By: Dennis Perman, DC
Too often, doctors call me to complain about how “everybody leaves town this time of year” or “the tourists only come to the area during the busy season.” This denies the basic truth that all substantial practitioners know and accept – that even when the conditions aren’t ideal, there are always opportunities to grow. The smart Chiropractic entrepreneur learns to anticipate seasonal trends, powering out with effective promotions during high season and augmenting the slower times with creative and relevant marketing ideas that spruce up the practice until the environment is once again more favorable.
Check Your Attitude
Is the glass half empty or half full? Even in resort areas that have small populations year round, there are usually enough individuals in striking distance to keep the practice moving ahead. Check and refine your attitude and your expectation. If you think there aren’t any good candidates around, then you’ll put out an energy that proves you right and keeps people away, while if you anticipate a good flow of people, it actually increases the probability of attracting them. While this may seem flaky or esoteric, it is entirely consistent with quantum physics and the law of attraction – your intention does indeed count for something.
Design a Marketing Calendar
Once you adjust the vibration and energy, you’ll still need to take actions that support your outcome, and here are some ideas. First, decide how many new patients you’d like to attract this month. Next, get a reality check – what new patient-generating activities do you already have planned, and how many new patients would you reasonably expect to attract from each of your activities? Estimate your projected return, and see if you have enough activities planned; the most common mistake is not planning to invest enough new patient effort. If you don’t have enough new patient-generating activities planned – well, plan more!
Design these ‘marketing calendars’ several months in advance, keeping track of the return on each new patient-generating activity. Then, from month to month, observe which techniques seem to work best, and construct your ‘new patient machine’ out of the methods that produce for you, to streamline your marketing and conserve valuable resources.
Build a New Patient Machine
Typically, there will be a few or several techniques you use that work consistently for you – asking for referral, healthcare class, outside lectures, screenings, networking with professionals or local merchants, advertising, patient appreciation dinners. Design a series of new patient-generating activities that you are willing to implement each month, and choose activities that will work in your current environment, whatever that may be.
If the tourists aren’t in town right now, then run a promotion for anyone who can prove they live in your ZIP Code, as a special for neighborhood people. If many people have left town on vacation, then sponsor a special ‘vacation day’ right there in your town for the people who couldn’t get away, where everyone in your office dresses casual or even tropical, to make people smile, and also to create some attraction with your fresh and uplifting attitude.
Be creative – think about what would draw people into your sphere of influence. Remember, even if thousands of people are away, it’s likely that thousands remain; which group you concentrate on will determine your energy of attraction, not to mention your overall attitude. Tap into the local market by appealing to their values, and showing them how your service meets needs they believe are important.
It’s a Winnable Game
Are you starting to see a theme here? Knowing your outcome, creating energy, setting goals and making plans, and going forward with a great attitude – this formula will transcend seasons, snowbird biorhythms, and any other myths you may have bought into when your practice volume dipped and your mind groped for an explanation. If you needed ten thousand new patients a month, then these trends would affect you – but since you only need a handful of new patients each week to build your practice, it stands to reason that with the right mindset and action plan, attracting the right number of the right kind of new patients is a winnable game.
One last idea for maximizing your off-peak months – if your patients are going away on vacation, find out where they’re going and develop a referral relationship with a DC in that area, so your patient’s care is continued properly—even if you cannot deliver the services yourself. Your colleagues in the vacation areas will then reciprocate and refer vacationers they see who are returning to your area, creating a nice inter-referral network. Imagine if you were to develop relationships with several or many doctors in other locations, for the better service of the patients and the improvement of both of your practices!
If you are in a resort area, create a card catalog to refer your visiting patients to someone who can care for them properly at home during the rest of the year, and refer them right back to you when they return to their favorite vacation spot. If you’re in an area that patients tend to leave for vacation, collect names of doctors in frequent vacation spots for exchanging referrals. Can you see how a little creativity and thinking outside the nine dots can result in new patients you didn’t realize were there? Instead of complaining, learn to capitalize on the seasonal trends, wherever and whenever you can, and you’ll be delighted with the results.
About the Author
Dr. Perman is the co-founder, with Dr. Larry Markson and Dr. Bob Hoffman, of the personal and professional development company The Masters Circle. This organization is dedicated to helping Chiropractors find success and fulfillment through practice mastery and personal growth, through seminars, coaching, teleclasses, and audio-visual support materials. Dr. Perman can be reached at The Masters Circle website at www.themasterscircle.com.