Are student loans worth it?

Student loan debt in America is estimated to be over $1 trillion. If you went to chiropractic school like I did, you’ve helped we’ve helped this number along considerably! And as Americans we also owe more on our student loans than cars or credit cards. (see here.)

Is there an education bubble that’s about to burst? This short video makes a good case for one. What do you think?

3 Steps to Convert Phone Calls to Paying Patients

In my last post, I looked at the 7 Principles of the Report of Findings. But the report is not the first step in new patient flow.

The first step is actually scheduling the patient for their first appointment. And even before they call there is marketing going on which urges them to call in the first place.

Even though marketing is the issue where most people in our profession are the weakest, I regularly deal with that subject.

What I want to look at today though is how to improve the scheduling of patients on the first phone call.

#1. Use a phone script

Most chiropractors have no idea how many new patients are lost on the first phone call. Only a small portion of the doctors I’ve talked to have ever listened to their staff handle a patient on the phone. And even fewer practices have a script in place for their staff to use.

To let your staff ‘fly by the seat of their pants’ in scheduling new patients is not good business procedure. Now when I say ‘use a script’, I do not mean your staff has to hardsell or pressure the patient in.

I simply mean that there should be an easy step-by-step procedure to fall back on so your front desk person isn’t just answering 20 questions every time the phone rings. How many scheduling calls have been sidetracked by the patient starting to ask irrelevant questions like, “What type of adjusting does the doctor do? Where did he go to school? How long has he been in practice? What’s his pet’s name? What’s his favorite color??”

This is just an interview, where the caller is looking for an answer to come up which they don’t like, so they can hang up and call the next clinic. That’s why the staff person needs a script, so they can quickly answer the question and then follow up with a scheduling question of their own. Here’s what I mean, “The doctor’s favorite color is blue. Why don’t we schedule you for an appoint to talk about his technique, cat’s name, etc.. Which is better for you, morning or afternoon?”

#2. Be friendly on the phone.

Have you ever called a lawyer’s office? The typical phone answer is “Lawyer’s office!” usually in a gruff, somewhat annoyed tone of voice.

Yet there are some doctors who have copied this, by letting their staff answer the phone “Doctor’s office!” No, that will not do. Be friendly. Have them say something like, “This is Dr. ____ ‘s office. How may we help you?”

And make sure you have someone answering the phone that is a friendly and positive person. If you hire someone who is a negative, pessimist then don’t be surprised when they run off patients and throw away thousands of dollars in revenue.

I’ve also heard some stories from doctors where their staff said really stupid things on the phone too, like “oh you poor thing, why don’t you just take tylenol for that?”

The goal of every new patient phone call should be to spend as little time on the phone to get them scheduled for an appointment. In my experience, the longer a phone call lasts, the less likely the patient will schedule.

#3. Hold your phone receptionist accountable.

Unless you only see 1 patient an hour, you can’t sit there and monitor every call that comes in. That’s why I recommend regular (or at least periodic) recording of calls.

Every large company records calls for quality control. Why shouldn’t you do the same?

I recommend you try My Doctor Calls for this type of program. Usually they can set it up cheaper than you can, plus they have all kinds of tracking capabilities for your marketing too.

Built by internet pioneers and led by some of the world’s most respected doctors, they delivered the first state-of-the-art call tracking application specifically designed for doctors.

Check them out at or call them at 1-800-483-9190. Use the code “BECK100? to get $100 off.


7 Principles of the Report of Findings

How’s your Report of Findings (ROF) working for you?

One of the most important visits a patient can make to your office is the report of findings visit. Some practices give a report on the first visit. Most probably give it on the second visit. Some even do it on a third or fourth visit.

A few dislike the term and say they never do it, although I guarantee they give some kind of explanation to the patient of what is wrong and how chiropractic care will fix it.

Most ROF’s are way too complicated, especially the ones devised by various coaching systems.

Why does every consultant teach the KISS principle with patient education, but on the biggest patient education day of care (the ROF!) they advise some complex, multi-step process that even a Rhodes Scholar would have a hard time following.

The simpler you make the ROF, the better it will go for both parties involved. How complex are MD’s when describing a medical procedure? Don’t like the comparison to MD’s? OK, have you ever sat through a complex presentation for getting braces at the orthodontist? The last one I sat in on was about 5 minutes max, then another 5 minutes to work out the finances with the staff.

Buying a house may be the most complex transaction known to man, yet the title company will slide papers under your nose so fast to sign that you’re out of there in 30 minutes. They make it so simple all you do is sign your name a hundred times, go into major debt, and leave very happy!

So in honor of the KISS principle, I’m recommending 7 easy strategies for your report of findings.

1. Be prepared

This one is so easy, but I can’t tell you how many chiros fail at it! I know we all get busy and procrastinate like crazy. I’ve done it too! But nothing can make you, your staff, and our profession look bad if you don’t come in prepared. Do some kind of analysis on your x-rays. Type up a recommended care plan. Think about the questions and objections you might hear from the patient.

2. Write up financials beforehand.

Don’t go into the report with a calculator and try to come up with something on the spot. Have a very neatly prepared financial sheet with all the recommended visits typed out and the cost of each unit beside it. (i.e. 24 adjustments x $55 = 1320.) Do not complicate this sheet. It needs to be something that an 8th grader would understand. Basic math. If your patients are asking a lot of questions about the financial papers, then you’ve made it too confusing.

3. Don’t Be Salesy

Present your findings and let them speak for themselves. Show the degeneration, misalignment, bad posture, etc. Don’t say, “You will die if you don’t get this fixed! Or at the least have cancer in 5 years!” You just turned off everybody but the lonely soul who comes to you just to have someone touch them. Your emphasis needs to be on objective findings.

4. Don’t Give a Dissertation on Chiropractic

You’ve got about 10-15 minutes max to make your point. If you go on and on, people will just start drifting of. Then you are going to have to repeat everything when the financials come up. Just answer their main questions, which are: what’s the problem and how are you going to help fix it. This is no time for a 1 hour history on chiropractic, anatomy, physiology, done pathology, disc herniation rates, or any other class that put you to sleep in school. If they wanted to know all that stuff they would have gone to chiropractic school too.

5.Have Your Staff Present the Financials

One of the best things I learned in practice was letting my CA go in and present the financials. This is so rare outside our profession, that all non-chiros reading this will wonder what I’m talking about. Just tell them what you found, how your going to help fix it, and go through the recommended care plan. Then tell them, “Jane will be right in to go over the finances with you.” Jane comes in with her prepared financial plans, and sits down to explain them.

6. Give Payment Options

Have you heard of “he Expert in our profession? No? He goes by many different names, depending on which consulting group you’re in. I’ve heard many stories about the man, but never actually met him. He’s the chiropractor who personally signs up 100 out of 100 cases on a $3000 prepaid plan. That’s right, not one single patient has ever gone home to think about it in his practice, much less asked for a payment plan. But if you’re just a mortal like me, then I suggest you give 2-3 payment options. Something like a bookkeeping discount, a monthly payment, and some type of financing through a third-party.

7. Track Your Conversion Rate

While this isn’t something you do during your report of findings, it is essential to improving your rates. Each month, total up the number of new patients who started care and divide by the total number of those that showed up for the report. Less than 50% and something is seriously wrong. 60-70% needs improvement. 80-90% and you’re doing great. 100% and you’re the elusive Expert mentioned above that everyone has been dieing to meet (now get a calculator out this time and be honest!)

The 100 Ways to Get 1 New Patient Fallacy

I’ve heard it repeated many places in chiropractic that “I’d rather have 100 ways to get 1 new patient than 1 way to get 100 new patients.”

This suffers from the “either-or” fallacy (also known as the false dilemma or false dichotomy). In logic, a fallacy is a misconception from incorrect reasoning. The Either-Or fallacy “involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are other options.”

This type of fallacy is used when trying to get the reader or listener to force a choice.

Here’s a couple of examples from our profession. “You’re either a mixer or a straight.” “You’re either all-cash or all-insurance.”

Now if you’re son is only 5 years old, and you say “eat your vegetables or else!”, that’s fine because he’s not mature enough yet to make wise decisions. But when you’re dealing with adults, using this fallacy is troublesome to say the least.

And here’s how it works when a marketer is trying to sell their stuff.

“Do you want to get 30 new patients a month or not?”

“So do you want 100 ways to get 1 new patient or 1 way to get 100 new patients?”

Well, hmmm….let’s see.

Can I just choose 30 ways to get 5 new patients each, please sir? Or 20 ways to get 10 new patients each?

You see, there are so many possible combinations, it’s silly to narrow it down to simply two extremes.

Plus, 100 ways to get new patients may be a 100 crappy ways to get new patients. Like a recent article I saw in the chiropractic journal on marketing. It list numerous ways to get new patients like hand out business cards, smile with your patients, be friendly to others, and so on.

While these are nice business tips on how to be courteous, they aren’t really in-depth marketing strategies. By the way, everyone should be smiling more and being friendly!

The question you need to ask yourself about buying chiropractic marketing products is simple…

Will this product or service produce a good ROI?

If you think it will, buy it. But make sure you measure the ROI. Don’t get sucked into just looking at new patients.

100 new patients who pay $20 each is not as good as 10 new patients who pay $2,000 each.

By the way, here is one of the highest returns in chiropractic right now.

So don’t fall for the Either-Or fallacy. Measure your return on investment, and keep using marketing that brings in a return.

Money is Evil (and other lies)

One of the main reasons we open a business of our own is to make a good living helping others. Another is to employ people so they can make money to support their family.

Coaching seminars and popular books teach that if I just think about money the right way — focus really hard on it — then it will just show up in my lap tomorrow! (Try this and tell me if it worked for you.)

In chiropractic school, I was often told to “do the right thing and the money will come.” The idea here was that if you pursue money, you could be doing the wrong thing (instead of the right thing.)

I did the right thing (helping sick people get well) for a couple of years when I started out, yet that didn’t seem to be enough pay the bills. Was there something more? (Yes, see full story here.)

Some people say that “money is the root of all evil, after all the Bible says so.” Actually the Bible says “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

You see it’s loving money more than anything else that makes money an idol. People who love money will treat others badly. They will become immoral and unethical because the ends (more money) justify the means.

But money is just paper and coins. It doesn’t have a mind of it’s own. Even the value it holds is what a government or a person gives it.

True, money is necessary in our world. And can be used for good. Financial guru Dave Ramsey, in Total Money Makeover, says:

It is the duty of the good people to get wealth to keep it from the bad people, because the good people will do good with it. If we all abandon money because some misguided souls view it as evil, then the only ones with the money will be the pornographer, the drug dealer, or the pimp. Simply enough?

So money is just a tool. A tool that can be used for good or evil. Accumulation of it can be seen as the end goal of a person’s life, where he or she is essentially worshiping it as a god. Or it can be a tool to bless others, feed and clothe your family, help your neighbor, educate your children, etc.

Maybe that is what J. Paul Getty meant when he said, “Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells.” If we just pile it up like Scrooge, are we actually using it for it’s intended purpose?

This leaves us with the big question about money. The question most coaches, consultants, and secret books don’t want to talk about.

Where does the money really come from? Your patients? The tooth fairy? God? Your bank? The universe? The government? A money tree?

Tell me what you think below in the comments?

3 Steps to Spinal Decompression Marketing

In my last post on spinal decompression, I gave you my two favorite recommendations for spinal decompression tables. I was responding to part of an email I had gotten, which can be summarized as:

What is the most cost effective way (cost effective table) that you recommend to implement this into the practice? Also, could you tell me about your decompression marketing? Thanks

Today I want to continue this discussion of the decompression niche by looking at the second part of the question, namely how should you market your table.

As I said before, the issue of which table to buy and how you’re going to market it are not separable. They should go together, or you’ll just end up with an expensive piece of equipment collecting dust in your office.

One of the biggest problems I see with doctors who have a decompression table in their office a complete lack of marketing. There should be someone on it getting treated every 15-20 minutes from the time you open until you close the doors at night.

Now let’s look at how to do that.

1. Print Ads

I know, I know, everyone predicted that print ads went the way of the dinosaur 5 years ago. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., etc. are the only that that matters now.

But back in the real world, newspaper ads are kickin’ butt at bringing in new patients for decomp doctors. One of my Decompression Marketing Elite clients this past fall got so many new patients over a 2-3 month period he had to buy a second table, and paid for it with cash!

How can this be if print advertising is dead?

Do we have to know the exact reason? It’s working now, that’s what counts. Maybe its that less people are running ads, so your ads will stand out easier. Maybe its because the mostly likely candidate for treatment on your table is between the ages of 40-65 and those are the people reading the newspaper.

Another quality marketing strategy of decompression marketing that’s often missed is ‘sub-niching’ the market. You see, the spinal decompression market is a niche within chiropractic.

But there are different kinds of problems people present within your practice. Some have back pain, others sciatica, others have numbness or muscle atrophy, some neck pain, other headaches. All of these are sub-niches in that they break up the overall niche.

Why is this important?

Because once you realize each of these patient groups are speaking a different language, it allows for you to focus your marketing on each group. To get an idea of how I’ve done that and see some example ads click here to watch a webinar where I explained it in greater detail.

2. Internet marketing

Once you’ve got print ads running, get your internet marketing streamline and working at full speed. DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that internet marketing is all you need, as if it will replace all other kinds of marketing. This is a huge mistake I see. Chiropractors fall for all the hype on the internet, put all their eggs in one basket with online marketing, and wake up a few months later wondering where the new patients are.

Marketing your practice online is not the be all end all, magic pill of marketing. While Dr. A spends 5 hours a week on Facebook trying to get a new patient, Dr. B down the street runs an ad and get 17 new ones at a case fee of $2500.

So now that we’ve dealt with the hype, let’s look at what’s working online.

The best thing you can do is take a few well written ads and make them landing pages on your website. Also, well-scripted videos of you explaining the benefits of decompression treatments are a big hit. Plus you can never have enough patient testimonials, including testimonial videos.

You should have the regulars too, like a regularly updated blog, contact info and maps, and Facebook, Twitter, Google + Pinterest and other links. This is all done very easily using WordPress and all the plugins. For example, at the top of this post you’ll see all 4 buttons you should click to like this article.

Just remember, print ads are the big rushes of new patients each month and internet marketing is the slow, steady stream. You want both. Marketing is not an “either/or” fallacy but instead a “both/and” truth.

3. Referrals

This one should be obvious. If you just got a table, it’s likely you’ve got a constant flow of chiropractic patients who could easily be converted to decompression patients as well. You should also send out regular emails and newsletters to your patient base reminding them of this helpful equipment you have acquired. Visit BNI groups, chambers of commerce, and other places where you can speak on the effectiveness of this service.

Most of you can get a lot more referrals than you realize. Other patients can refer decompression patients in like crazy, but you might have to remind them to do so.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to market your decomp services, check out my Decompression Marketing Elite program. I just added a new component which makes it the best deal we’ve ever put together.

A Personal Ad Placement Expert Working For You to Handle Everything

The day you join Decompression Marketing Elite, you’ll get your own personal ad agency working for you to place the ads and negotiate rock bottom advertising prices with the newspaper.

You’ll get a tested marketing expert who’s helped chiropractors save thousands in ad prices and brought in more qualified new patients just by handling your ad placement. In 2010 alone she helped bring in over 300 new patients for just one chiropractic office using only newspaper ads.

Here’s what you’ll get each month with this component…

  • Contact the local newspaper to speak to the ad rep.
  •  Negotiate a huge savings for your ads (some doctors have saved hundreds of dollars per ad!)
  • Strategically Choose the Best Ads to Run (based on real past results)
  • Add Local Condition-Specific Testimonials from your practice
  • Proof Your Ad for Accuracy and Submit it for publication

As you can see, it’s like having a person marketing assistant working closely with you.

Carol Ann Smith, the marketing expert providing this service, normally gets $150 per month for placing an ad, but you’ll get it completely FREE as a client.

Find out more here:

Could Google’s Product from the Future Be Your Next Office Software?

Google has been working on a pair of glasses that would allow anyone to use their products, services, and the internet from anywhere while sitting, walking (or driving!)

As I was watching the video below, I wondered how useful this will be for health care offices to quickly pull up patient files. Is this something you could see running your office software, or does it seem too far fetched to be of any practical use?

Do You Have These 3 Fears of MD Referrals?

This is a guest post by Dr. Jonathan Walker

For most chiropractors, receiving referrals from medical physicians is looked upon with a healthy dose of skepticism. If you’ve been in practice for a long time you likely remember a day when MDs would just as soon refer their patient to a witch doctor as a chiropractor. If you’re newer to the profession you might feel intimidated by the prospect of trying to explain the neurophysiology of spinal manipulation to a seasoned medical veteran.

There is no single “magic phrase” to open the referral floodgate, but there are 3 crippling fears keep MDs from referring patients for chiropractic care. These are not pie in the sky theories, but rather secrets I’ve learned from marketing to over 300 medical providers in my area as well as working with doctors all over the country.

1. Fear #1: You’ll steal their patient
Regardless of what variety of conditions you treat in your practice, when working with MDs your emphasis must be that you’re a specialist in conservative musculoskeletal care and will not try and usurp their role as the patient’s primary care provider (PCP).

I always make sure to tell other doctors that we do not function as PCPs, but that we find patients are best served when their chiropractor and medical physicians are all communicating together. This gives them the comfort that you won’t try and undermine their treatment of the patient. We expect professional respect and courtesy from MD and this goes both ways, even when you may disagree with a particular element of their management plan.

As a matter of fact it’s a good business (and social) practice to go out of your way to tell the patient what a great doctor they have and what good hands they’re in. Odds are this compliment will make it back to the referring physician, and that’s always a good thing!

2. Fear #2: They don’t really understand what chiropractors do
Most MDs seem to view chiropractic in the same light as many chiropractors do acupuncture. They believe that there is validity to the treatment, but they don’t know a lot about how it actually works.

This fear is easily conquered by ongoing education to provide familiarity with chiropractic, our level of expertise in treating musculoskeletal conditions, and the latest peer-reviewed research. For all of my PI Marketing Elite doctors we recommend one print, one electronic (e-mail) and one live contact a month. We provide cutting-edge MD newsletters and e-newsletters 100% “done for you” to make this process automatic.

3. Fear #3: Their patient will get a 6 month long treatment plan on their first visit to your office
I’m not going to debate the pros and cons of recommending long courses of care with cash pre-payment, but I do want to point out that if you want to receive medical referrals MDs cringe at the idea of a 6 month long treatment plan given on the first visit.

I explain that in my office we do a trial course of care, typically lasting anywhere from 2-4 weeks, depending on the patient’s condition. At the end of the trial we reassess the patient and if they’re making progress we start spacing out the time between visits and giving them home exercises to do.

This type of approach fits the paradigm they’re used to working within when they refer to a physical therapist, so in their minds you then become a viable option for referrals.

By preemptively dealing with these three common fears you’ll unlock an untapped goldmine of referrals, and help countless patients find relief with chiropractic care. I’ve seen it work first-hand in my own practice, and you can replicate this success in your office!

Dr. Jonathan Walker is president of PI Marketing Elite, and a full-time practicing chiropractor. MD marketing is a key area addressed in the marketing modules of PI Marketing Elite, and we provide you with turnkey tools, scripts, and strategies to use in your practice. Log onto or call Dr. Walker directly at 904-616-1284.

How to Correct the 3 Biggest Mistakes in Your Advertising

Does everyone who calls in for an appoint show up? Do you ever wonder how many new patient appointments are being lost on the first phone call?

I frequently get this type of email message…

“Hi Doc. I just ran one of your ads. We got 20 calls and 11 came in for the exam. How can we get better results from the ads?

Unfortunately, this is a huge problem in chiropractic offices (or any health practitioner for that matter!)

The problem here isn’t the ad. After all, it intitiated 20 new patients calls! But to have only 55% of those calling in show up for the first visit is ridiculous.

But you want to know the scary part? This is happening in almost every office around the world.

Your office may not be as bad as the example quoted above, but as you know even one lost new patient is worth thousands of dollars to your clinic.

How many new patients are you missing out on just from bad calls.

Here are a few current numbers on this issue reported in our industry:

  • 98% of all new patients call on the phone first to schedule.
  • 50% of all lost patients are caused by poor patient handling at the front desk.
  • 79% of all advertising is wasted on leads that don’t convert to new patients

Click here to watch this free webinar.

Do you follow these 12 steps in business?

Here is your chance to see an updated version of my friend Paul Wright’s free webinar entitled “The Practice Acceleration Program – 12 Steps to a Great Health Business in ONLY 42 Days”.

There are 3 different days you can register, go here to find out more:

This presentation outlines the 12 Essential Steps that you DID NOT learn in your university or technical education, but MUST know to be a successful health professional in these trying financial times.

Here’s just a sample of what Paul will cover…

  • The 12 essential steps to a great health business – are you using them?
  • Why failing to use these steps will leave you chained to your business forever.
  • How these steps allowed Paul to run his clinics remotely – in fact he has only visited his six clinics four times in one 10 week period.
  • How your admin team can kill your profits and what to do about it.
  • Actions steps you can implement NOW to make you thousands in lost profits.
  • The importance of cancellation reduction and how to make every treatment session “too important to miss”.
  • How to get your hands on Paul’s exact procedures, scripts, steps and protocols that have taken him 20 years to develop and refine.

Click on the link below to check webinar times and register for this FREE event.