By: Dr. Larry Markson
If you are ready—really ready—I am prepared to give you the very best practice building advice that I have ever had the opportunity to present. The problem is that this advice is not new, and it’s so simple that it promises to be overlooked by the great multitude of today’s practitioners who are still searching for a “quick-fix tip” to all practice ills or for another “give it away free” method or gimmick to attract new patients.
Pragmatically speaking, gimmicks of any kind never work! After 20 years as a coach to the world’s greatest Chiropractors, I have never seen a “give it away free” scheme build a practice to a successful level in the long run. History has proven you just need to give more and more away and you produce a less caring, less participatory patient. They are coming for the prize, not for you or the healthcare you provide, hence they “cannot stay.” Further, they “don’t want to pay” and “will not refer.” It’s seduction vs. attraction. It’s what doctors without a purpose or plan resort to when things are down.
I recognize that some of you feel the need to do “anything” to get a new patient. For those of you who do, I want you to know it’s self-destructive.
Here is an example! Years ago the cereal companies gave away prizes in their cereal boxes. Children would scream at their mothers that they wanted the “whistle” inside a particular cereal box and buy a box of that cereal.
Well, after a while, the mothers would just say no, so the cereal makers increased the size and glamour of the prize. After a while, of course, the mothers rebelled because the kids didn’t eat or even want the cereal, they just wanted the “give-away.” And, it went on and on with the manufacturers alienating the purchasers, the mothers. The result was a steady and serious decline in business.
Then one day, some bright marketing person said, “let’s not sell gimmicks anymore, it doesn’t work. Let’s sell value! Let’s emphasize the good. Let’s talk about how healthy the cereal is, how many vitamins it contains and how good it is for your child, especially at the start of each day.” The results are in, and the winner is Value! They are selling more cereal than ever before at the highest prices in history because people want it.
This is, I submit, an appropriate analogy to the present state of Chiropractic marketing. Yes, you heard it here first folks, ‘gimmicks don’t work,’ except, of course, for the premium manufacturer.
Instead, let us begin to teach you what appears to be the harder way, but what is most certainly the best way to build a practice: by “V.A.S.” (Value Added Service). Value Added Service is when you create a “service aura,” whose value perception, by reputation and actual delivery, makes that patient more than willing to pay for a particular service.
V.A.S. is when you run out of milk for the coffee on Saturday evening at 11:30 PM during your house party. You then scurry over to a convenience store and are willing to pay 50% more than regular price. The milk just had more “value” to you at that time, so you were willing to pay more.
This applies to patients as well. Initially, when in severe pain, the patient is willing to pay almost anything. However, if not educated properly from the very beginning, the perceived value diminishes and when the pain goes away, the patient goes away. No more “value,” no more willingness to pay, no more patient.
Instead—and here’s the BEST practice building advice you’ve ever received—you must decide that Chiropractic needs to remain a separate and distinct healing art and that we must gain acceptance for what we do, on our own terms. Let’s all get back to a place where we can begin to practice and market Chiropractic “inside or outside” of the system.
Let’s begin by not writing or endorsing any document that limits our scope of practice and relegates us to neck and low back technicians, where uninvolved third parties will determine in advance, and without ever having seen our patient, exactly how many visits they would allow, not to mention where they determine the timeframe in which they think the human body should respond, as if all similarly named conditions are exactly alike, and, as if all patients respond on cue.
Let’s instead, take the high road and not buckle from fear, or the need to be accepted. Yet, we are still using “their” CPT-EM codes, “their” ICDA codes, we work in “their” hospitals, we’re begging to get into “their” HMO’s and PPO’s, and we are now even welcome in “their” country clubs, but so what? What has all this actually done for us? Have we really arrived? I don’t think so, especially based on the fear and panic I see from Chiropractors across this nation.
The only acceptance you should want is from the patient who comes to you for Chiropractic care and who will gladly pay “a fair and equitable fee” for a valuable, natural health service.
They will… IF WE EDUCATE THEM to the real value of Chiropractic. Here’s the advice for those who want to not only survive, but thrive in the future.
Become a Chiropractor who really knows the devastating effects of the vertebral subluxation and inherent value of locating and removing those subluxations. Start right now to educate your patients to that value every day, on each and every visit.
I promise you they will learn, they will comply with your recommendations, they will respond to care and know why they did, they will refer because they know why and how to do so. And on you go to a prosperous, satisfying, prideful and successful career, the one you’ve always dreamed about. I promise.