5 Surefire Practice Growth Strategies

We all want to grow. We want our practice volume to grow, our income to grow, and our positive influence in the community to grow. Often times in our quest to grow we jump at every strategy that comes our way, thinking we’ve finally found “the secret” to growth.

But the truth is there is not a huge secret to growth. There are 5 simple strategies to grow. If you improve in these 5 areas, your practice could not keep itself from growing. If your struggling to grow take a look at this list and find the one (or more) strategy that you need to work on.

1. Acquire More New Patients

As I’ve said, there is not secret and this point proves it. Everyone realizes you’ve got to get more new patients to grow. While there are plenty of business coaches telling you to plug the “leaky bucket” and not worry about new ones, common sense tells you that new patients are the life blood of your practice.

So if everyone knows about this strategy, why aren’t more people successful at it?

Well, knowing about it and being good at it are two different things indeed. Most chiropractors (any health practitioner for that matter) have been told various lies about marketing, like: it’s degrading, it’s not for doctors, and my personal favorite “marketing is unethical”. Of course there are snakes out there doing these things. Yet one bad apple doesn’t mean all the rest are bad too. If you’ve got a website, that’s marketing. A business card, that’s marketing as well.

You get the point. Marketing is extremely ethical, especially if you’re in a profession that can help people. It would be unethical to be able to help people and then keep them from finding you for your services. So the question you really need to ask is “how do I find and use effective marketing?”

The general answer is to find and use marketing that proves itself. If you have proven yellow pages work in your area within the last year, by measuring the ROI, then keep using them. If your town has a newspaper, then you should know if a good ad will work there. The specific answer is to look at the links above in the menu bar and the Other Tools where I recommend other people’s products.

2. Get Stronger Conversions

What good goes it do to get 30 new patients a month if you only convert one of them to care? I struggled with low conversions when first starting in practice. Some of my problem was confidence issues, but the bigger part was poor presentation. No, you don’t have to be a sweet-talking care salesman, but you’ve got to present your case with truth and certainty. Imagine going for brain surgery and the surgeon is nervous, uncertain and not very trustworthy. Would you “start care” with him?

The easiest way to get better conversions is to bring in better qualified patients. Patients referred in by others are usually very qualified for care and have already gotten a recommendation from someone else. Also, by using effective marketing like I mentioned above, you can market to certain conditions which are more likely to follow through with your care recommendations.

For more tips on conversions, see my article entitled “14 Ways to Increase Your Conversions“.

3. Collect More Per Visit

How much do you collect per visit on average? Not a guess, but the actual number?

If you’re like I was the first 2 years in business, I had no clue. I thought that since my charge for adjustment was $45, that was my average. Imagine my surprise when I actually did the calculation and found it to be $17. No wonder some coaches tell people “not to worry about the numbers” — wow! How many visits do you have to see at $17 to make a living these days?

So the point is figure up your number and know it. Take all the gross collections you made last month, or last year, and divide by the number of visits in that time period. You may be surprised at what you find.

So how do you increase this amount?

You need to add more services that the patient wants or needs. Easy ideas are massage, nutritional supplements, rehab, weight loss programs, etc. I’m not saying you’ve got to be a Walmart and offer everything under one roof. But adding a couple of extra services you and your patients are interested in will only benefit everyone. Another thing you can do to collect more per visit is raise your fees a little. The costs of running a practice do go up over time, so don’t be shy about raising your fees to make up for it. If you’ve been holding off for years from doing this, now is the time.

4. Increase Your Patient Visit Average (PVA)

Of the 5 things listed here, this is one of the most difficult. I know, you’ve heard stories about people having a PVA of 100+. And they may be using the easier way to increase PVA, which is to discount everything down to nothing (like the $17 a visit mentioned above!)

But for the rest of us, we realize that human nature is what it is, and we live in a world that does not like to commit. It’s nothing for people to have an excuse for missing appointments. Other may not like the perfume your front desk wears and they’ll go down the street to see someone else.

The best way to increase PVA is simply to tell patients at the beginning how many visits you recommend. Not scaring them into it or anything like that. But simply saying here’s how many I think it will take. Other strategies that help are patient education, front desk follow-up, in-office marketing, and having a good rapport with patients.

5. Lower Your Overhead

The one everyone body loves to hate — overhead expenses! But the easiest way to increase your income is to keep more of what you make.

Many doctors think there is nothing that can be done about their monthly business expenses. But this is not true. Everything is negotiable, from lower rent and CAM charges on a lease to a lower monthly cell phone bill. Simply contact all your vendors/suppliers and ask them for lower rates.You’ll be surprised how many will budge.

Also, paying interest on debt every month can kill a practice. What if you kept all your debt payments every month and pocketed them. How much would that add up to? Develop a plan to repay your debt as soon as possible. I followed and recommend the Total Money Makeover.

Some doctors cut out their marketing budget to reduce expenses. But this is very, very dangerous and can send you into a deadly spiral (which I wrote more on here.)

Which of these 5 strategies do you struggle with? Leave a comment below.

My Chiropractic Marketing Plan for 2011, Part 2

Last week we looked at three big marketing strategies you should be be doing this year to build your practice. (To read that post, click here.) Today, let us look at four more marketing methods you would be very wise to use in 2011 for your biggest year yet.

#4. Have Your Staff Do “Focused” Spinal Screenings

This recommendation may come as a shock to some of my readers, as I have often times said spinal screenings are a waste of time for most doctors. And I still tell my clients and customers that. For the doctor, it is not a good use of your time to go and spend 4 hours standing at the front of a business, chasing people with a clipboard in hand. I’ve done enough of these types of screenings in my lifetime and 95% of them were a complete waste.

But there are three reasons you should do spinal screenings: (1) you’re new in practice, (2) you’re about to go out of business and need new patients ASAP, or (3) you can have someone else do it for you at a big event. It’s this third one that I recommend you focus on in 2011. A big event would be a huge festival that your town holds once per year, or a large business that let’s your staff come in to screen (like Walmart, Costco, etc.). Notice I said “your staff”, and not you as the doctor. If you want to streamline this process for your staff, and find out how chiropractors are still getting into Walmart to do screenings, I recommend you get Dr. Smith’s Spinal Screening Program.

#5. Email Marketing With Current and Inactive Patients

It’s amazing that many chiropractors still don’t ask for their patient’s email address. It’s as simple as including it on the intake form for all new patients. The reason this is so important in your marketing strategy is that we’re all human, which means we forget things. Patient’s forget appointments unless reminded. And this is especially true of patients who’s treatment plan does not require them to come in often (maintenance or wellness patients, etc.) How much revenue is lost in your practice every week simply because people forgot about their appointments?

The simple solution is to set up a system with your staff to email patients about their appointments. Or society is becoming more and more an email/internet society, replacing the telephone. My dentist emails me a remind before each appointment, which makes a huge difference when I’m extremely busy and likely to forget. Now I don’t recommend this for all patients, but you should make a list of the ones who need to be reminded most. Also, something similar can be done for inactive patients. You can compile an email letter that offers inactive patients to return to care. If your list is set up right, with a click of a button your email can go out to thousands of inactive patients at once. This strategy can really have an affect on your practice in the long run.

#6. Get More PI Patients

As health insurance becomes more difficult to work with in 2011, many chiropractors will turn to seeing more car accident cases. Unfortunately, most chiropractors still think PI marketing is all about using outdated attorney-schmoozing techniques to get new PI patients. While it’s true a few chiropractors do this, its by no means necessary to for having a successful PI practice.

There are much better ways to get new patients from attorneys, as well as MDs, ER rooms, body shops, existing patients, Facebook, and more. This does not mean you must become a 100% PI mill practice. But you should take another look at PI, as the return is much higher because you actually get paid a fair value for your care, if it’s done right. See This PI Marketingprogram for all the new marketing strategies you can use.

#7. Use Direct Mail

Direct mail has long been a tested and proven marketing method in businesses worldwide. But when the recent recession hit, so many companies pulled out of direct mail marketing that the USPS took a huge hit. And unfortunately many chiropractors did the same. Of course cutting back on your direct mail campaign doesn’t make sense if all your competition has done the same. Like newspaper ads, now is the best time to use direct mail, since others are cutting back or convinced it doesn’t work.

What type of direct mail? I would not suggest fancy postcards. Long copy letters and postcards work best, but they must be written well and not sound sleazy or cheap. Also, list selection is important when it comes to direct mail. Getting a good list from a list broker can increase your return on investment drastically. We’ll look closer at direct mail in a future blog post.

The super-successful practice will implement all seven of these strategies. Which of these 7 will you implement this year?

My Chiropractic Marketing Plan for 2011

Have you set up your marketing plan for this year yet?

If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Set your goals high and plan now for a breakthrough year. Big numbers are possible with the right tools. Just a few weeks ago a client told me he had received 300 extra new patients from using my newspaper ads in 2010. What would 300 more new patients do for your practice, and more importantly your lifestyle?

Here are my recommendations regarding the marketing strategies you should be focusing on for 2011.

1. Finally Do Online Marketing Right.

Chiropractic internet marketing is the strangest thing. It’s the one strategy everyone knows they should be doing, as its getting bigger and bigger every day. It’s also one of the lowest forms of marketing you can do for your practice.

But here’s the strange part: most chiropractors are dragging their feet on doing anything. I’ve seen people spend hours “marketing” on Facebook and Twitter, while their website can hardly be found on Google. Every day you wait to do it right, someone else comes along in your town and figures it out. Being ranked #1 on Google is like being king of hill, and the longer a competitor stays king of the hill the harder it is to knock them off.

So here’s what you need to do right now. Make sure your website shows up on Google’s top 5 for your area for the major keywords that patients would type in; chiropractor, back pain, headaches, decompression, etc. If you’re not there, that’s the first thing to work on. Once you’re set up at least in the top 10, add some condition specific landing pages to your website and buy some qualified traffic from Adwords to send to your site. (See my explanation in more detail here.)

You may choose to put in the time to do this or hire someone else to do it for you. If you hire someone else, please make sure they (1) know chiropractic, (2) can write marketing copy and (3) actually understand how Google works. Very few web designers understand chiropractic enough to present it to the public. And most web designers are more gifted in the technical skills of programming than in writing. This produces a beautiful site with moving spines and award-winning graphics, but wouldn’t convince your mom to come in as a patient.

Also they must understand what Google likes (hint: it’s called a WordPress site layout). Any high school kid can build a website for you. But there is very little chance it will ever make the coveted top 10 on Google. And if you, your wife, and the aforementioned high school kid are the only ones to every see your website…it’s pointless.

If you would like more information on having your own chiropractic website or you’re ready to get more out of your existing website, I would suggest checking out Chiropractic Marketing Web.

#2. Ignore the ‘Death of Newspapers’ Mantra

When I wrote my first newspaper ad for my practice, someone told me it was pointless since newspaper didn’t work any more. The ad brought in 17 decompression patients at the cost of $800. In 2009 my Ultimate Chiropractic Ads brought in a conservative estimate of $20 million dollars for chiropractors in the U.S. (I haven’t estimated 2010 yet, but it has to be about 5 times that based on the numbers of doctors who bought them.)

Here’s the point…

Ignore the gloomy predictions and focus on your practice now. Will newspapers disappear? Maybe they will someday. Who knows. But the question you need to ask yourself is this: “Is there a newspaper in my town?” If the answer is yes, you should be advertising there. When there no longer is a newspaper in your area, then you can join with the naysayers and proclaim that newspapers are dead. Until then, use them for all they’re worth.

Here are the best producing ads according to feedback in 2010:

  • Spinal decompression
  • Neuropathy (crazy numbers are being reported for these ads)
  • Back pain/sciatica
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Migraine headaches

You can see the commonality between the above…they all are condition specific ads. In 2011, you’ll need to get even better at showing prospects how you can help them with their specific problems.

#3. Get Into Local Businesses

This year, setting up events in local businesses will bring you many more new patients. While this method has been around for decades, the same old techniques don’t work today. New tactics have been tested to educate and schedule new patient appointments from these events. One method that is working very well is using a Teacher Appreciation Program to check teachers in local schools. If you have a massage therapist on staff, they will be very useful in making connections with local businesses.

Where should you go?

The list is endless. Schools, malls, gyms, banks, Costco and even Walmart. (Yes,Walmart is possible. Look for more on this unique strategy in a few days.) Many of these places, like Costco, will have some type of community health event already planned each year.

I’ve got 4 more strategies you must use in 2011, but this blog post is getting a bit long already. Look for the final 4 next week, one of which you will be shocked I’m actually endorsing!

Use this list to and check off what you need to do.Get out a calendar and pencil in dates that ads will run, changes to be made, etc. Let’s make 2011 your best year yet.