A Chiropractor’s Staff Is Their Most Important Asset

By: Susan Hoy, CA

On a daily basis, I receive phone calls from Chiropractors and Chiropractic staff from all over the country. It is one of the best parts of my job! One of the questions I always ask is, “How’s business?” I am always amazed at the varying answers I get. Some are totally perplexed at their lack of business; in fact, I sometimes get depressed just listening to them. Then other Chiropractors or staff members from the exact same area may call and tell me that they are so busy, they need to add staff members, or they need to be more efficient at utilizing the staff members they have. In any case, their business is thriving—in the same geographical area that the other is failing.

It is obvious to see that there is no lack of patients; one office is simply doing a better job. In fact, my guess is that both offices do similar things. The Chiropractor whose business is failing often tells me that he (or she) is doing all the right things, but patients either don’t come back or just drop out of care. I often hear comments like, “I don’t have control of my patients. They control me!”

The obvious question is: what does one office have that the other does not have?

Recently, I had the experience of being a new patient in an OB-GYN office. I must admit, I tend to be somewhat critical of other offices. In our office, patients are treated like royalty, and I expect to be treated the same way when I go elsewhere. On this particular day, I made the first appointment of the day because I had to go to work afterward. I arrived at the office about 15 minutes ahead of my appointment time to ensure that I would be taken first (they do it to us, don’t they?). The door of the office was unlocked, but when I entered, most of the lights were still turned off. There was no movement or life anywhere. Finally, the doctor appeared at the front desk and said hello. I made the first move to introduce myself, and he, in turn, gave me forms to fill out. The room was so dimly lit, I had to return to my car to retrieve my glasses so I could see. By the time my appointment time came, a few other patients had filtered in, but there was still no sign of any staff members.

Finally, the staff arrived—BUT they all had to talk about their previous night’s activities, make coffee, and then have the coffee. No one acknowledged the patients at all. It seemed like an eternity before the staff got around to business. By this time, I was finding it difficult to be civil. A staff member called my name and led me into a small room. She never said hello, introduced herself, or gave me any indication that she was happy to see me. I could only assume that she wasn’t. When I finally saw the doctor, he actually apologized for his staff. Apparently, they had worked late the night before. His excuse did not elicit much sympathy from me. Not one person on his six-member staff introduced herself to me. And guess what? By the time I left, it really didn’t matter, because I knew I would never go back. This doctor came highly recommended, but I just didn’t like being in his office at all. I did not feel welcomed.

I often use an analogy of piecing a body together. I can take a head, two arms, a trunk and two legs, and I can put them all together to make them look like a body. But just because it looks like a body doesn’t mean it supports life; energy gives the body life. All those pieces have to work together to generate the magic of life. We, who work in a Chiropractic office, certainly know the importance of energy!

The same is true in your office. You may have staff members, but unless they are energized, your practice will not have life. You may be the best doctor in the world, but unless your practice has life, your practice will not flourish.

I have been observing both successful and unsuccessful practices, and not just Chiropractic offices. Since we have several doctors as patients, I have been observing them, too. The following are the results of my observations:

All of the doctors who have successful practices have great respect for their staff. In fact, several of the doctors I spoke with gave the staff credit for their success. Additionally, the staff also has great respect for their doctor. This would seem to support the old business adage, “Treat your employees well, and in turn, they will treat your customers well.” This is one of the key ingredients in success.

I recently read an article in the news about the owner of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher. His employees took a full-page ad in USA Today on Bosses’ Day, for which they paid $60,000. The ad read, “For remembering every one of our names. For supporting the Ronald McDonald House. For helping load baggage on Thanksgiving. For giving everyone a kiss, and we mean everyone. For listening. For running the only profitable major airline. For singing at our holiday party. For singing only once a year. For letting us wear shorts and sneakers to work. For golfing at the LUV Classic with only one club. For out-talking Sam Donaldson. For riding your Harley Davidson into Southwest Headquarters. For being a friend, not just a boss.”

The following is Herb Kelleher’s philosophy, as outlined in the book, Nuts!, by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg:

Employees are No. 1. The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers. Think small to grow big. Manage in the good times for the bad times. Irreverence is OK. It’s OK to be yourself. Have fun at work. Take the competition seriously, but not yourself. It’s difficult to change someone’s attitude, so hire for attitude and train for skill. Think of the company as a service organization that happens to be in the airline business. Do whatever it takes. Always practice the Golden Rule, internally and externally.

I think we would all be well served if we adopted Mr. Kelleher’s business philosophy.

Finally, I have been asking for inspirational quotes about our profession, and I received the following quote from Stephanie M. H. Specht in Dr. Thomas Schreder’s office in Lancaster, PA. I believe it captures the essence of what I have been writing about:

Subject: The Makings of a Great Chiropractic Assistant

“It takes a great Chiropractor. He is my friend and my coach. He is tolerant of my mistakes, he is caring of my health and well being, and that is why I have been working for my doctor for five years.

“It takes the love for all people, and no matter what, concern for their health and well being.

“It takes biting your tongue when you know you are right, and standing your ground when dealing with insurance companies.

“It takes realizing that you are the first person a patient sees when they come in the office. If a patient comes into the office and had to deal with a crab first thing, why would they want to come back, regardless of how good the doctor is?

“I treat each patient like they are a friend, and remember each day that I am here because of them.”

The following are some suggestions on achieving success that you deserve:

Vision: There is nothing more effective than visualization. The brain cannot tell the difference between reality and vivid visualization. So visualize the success that you deserve. Do you really want success? Then make sure every member of your staff understands and shares your vision.

Mission Statement: Know the outcome you desire and devise a mission statement accordingly. Write it down, frame it, put it up where patients and staff can see it. Read it before every staff meeting.

Purpose: Every staff member must know their individual purpose to the mission of the practice. Possibly bringing in more new patients, more daily patient visits, educating patients, collecting the aging accounts receivable, lowering expenses, or professionalizing the practice image.

Question: Ask empowering questions! Rather than, “Why can’t we attract more patients?”, ask, “How can we attract more patients?”

Goals: Goal setting is imperative for success. Write them down, look at them often, make them attainable so you feel the power of success. Have short-term and long-term goals. DO IT…IT WORKS!

Action: Every goal must be accompanied by an action step. When you set a goal, take at least one action step right away.

Respect: Respect your patients, your fellow staff members, and the universal laws that will bring success to your office because you have the correct motives and you deserve success.

B.E.E.F. IT UP! Believe in what your are doing. Be Enthusiastic about your purpose. Educate your staff and your patients. Focus on the results that you want.

Success will be yours because the universe will provide, and you will be making a difference in countless lives! In the words of Mother Theresa, “We can not do great things, we can only do small things with great love.”