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.