From tired to wired

Following these six integrated steps to practice growth can have strong, fast payoffs for your business.

By John Luginbill

The movie Field of Dreams coined an interesting phrase: “Build it and they will come.” This strategy worked well in attracting baseball’s deceased players in the movie. However, it is no marketing strategy for today’s chiropractor.

The truth is that it takes focused effort to develop a thriving practice. While you might think there are no easy ways to quickly build a profitable practice, that isn’t true. Consider the following six ways to more than triple the size of your practice in less than three years.

1. Spend money to make money. A classic concept in business is that you must invest to make a profit. This axiom also holds true for chiropractors. If you don’t invest in marketing, you will not build your patient volume.

How much you should spend varies by practice, but as a guideline, when building your practice consider spending up to 25 percent of your income on marketing. Once you have reached a comfortable level of weekly intake, you can reduce your marketing investment to 10 percent.

If that sounds like a lot to spend on marketing, remember that it is not what you spend, but what you make on what you spend. Why wouldn’t you spend a dollar if you knew you were going to make three back? Now, how do you make this return on what you budget?

2. Choose the business you want wisely. Marketing works best when it is both specific and targeted. Tell potential patients exactly what kind of business you want.

Since patients relate to descriptions of the symptoms that they have and not the diagnosis, use their words to describe their symptoms and be specific. If you want decompression patients, for instance, your marketing efforts should tell prospective patients about your treatment for the symptoms they are feeling.

Before you go after new patients, analyze your practice by asking yourself three questions:

What do I have the greatest capacity to do? What do I make the most money doing? What gives me the most energy, and what do I love doing and am great at doing?

3. Master the media mix, message, and movement. Understanding and mastering the following “three M’s” will put you on a track to success:

Media mix: It takes a combination of marketing methods to drive business. Don’t spend all your money in one place, whether online, social media, newspapers, events and seminars, direct mail, personal injury/attorney programs, or internal referral programs.

If you only can do two things, try a social media program and a referral program. Do both well to attract a lot of new business.

Message: Keep your marketing messages symptom specific so a prospective patient can personally relate to your services.

Movement: Make sure your prospective patients have a clear path to make an appointment. It may be a phone number, a Web address that leads to an easy-to-fill-out form, or an RSVP card.

Make it simple and easy for a patient to contact you. Remember that opt-in marketing is not optional. There must always be an easy way for a prospect to give you their contact information and get added to your marketing database.

4. Manage your reputation. Nowadays, no one under the age of 70 will come to your office without first investigating you online. It is essential that you manage your reputation by reducing your negative ratings and growing your positive ones.

Use a listening platform and a social media system, such as RepuChek or Reputation.com, to do this. Some are made specifically for doctors, but there are many other systems that can monitor what other people are saying about you and your practice. You must take control of the discussion, and it is easier to do than you think.

5. Capitalize on the co-risks. Become comfortable with the concept of up-selling. When a patient comes in, he or she may need additional services, but you must take the time to ask. The time to “sell” patients is when they are in your office and willing to take care of their health.

Actively look for new ways to help every patient and they will become more profitable and more likely to become avid referral sources.

6. Measure and report key metrics. While it is true that what is measured grows, what is measured and reported grows exponentially. In fact, in addition to measuring, make sure your whole team knows the numbers they are expected to hit each week, month, and quarter.

To do this, you must know the value of each new client. If each patient is worth an average of $1,000, and one in 10 patients refers other patients, then a new patient is really worth $1,100 (because there is a 10-percent chance of his or her referring a new patient). Once you and your team understand this and it is “reported” to the team regularly, they can focus on getting innovative about improving referrals.

For example: If your team can improve the referral rate from one-in-10 to one-in- three, every new patient will be worth $1,333. That is an increase in patients and revenue of more than 20 percent just by making a game out of referrals with your team.

Finally, if you do these six things a few hours a week, your practice could triple in less than three years. Even better, your practice will be more profitable and fulfilling because you will be bringing in the business you want.

John Luginbill is the founder and CEO of The Heavyweights, an agency that offers a marketing process that helps healthcare practitioners achieve rapid growth without breaking the bank. He can be reached at john@theheavyweights.com or through his blog at www.turnupyourvolume.com.

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