What Are Your Goals for 2010

What are your business goals for 2010? You are going to write down some goals, right?

I recommend you spend a couple of hours over the next few days giving thought to your goals. Once you’ve determined very specific goals, write or type them out on a sheet of paper.

Do not just write down the number of visits you want to see each week. Too many chiropractors are still hung up on the “I want to see 300 a week. I want to see 500 a week.” (If you’re still in this mindset, you must read my previous post The High Volume Lie, which had quite a few comments.)

Here are the goals I would recommend you have, in order of significance…

1. Gross income and net income.

Contrary to what some politicians believe, paying taxes and hiring employees isn’t your main purpose in business. Profit is the reason you started a business in the first place. If you just wanted to just adjust patients, you could work for someone else. You opened your own practice to make a good income and life for yourself and your family. Reaching this goal will determine who well you accomplish the next 4 goals.

#2. Number of New Patients Per Month

You might be wondering why this isn’t #1? Simple really. If you aren’t taking home an income to feed your family, it doesn’t matter how many new patients you have. Back in my “dumb days”, I had plenty of new patients, but gave away so much care my family struggled to make it. (Read about my dumb days inside the Ultimate Chiropractic Ads site.) To find out how to increase your new patients monthly, look at my last couple of blog posts, where I make some predictions of what’s going to happen in 2010.

#3. Average Dollars Collected Per Visit

This is one many chiropractors neglect. It doesn’t matter if you see 300 a week if you’re average collection per visit is only $10. This number is really telling about your practice. It will give you an overall picture of how well your doing with adding additional services plus how well your staff is doing with collections. To figure the REAL number for last year, divide total collections by the number of patient visits. (To figure the FAKE number in case the real number scares you, look at your “recommended care plan sheets” and divide the cost by the recommended visits.)

#4. Case Value Average

This is the average value each new patient case will generate in your office. (Figured by dividing your total monthly or yearly collections by the number of new patients you saw in that period.) The higher this is, the more likely you are getting paid for what you do and giving the patient quality care. Above $2000 is good, below $1000 means you’re going to be in trouble if you hit a slow month of new patients. Hint: You don’t raise this number by recommending care the patient doesn’t need, but by adding additional products to your practice that the patient does need or want. Examples: massage, rehab, decompression, and supplements.

#5. Number of Visits Per Month

Here we finally get to many chiropractor’s favorite question, “How many you seeing a week doc?” Weekly is okay, but I think setting goals for the month is better. Weeks can go up and down depending on holidays, vacations, etc. This number is important, but not nearly as important as the above 4.

These are the five must-have goals. You can have others of course, and should.

I recommend using The One Page Business Plan by Jim Horan for getting it easily mapped out.

I got this book last year and it is by far the best book on business plans. Don’t think you only need a business plan when you start up a new practice. This book helps you lay out a real vision, mission, and attainable goals.

It’s a step-by-step easy to follow workbook and CD-Rom. (After being completely misled by an early chiropractic coach about the terms “vision” and “mission”, this book helped to finally clear this up.)

The good news is that it helps you produce a concise business plan (hence the name of the book) which you can refer back to easily. I printed it out and kept it on or by my desk all year.

Then, throughout the year as you consider new strategies for your practice, you can ask yourself, “Does this new addition to my practice fit my vision and my mission?” or “Will this new marketing tool help me reach my objectives?”

By doing this, it will help you to stay on track. You’ll be able to look at it quickly and get a reference point for where you are headed.

In addition to having my business goals on the One Page Business Plan, I have an additional paper where I write my personal goals. This includes family vacations I plan to take, the number of books I plan to read, spiritual goals, marital goals, etc.

Get started now with your goals. By next week you’ll want to hit the ground running with accomplishing those goals.

5 Predictions for 2010, Part 2

As we finish out 2009, I want to look forward at some possible trends in 2010. Today’s post looks at the last 2 predictions (out of 5 total) I see for next year. To view part 1, click here.

#4. Better Internet Marketing For New Patients

While chiropractors have been using websites for over a decade now, I predict an increase use of the internet to get new patients. This reasons for this are many — increasing use of the internet in general, rising popularity of Facebook and Twitter, Google’s affinity for blogs, and more.

In 2010, it’s likely that the majority of chiropractors will realize that internet marketing is about effectiveness, not the flashy graphics and “pretty websites”. Even in 2009 I noticed many of the website developers were removing their ‘rotating spine’ charts and adding more content instead.

Content really is king with search engines like Google. I have found that we are able to get professional websites with direct response copy up quickly using blog software. Then we ad a few blog posts written from the doctor-to-patient view point, and within days Google is ranking our brand new website in the top 5 spots. We can then keep this doctor there by adding new blog posts over time.

While many chiropractors realize the usefulness of organic or free search engine optimization, most do not yet grasp the potential of pay-per-click marketing (PPC).

Based on this, I also predict that more chiropractors will discover how well Google Adwords can work for new patient marketing. It surprises me that more chiropractors are not taking advantage of this great marketing tool. Many tell me it’s because they’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. However, the problem occurs when doctors send Adword’s “visitors” directly to their homepage on their website. By using condition-specific landing pages, with direct response copy, plus email marketing follow-up, my internet marketing clients are finding this method very successful and will continue to do so into next year.

Admittedly there is a learning curve to Adwords, along with the reward and punishment system Google has built into it.

But in my opinion its well worth the time spent for the return on investment, especially in the long run. Of course for those who don’t want to learn it or don’t have the time, we created Chiropractic Marketing Web specifically for this reason.

#5. Deeper Patient Relationships

Because of what many are calling the New Economy, patients are more careful with their money. Even though we are moving out of the recession and the overall economy will improve in 2010, people are not ready to be back in the 2008-2009 feeling where money was tight.

If you’ve been in practice for long, this really is no surprise. Patients, being human beings like the rest of us, tend to drop out of things over time. Yet I expect this to rise in 2010 as more healthcare opportunities will come into the market combined with more careful spending mentioned above.

Both of these, the careful spending and more competition, means that chiropractors will have to work harder to keep their current patients.

It still surprises me that doctors are willing to spend so much to get a new patient, but scrimp on spending anything to keep them over the long term. Something as simple as mailing a chiropractic newsletter once a month is a bare essential. Holding true patient appreciation events and creating V.I.P. lists will take your practice to an even higher level.

Other great strategies for keeping your patients longer include dinner workshops, patient of the month programs, referral contests, and stick letters.

You can also expect more online patient communication to grow in 2010. The most powerful of these is email marketing, but many chiropractors will also get their facebook and twitter pages up and running.

This concludes my 5 big predictions for 2010. I recommend planning for them sooner rather than later.

Did I miss one you thought was important? Do you have a prediction I didn’t mention? Leave your comments below.

5 Predictions for 2010, Part 1

As we finish out 2009, I want to look forward at some possible trends in 2010. Today’s post looks at the first 3 predictions I see for next year. While these are things you should think about, I’m not a prophet and could be proven wrong on some of these. So make sure and get a “multitude of counselors” before completely changing your business. They are simply my best guess at what’s going to happen and I’ll be advising my coaching clients in this direction.

1. More Cash Practices.

The number of cash practices will continue to increase. Having run both a cash-only practice and a more mixed practice, I generally stay away from this argument. It seems in the past, most people making the cash-only choice were doing it for purely philosophical reasons, and not for business reasons. My opinion has been that if insurance is good in your area, why not use it. And based on clients and customers I’ve spoken with, that has worked well.

But things are about to change. As I write this, it appears the U.S. government insists on getting its hands into the insurance game. No matter what some of the articles in chiropractic journals might say, this will not end well for chiropractors (or Americans in general). No matter your political standing, you know this will be true.

Here’s why..

Do you currently like the Medicare payments? Well, under this new legislation a proposed $480 billion dollars in cuts to Medicare will be done over 10 years. Do you think chiropractors will be at the top or bottom of those cuts? How well do you enjoy Medicaid in your state? Now even more of your patients will qualify for Medicaid under the new government “health exchanges”.

Because most Americans will have to buy into these exchanges, or pay a $750 fine, more people will have these plans. This likely will not bode well for your practice. I could go one, but have 4 other predictions to cover. You can read a summary of the proposed bill here.

#2. More Focus on Specific Niches

Because of the drastic effects mentioned above, I predict more chiropractors will have to focus on specific niches. This is good because it will allow you to help more motivated patients and you can charge higher case fees.

Niches are subgroups of the overall patient population. Not only will you need to market specifically to them using language they understand and related to (as in the Ultimate Chiropractic Ads), but you’ll need to set up specific treatment plans for them. Examples include spinal decompression, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, etc. As you can see, some of these niches will require you to purchase additional equipment. But this need not be overly expensive, especially if you look at what other people are doing.

For example, Dr. Hayes showed us how he put together his neuropathy treatment program in the recent webinar we did (replay at http://www.neuropathychiros.com).

It’s better to make these changes now before you have to because of lower income. A practice focusing on and marketing to a few specific niches is the key to having a high-income, low-stress office.

#3. Additional Products and Services.

Predict chiropractic offices will focus on selling additional products and services to their patients. This includes additional products and services the patients is already getting somewhere else. Different types of nutritional supplements that help in healing and weight loss. Physical therapy or rehab services that increase that speed healing.

For the patient, this will will be a benefit since they can get more in one place, and have the doctors recommendation too. The benefit to you of course is increased income and patient satisfaction. The more satisfied they are, the longer they are likely to stay a patient in your office.

Look for Part 2 next Monday, where I’ll discuss the 4th and 5th predictions for 2010.

Is Passion the Key to Success?

passionkeyTony Robbins said “There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete or an artist, a scientist, a parent, or a businessperson.”

Much has been said about the word “passion” in our profession. We were told in school we had to have a passion for chiropractic and a passion to help others.

A weekend seminar with most any chiropractic coaching group will fill you with enough passion to spend thousands of dollars on their services. And we’ve all heard that to be great in life, we must have a passion for what we do.

But what is passion?

Does it really have a place in the modern chiropractic practice?

There can be many uses for the word passion ranging from The Passion (as in the suffering of Christ) to “an outbreak of anger.”

However, the best definition for our for our discussions would be Merriam-Webster’s: “an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction”.

Sounds like a good thing to have, right?

Not always…

My first year in practice, when I was really struggling, I often went to the gurus of chiropractic to find help. In almost every case, I was told I that I just needed more passion to be successful.

So I would rededicate myself to reading the Green Books, listening to Sigafoose tapes, going to more seminars, telling the chiropractic “story”; a daily “ritual” of passion. I reasoned that if it was passion that made success, I just needed more of it to succeed.

Needless to say, it wasn’t passion that saved my practice, unless you want to call it a “passion for trying to save my family from living on the street!”. (To find out more about my story, see my previous blog posts “Why We Do It?” and “Wait And See Marketing“.)

The type of passion being thrown around chiropractic is not always a good thing. It can lead you into mountains of debt. After all, what’s a few more dollars in debt to save the world, right?

Unbridled passion can cause you to turn decent patients away, by being a ‘my way or the highway’ type of practice. It can also cause you to spend crazy amounts of money on bad marketing that is never going to work.

So you may think I’m saying passion is not important in life. I’m not.

Passion is important, but it’s not the most important thing.

Passion is only part of success. I think these two guys said it best…

“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Passion is a tool that you should use to push you forward, in the right direction. It’s a defense against the constant onslaught of skeptics telling you chiropractic doesn’t work. It’s a determination to live a healthy lifestyle and keep out of the drug ‘merry-go-around’ of modern healthcare.

I know it’s rare to hear someone speak out against passion in chiropractic. (Some might consider it blasphemous!)

Hey, I’m not against chiropractic passion. There’s nothing wrong with reading the Green Books or listening to Sigafoose tapes. But don’t think by simply being more passionate, you’re going to have a successful practice.

There are chiropractors who need a bit more philosophy and more passion for chiropractic. But is it really the overriding issue that struggling doctors are suffering from? An outsider attending chiropractic seminars might get think it is. But I would say we have bigger problems keeping chiros down than a lack of passion.

Do you agree or disagree?