By: Frank A. Corbo, DC, CCRD, QME
What Happens When the Well Runs Dry?
Think about where our practices would be if there were no more new patients! Here’s another thought to ponder: What if we had only one chance to educate our patients on the benefits of the Chiropractic Lifestyle? Picture this: After our educational process they would choose either to pass or play on treatment—whether in our office or another office. Their choice after their one exposure to the way we educate would dictate whether they would be lifetime advocates of Chiropractic care, or lifetime neutral parties, or even opponents of Chiropractic. Thought provoking, isn’t it?
Think about what you would do differently. How would you change the way you educate patients about Chiropractic if indeed the “new patient well” was about to run dry, or if the choice for a patient to become a Chiropractic advocate rested upon only your shoulders? What would you change, if anything, about your initial consultation, examination, or Report of Findings? What would you and your staff do differently to let your patients know how much you cared? How would you continue the communication process throughout the days, weeks, months, and years of your patients’ care?
A Costly Mistake
Have you ever asked yourself why we need to do “reactivations?” This statement may answer that question: It is a fact that about 70% (69% to be exact) of our patients who quit doing business (stop care) do so because nobody (DC, CA, staff) at our office kept in touch, said they cared, or let that patient (our customer) know how important they were!
Dissecting the Problem
I found the statement you just read interesting, thought provoking, and to be honest—convicting. In fact, it impacted me so much I actually made a study of it:
- 70%. That answers the question of why we need an endless supply of new patients to keep our doors open.
- Quit doing business. No warning. They just stop coming in.
- Kept in touch. What do I do to keep in touch between visits? Monthly newsletters? Birthday cards? A handwritten note when someone refers a patient to our office?
- Said they cared. How do you say you care to your patients?
- Let that patient know. Remember that communication is the sharing of information! Don’t keep it a secret. Let them know by telling them you care!
- How important they were. It’s the last word that got me here. WERE. Past tense! It should be ARE.
Three Steps to Communicating that You Care
- Make it a policy. Make caring a policy? Seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Well, take an inside look at the most successful companies in the world and that’s what they do. Need proof? The next time you have an opportunity at a well-known large business, for example a Wal-Mart or McDonald’s, take a look behind their counter for policies on the wall showing the customers they care. You’ll notice them all over the place. “Make eye contact with your customer,” “Smile,” “Ask them how you may be of service,” “Say thank you!” Remember this—policies are emotional! It doesn’t matter whether you or any of your staff are having a good day or a bad day. The policy doesn’t change!
- Apply it! Make your “caring policy” a statistic and keep track of it.
- Never let them guess. Never let your patient guess whether they’re a name or a number! Remember this from that statement you read: Numbers leave, names stay!
Grading your Communication
Take a moment to evaluate the effectiveness of your communication. In each area of your practice, give yourself a grade. Be honest with yourself. After grading each area, list the “One Thing” application. For those of you who have never seen the movie “City Slickers” with Jack Palance and Billy Crystal, the “One Thing” policy is finding the one thing you can do to make a difference.
Area of Practice Grade One Thing Application
Front desk/telephone A B C D F __________________________
Paperwork A B C D F __________________________
Waiting room reading material A B C D F __________________________
Consultation A B C D F __________________________
Examination A B C D F __________________________
Report of Findings A B C D F __________________________
Information to take home A B C D F __________________________
Saying “I care” & “Thank you” A B C D F __________________________
Since launching Chiropractic Wellness and Fitness Magazine™, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet DCs from across the country and Canada. I’ve met doctors from large and small cities alike—young and old, new grads and seasoned veterans, the successful and the struggling. This is what I found out: The successful DCs (and you can define for yourself what “successful” means) were those who did the following three things:
1. They had policies for everything, and everyone in the office applied them! Policies were policies, and exceptions were rare. Unfortunately, our policy can become the exception, and the exception can become the policy. To check your policy-exception status, ask yourself this one question: How many payment “policies” do I have?
2. They marketed continuously, and even had a budget for marketing! They gave back to their patients, saying “thank you” in several ways—such as dinner gift certificates, T-shirts, magazine subscriptions, birthday cards, and “thank you” gifts and cards for referring patients to the office.
3. They communicated effectively. They were focused on One Thing: effectively communicating their purpose of changing lives through Chiropractic care.
What if the next time a new patient entered your office, you didn’t just see that individual, but instead saw everyone they knew (friends, family and coworkers)? If you can effectively communicate the wonders of Chiropractic (and combine it with appropriate care), there’s every reason to believe that you will soon have the opportunity and honor to treat them, too!
About the Author
Dr. Frank A. Corbo is a 1995 summa cum laude graduate of the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic. He is currently in private practice in Southern California, and is also the co-founder and senior editor of Chiropractic Wellness and Fitness Magazine™. Before starting his Chiropractic career, Dr. Corbo was employed by the Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company in Milan Italy, where he worked with a strategic marketing team developing effective strategies for marketing osteoporosis products.