What strategies do you really need to focus on to build a bigger and more profitable practice this year?
Most chiropractic coaches and consultants have a specific “thing” they want you to work on. Many want you to work on your “report of findings” procedures. (In fact, most chiro coaches I had spent 90% of their time on ROF’s.) Others focus on retention and patient education.
But when you look at the big picture, there are really only 5 ways to make your practice more profitable in 2009. Small changes in even one of these 5 can make a huge difference in your practice. Change all 5 just 10% and you will see a doubling or even tripling of your practice this year.
1. More New Patients. Sounds simple right. Everyone knows you need more new patients to grow. Yet as simple as it sounds, it’s much more difficult to actually do. Old, rehashed marketing from the Mercedes 80’s is no longer working and many competitive areas make it difficult to market in. However, with laser targeted marketing you can still see huge return on investments. I gave you my 7 major new patient strategies in the last blog post, which you can see by clicking here.
If getting new patients is so important, why aren’t more consultants and coaches giving you tools to make this easier? (Read my recent rant about this entitled “Chiropractic Coaches: Where’s the beef?“)
#2. Better conversions. Once the new patients are in the door, now you have to convert them to some type of recommended care plan. The conversion process in chiropractic starts from the moment they call your office until the day they agree to a care plan and start paying you. Of the “5 Ways to Grow Your Practice” listed, this is the one that gets 90% of the attention in chiropractic circles. Go to any seminar and you’ll see days spent on how to do consultations, exams and reports. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very important to have a good conversion process, but it is just 1/5 of the equation. Plus, I believe many of the larger “coaching groups” make the conversion process way more complicated than need be (and thereby less effective and more stressful than is necessary.)
#3. Increase the average $/visit. My first two years in practice, I felt like I was collecting good money per visit by converting patients to long term care plans. But one day I woke up and found out I was only collecting $17 per visit on average. No wonder I was about to go out of business. I was infuriated! After 2 years and $20,000 spent on coaching, plus pages of statistics compiled every month, why had I not been taught to look at this number before. Of course the fault was mine, but I never made that mistake again. Within 3 months I was collecting $57 average per visit. Eventually it got up to and stayed around $85-95 per visit.
**Here’s how you figure it. Take all your monthly collections and divide by the number of total visits you see (yes, even those “scholarships”). Ask yourself if you’re happy with that. Ask yourself if it truly values chiropractic. And if you have a coach and he hasn’t made you figure this, you really need to ask yourself why he would ignore such an important number from you.**
#4. Increase the number of visits per patient. You might call this retention or PVA (patient visit average). Many doctors will read this one and think it’s taken care of in step #2. “More conversions” above. However, we both know what you recommend a patient do and what they really do are two different things. That’s not being negative, that’s reality. And the sooner we face reality, the sooner we can do something about it. So, what can you do to ensure that patients follow through with their care plans and maintenance. Patient education? Sure, that’s important. But if you’ve read this blog for very long, you know I like specific action steps…Not broad generalizations like “You need to do more patient education!” or “You have to have more passion, energy and drive!” To increase the number of visits a patient has, you must have a good internal marketing plan where you communicate and build relationships with your patients.
Here are two articles where I gave 8 internal marketing strategies…
#5. Lower expenses. It’s not how much you collect in practice but what you take home that counts. This often overlooked strategy is rarely mentioned at any of the chiropractic seminars I’ve attended. However, it can make a huge difference in your bottom line. Other than taking home more money, by lowering your unnecessary expenses you can have more to spend on marketing. Are you carrying too much debt in your practice? (I recommend the Dave Ramsey plan for wiping out debt.) Spending too much on employees that don’t work? Blowing money on useless marketing that doesn’t produce? Paying too much (aren’t we all) in taxes?
Yes, this is a touchy subject, after all “No one has a right to tell me what to do with my money!” Maybe that’s why it’s not discussed at seminars. But, by cutting out the “fat”, your practice will be a lean, mean profitable machine.