes quite easy when you provide a screening benefit for the entire club. Focusing on a topic, such as foot and ankle conditions, and screening for them is a proven method for acquiring many new patients. Foot Levelers’ 3D BodyView® imaging system foot scanner and posture analysis system provides you with an extremely powerful tool that you can use for this purpose.
Try this: Introduce yourself to your local golf pro. Take the BodyView with you. Explain the benefit of screening the foot; in fact, scan his or her feet. Discuss briefly the benefits of Foot Levelers’ ParFlex Plus® orthotics, and how they have been proven to add 10–15 yards to a golfer’s drive. Believe me, he or she will be happy to set up a date for you to screen every member of the club. The impact it makes on the profession is extremely powerful.
Replace the golf course location with a local bowling alley, gymnastic school, racquetball club, carpet companies, Athlete’s foot or other sneaker outlet, etc. Applying this principle will explode your new patient flow.
Implementing a few of these proven and effective strategies will make this winter quite a bit cozier!
● Canfield J, Hansen MV, Hewitt L. The Power of Focus. Health Communications, Inc., 2000.
● Warren, R. The Purpose Driven Life. Zondervan, 2002.
About the Authors
Dr. Frank A Corbo and Donald K. Kase are the co-founders of Chiropractic Wellness and Fitness Magazine, now celebrating over one million readers. They can be reached at the magazine’s website: cwfmonline.com.