It’s a fact of life: gone are the days when we could rely on our individual reputations alone to get a steady flow of patients through the door. Sure, reputation is important and nothing beats the age-old combination of expertise coupled with great rapport to ensure that our patients keep coming back to us. Indeed, referrals will always have a part to play in building any successful chiropractic practice.
The fact is; relying on referrals is rarely going to be enough for your business to prosper. If your appointment book is full of empty slots lately, then that’s a problem you need to address quickly.
We live in ‘interesting times’ as far as chiropractic marketing is concerned. As a chiropractor myself, I know all too well how the landscape has changed over the last few years. As if you need reminding, a quick glance in your local newspaper and a search on the internet will reveal the details of many other practitioners in your local area. The reality is that this trend is only going to escalate as time goes on as more and more practitioners graduate from chiropractic college.
If that wasn’t enough, we’ve also got the ever-present challenge of competition from practitioners from other disciplines who would gladly take their pick from our patient-base.
I know that most of us are carers not marketers. Treating patients is what comes natural and it’s all too easy to get it wrong when it comes to all the marketing our practice.
I’d like to tell you the story of a highly competent chiropractor who I’m going to name the Ostrich. This guy was a talented chiropractor; a recent graduate with a network of patients he’d built up – mostly through his network of friends and through his gym. He was so successful that the time quickly came to open his own office. Why spend money on advertising when the business had grown so well through word of mouth? His was the philosophy shared by many chiropractors just starting out. The problem was he opened shop just as many of his first patients were coming to the end-stages of their treatment programs. Most of his patients were in the maintenance phase of their care and there weren’t a whole bunch of new patients on the horizon! Meanwhile with rent to be paid (on top of insurance and all of the other commitments we all face), the Ostrich was in trouble.
So what’s gone wrong in this scenario?
It’s simple: this guy’s made the classic mistake of assuming that a chiropractic practice can grow solely through word of mouth. The reality is that he had quite a few contacts among a network of people who occasionally needed short bursts of treatment for acute complaints. Those patients went away happy (and sure, they’re going to recommend the Ostrich – most likely to other people in the same network with the same type of injury) but this isn’t yet a profitable business.
Can this guy’s practice be rescued? Most definitely. What he shouldn’t do though is to go in totally the opposite direction and throw money at the problem blindly. What he needs is a marketing strategy. The moral is not to stick your head in the sand when it comes to marketing. Click here to see my model marketing plan and to find out how you can achieve real growth.