By: Larry Markson, DC
“You will walk away with a bucket full of new patients!”
The number one question Chiropractors ask me is, “Larry, how do I get more new patients?” I quickly answer that a ‘Patient Appreciation Dinner’ (PAD), is the simplest, fastest, and most effective new patient acquisition action step that I know. If done correctly, a PAD is almost guaranteed to produce 20+ new patients in one shot!
You’ll need to have the right attitude, fill the room with current patients and their invited guests, and give a lighthearted, charismatic, and dynamite after-dinner presentation. If you do it right, you will get an immediate and appreciable influx of ‘ideal’ new patients!
As an extra bonus, the number of new patients you get following the event is dramatically increased when you extend an offer to those in attendance to make appointments for their families, as well as their friends. Patient Appreciation Dinners are a true Win – Win – Win situation!
Basic PAD Action Steps
1. Decide on the date and reserve the restaurant. We recommend holding the PAD on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evening, if possible.
2. Select a restaurant with a private room. The restaurant must have a room that is private and conducive to having a speaker, as well as the dinner itself. Appearance, service, and quality are important to the overall impression and subsequent reputation of your practice.
3. Enroll your staff. It is essential that each member of your staff understands what you are doing and why, and that they are thoroughly and excitedly enrolled in the entire process. They will play an integral part in the dinner’s success.
4. Fill the room. The single most important key to making the PAD successful is to fill the room with your patients and their guests. If you fill the room you booked, the results will take care of themselves.
5. Invite your best patients. The most effective invitations are the personal ones that come directly from the doctor while patients are in the office for their regular adjustment. Make sure they understand that the ‘price of admission’ is that they promise to bring along an adult (spouse, relative, co-worker, friend, etc.) who is not currently under Chiropractic care.
6. Additional attendees. Invite the family of your staff and the people who service your practice (insurance agent, accountant, etc.) but are not patients. Your goal should be a minimum of 50-60 people, 30 regular patients and 30 guests, but any sizeable number will do.
7. Optional action steps. You could send out printed invitations, put up a sign in the reception room, place an ad in your local newspaper, and tell your local store owners. If you are enthusiastic enough, however, the personal invitation is all you really need.
8. Confirmation is vital. One week before the PAD, telephone your patients to confirm their and their guest’s attendance and to renew their enthusiasm. If for any reason someone cannot attend, ask them to call you immediately because there is a waiting list and someone else could easily fill the vacant spot.
9. Prepare name badges for all in attendance. Purchase identification name badges in two different colors. One color is for your existing patients and the other is for guests. Neatly print the participants’ names with a bold magic marker or with the aid of your computer.
10. The evening of the PAD. Arrive early to make sure that everything is set up to your liking. Bring your appointment book and business or appointment cards. Ask each member of your team to sit at a different table and act as a host/hostess.
The doctor should greet all the patients and guests as they arrive. Then, after making sure they register, receive their badges, and the guests have given you their contact information, have a CA escort them to a table.
11. The dinner talk. It is critical to realize that this is not a healthcare class, it’s more of a light and informal dinner talk—no longer than 30–35 minutes. You need no props, no slides, charts, movies or plastic spines, just you or your guest speaker. Inject humor into the presentation and interact directly with both patients and their guests.
The body of the presentation should be a description of the Chiropractic premise and how we differ in thinking and approach to the established thinking of the medical community. Do not knock medical doctors: just pure, straightforward and simple Chiropractic!
In closing, invite your patients’ guests to set up appointments for thorough consultations and full Chiropractic examinations. Close with confidence, realizing that you will be handing patients an opportunity that could change their health and that of their family and friends, and you will walk away with a bucket full of new patients.
12. The sign up. Now—the crucial sign-up procedure. The doctor and staff must be totally focused, scripted, and excited. Give the participants a few moments to start eating and them go from person to person thanking them for coming.
Ask each guest (identified by badge), “Which day would be most convenient for you to receive your Chiropractic examination?” Never ask a yes or no question, because you are dead in the water if they say no. Another good choice can be, “Is Tuesday or Friday better for you to get your examination?”
13. Follow ups
Send a thank you note to everyone who attended. Tell them you enjoyed being their host and are happy that they now know more about Chiropractic than they did before. Lastly, personally call and check in with the good leads that didn’t convert.
The end result of your diligent effort is 50–80% of the guests should sign up on the spot and the ‘plus’ part is that at least 6 more (people who weren’t in attendance) should make appointments in the following days.
Patient Appreciation Dinners are a marvelous way to change the entire energy and character of your practice. With experience and the ensuing confidence that comes from great preparation and practice, your results will only get better and better.
About the Author
Dr. Larry Markson is internationally acclaimed as an educator, lecturer and author on the philosophy and practical applications of superior Chiropractic management. He is co-founder (with Dr. Dennis Perman and Dr. Bob Hoffman) of a Club for Chiropractors called The Masters Circle. Their Masters Velocity Program (MVP) features Identity-Based™ Seminars and Custom-Tailored Coaching™ for DCs serious about personal and professional achievement. For more information, log on to www.themasterscircle.com.