Have you ever been told you shouldn’t have to “go out” and get new patients? You just needed to “plug the holes in your leaky bucket” or get more referrals?
This is a lie peddled by some chiropractic consultants, coaches and gurus in our profession. And its very frustrating to think of how I struggled in years past, and others out there are struggling, as a result of this lie.
Why We Fall For It
Well, it’s no secret that chiropractors lack good business and marketing training in school. We all want to build that low stress, high income, self-sustaining-referral-only practice.
Plus, many of us have tried (and been burned) by bad marketing in the past. So the belief that you don’t need to market for new patients outside your practice sounds great.
Also, “who wants to spend money on marketing when you can get referrals for free?”
The Reality of A Chiropractic Practice
I’ll agree, not having to spend time and money marketing to new patients sounds like a good idea. But this type of thinking ignores 2 very important things…
#1. Not every patient you have is going to refer. Not even 50% of them will refer. If 20% of your patients refer that’s exceptionally well.
(That’s one patient out of every 5 referring someone in.)
#2. Most patients will not stay with you for life. (Even if a coach convinces you that his system will have them stay for years, and all his doctors have a PVA (patient visit average) of 998 visits.) That’s just human nature. Do most people stay at the same job all their life? Drive the same car? Live in the same house? Sure, some do. But my point is most do not.
So if only 10-15% of our patients are going to refer, and the majority of your patients won’t stay with you forever…how are you going to grow your practice?
The Truth About New Patient Marketing
Here’s the truth about growing your practice that most chiropractic coaches and consults will never tell you…
Attracting new patients is the most important element of a successful practice. It’s ‘numero uno’! Nothing else compares to it — not procedures, not office flow, not report of findings, not retention, not education.
If it’s so important, why do chiropractic coaches not provide easy-to-implement tools to help you bring in more new patients?
Because most chiropractic consultants are still two decades behind in their marketing strategies!
What you need are new marketing strategies that your prospective patients haven’t seen before and that connect to them on their level. Things like email messages, blogs, newspaper ads with emotion (and without the hype), direct mail letters with empathy, etc.
These are what I’ll be spending 2009 focusing on. What about you?
Before I go, I do want to state that referrals are important. And they are much easier to get than most chiropractors make it out to be. But you still want to be marketing as much as possible outside your practice.
Think about it for just a minute.
Do you personally know a chiropractor that never spends a dime on marketing, internally or externally, and only gets new patients from referrals? And I’m not talking about for just one month, but month after month, year after year.
I have heard quite a few doctors say this…”Most of my patients are coming from referrals. I’m going to kick back on spending money on marketing.” Then the next 3 months the referrals dry up. Why? Because most referrals come from new patients in their first 2-4 weeks.
So the more new patients you bring in through outside marketing, the more you get referrals internally. Now that is reality and it can be accomplished in your practice.
This is blog post #4 in a five part series entitled “5 Lies Chiropractic Coaches Tell“. You can read the first 3 parts here, here and here. Here’s what some readers have said about this series so far…
It’s great to know that I was not the only one who thought some of the coaching stuff wasn’t on target for how I wanted to practice. Excellent article. Thanks — Steve
Excellent. Fell for them all. I don’t mind so much, I needed very basic biz training. It served it’s purpose.
Love what you are doing here…. — Jeff
It took me the biggest part of 29 years and going through at least 10 management firms to affirm everything Dr. Beck is saying is TRUE. Listen up people! This guy’s been around the block and knows what’s around the next corner. Everything he’s saying is 100% on target.– Jack
Having seen all of the different groups over the past thirty years you are right on. Growth in practice depends more on effective marketing in my opinion than most any thing else.–Rick