Here’s a list of 14 ways to improve your conversions with a new patient. The purpose of this article is to give you a quick checklist of items you can run through for your office.
The first time through, see which ones you are already doing in your office. Then start implementing one or two new ones at a time until you have them all in place.
A conversion simply means that a new patient has agreed to your plan of care, whatever that plan is for your office. (If you don’t put together any type of care plan for your office, go and do that right now!)
Ok, so let’s get started…
1. Use Marketing That Brings In Quality New Patients
For this one, we’re going back to the source — where you get the new patient. If you’re giving away free exams to anyone you meet at the mall, you’re going to have a pretty crappy conversion rate. Examples of quality marketing involves condition specific chiropractic ads, internet marketing, referrals, doctor referrals, etc. These people are often times very pre-qualified and will be eager to begin care so they can feel better.
2. Have a Nice Reception Area
The first thing a patient sees when they walk in is the waiting room/reception area. How clean and nice does yours look? Cheap poster frames, toys laying everywhere, stains on the carpet, unpleasant music, and bad smells can all contribute to the new patient second guessing their decision to come in for an appointment. Make it nice. Spend a little money to ‘spruce it up’ a bit.
3. Great Front Desk CA
The new patient should be greeted right away, made to feel at home and be told what to do next. They are worried about what’s going on and what they might have to pay. Your front desk CA should make them feel very comfortable and reassure them that they’re in the right place. This is HUGE! Whatever you do, do not allow your staff to ignore a new patient who walks in.
4. Don’t Overwhelm with Paperwork
Have you gone through your paperwork lately and condensed it to what is absolutely necessary. You only need paperwork that you are going to use or that is required to protect you and your office legally. Don’t pile up pages and pages of questions that you’re not even going to look at or use during the patient’s care.
5. Do A Good Consultation
Make sure your consultation comes off caring and considerate. Listen, really listen, to the patient’s concerns and ask them questions that guide them along. This should take an average of 7-10 minutes. Keep the consultation focused on the patient and not the weather, their friends, or other time wasters. Also, don’t make a bad impression by telling the patient the “rules” of how your office works, that they’ll have to come back for life, or anything overwhelming like that.
6. Perform An Exam With A Purpose
Everything in your exam should be geared toward giving you good information, teaching the patient, or protecting yourself from legal matters. In 99.9% of cases, there is no need to do the 3 hour exam we learned in school. You should also express to the patient the concern you have with problems you’re finding.
7. Measure A Finding (X-ray, etc)
You need to have some objective findings to cover with the patient and base your care on. (I recommend taking an x-ray or set of films for multiple reasons.) If you don’t have an x-ray make sure you are doing some objective test that the patient can see. This is going to be very important in your report of findings.
8. End Day 1 Correctly
I recommend not doing care the first day, except under certain circumstances. Tell the patient what to expect on their next visit and to see your front desk CA on the way out. There are a lot of opinions on this, pretty strongly on the side of not adjusting on Day 1, but I find they aren’t based on any hard evidence. The argument is that patients won’t come back if they get “fixed” on day one. (You could also argue argue a patient won’t come back because they didn’t get adjusted on day one.) I measured it in my practice for years, doing care on some patients on Day 1 and not for others on a case by case basis. My findings? It didn’t matter that much. Many patients who got adjusted on day 1 stayed with me for years and paid thousands in care. It’s really depends on the patient’s mindset when they walk in more than anything. Test it yourself and measure it. Too many people say adjusting on day 1 doesn’t work, but I think they base this on emotion and not actual numbers.
9. Collect Information and Schedule
Your front desk CA should now collect the payment for today’s visit, ask for insurance information (if you take insurance) and schedule for the next visit. These 3 things should be done a specific way. You could do everything right up until this point, but if the patient leaves with a bad taste in their mouth from the checkout, they may not come back.
10. Do A Proper Greeting On The Next Visit
Have your staff welcome the patient back as if they are someone who’s been coming in for a long time. Make the patient feel like part of the practice.
11. Give A Short, No-Fluff Report
Again, this one is somewhat controversial in chiropractic. Some chiropractic coaches will tell you to give a long winded speech here to hard sell the patient on care. It’s not necessary if you did what you should have on Day 1. A report should not take longer than 10 minutes. Tell them what you found. Tell them if you can fix it and a BRIEF summary of how you’ll do that. Layout their care plan and explain why it takes time. Go over the cost (this is best if your staff does the financial part). If insurance is involved, have that prepared and covered by your staff at this time.
12. Get Paid For What You Do
Have a simple, easy to follow payment plan for your patients. At least 2 options of payment, 3 at most. Remember, very simple. I have seen so many complex systems that almost force the patient to “go home and think about it.” For me, this means prepay with bookkeeping discount, CareCredit, or weekly payments.
13. Adjust the Patient
This is where you get to adjust and perform your other services with the patient. Whatever you do with them, remember they may be a little timid and unsure of what’s going on. Consider the patient’s level of comfort with what’s going on and be considerate. I’ve seen too many chiropractors scare people off with performing a rough first adjustment. The doctor never knows that was the reason the patient didn’t come back, but I can assure you it has happened in many an office.
14. Schedule Future Visits
It’s best if you can get your patient’s care plan scheduled out for the term it runs. Sometimes this is called a MAP, after the Parker Seminars famous “Multi-Appointment Plan”. It’s best to do this on paper first, hand a copy to the patient. Your staff can put it in the computer system later.