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How to Get All the New Patients You Can Handle

By Dennis Perman, DC

Many doctors believe that if they could just get enough new patients, they would have a successful practice. However, things don’t really work that way. Doctors tend to find their level of practice, consistent with the way they think and act, regardless of new patient flow.

New patients come from you, not to you, based on your identity and your sense of self. If you see yourself as a new patient magnet, you’ll get more new patients; and if you work at mastering the skills of new patient communication, you will improve your results even more.

The themes of “being” and “doing” are at the core of every success and fulfillment formula, so to get the most out of new patient tools, you must develop the beliefs, values, and behaviors of those who are outstanding at new patient acquisition.

To begin the process of unlimited new patient attraction, decide how many new patients you want. Now think, can you handle that number? You must begin with a sense of certainty that you can achieve this goal. Choose a number you believe you can reach, but ambitious enough to motivate you to go for it.

Put It in Writing
Next, do this simple marketing calendar exercise. Draw a box about three inches square on a pad, and write the name of this month at the top. In the upper right-hand corner, write your goal for new patients, and circle it. Let’s say your goal is 20.

In the box, write the various new patient-generating activities you already have planned for the month. For example, if you give a weekly health-care class, write 4HCC in the box (four health-care classes). How many new patients do you usually get from a new patient orientation talk? If you get an average of one per class, write a 4 to the right of 4HCC, and circle it.

What else do you have planned this month? Asking for referrals is part of most chiropractors’ daily routine, so if you do this, write ASK in the box, and estimate how many new patients you expect to get by asking for referrals. If you expect to get about two per week, write an 8 next to ASK and circle it.
What else do you have planned this month? So far, you have enough new patient-generating activities to attract about 12 new patients, so if your goal is 20, you’re going to need some more action steps. Continue writing activities you are willing to do in the box, until the circled numbers add up to at least your goal, and maybe a little more, to be on the safe side.
Strike a balance between in-office and out-of-office activities that produce the blend of new patients you desire, activities like networking with other professionals, lectures and presentations, public-relations promotions, and inter-referral relationships with merchants and other services in your area.
At the end of each month, tally up your new-patient statistics, and see how close you get with your estimates. Don’t judge your results; learn from them. If your marketing activities generate the right number of the right kind of new patients, congratulations! Now all you have to do is serve them well, and you’re that much closer to your ideal practice.
If you don’t get the number or type of new patients you want - or you simply want to build on your success - the following ideas can help improve your results.

Target Your Ideal Patient
If you find you are attracting enough new patients, but they are not the “quality” you would choose, you may need to refine your marketing.
Here are some simple steps that will tell you “How To Target Your Ideal Patient”:
• Identify your ideal patients. Develop a model of your favorite types of patients, by age, gender, condition, method of compensation, or any other desirable or undesirable characteristics.
• Locate your ideal patients. For example, young families are in schools, parent-teacher organizations, camps, pediatricians’ offices, parenting groups, religious and ethnic groups, and many workplaces; seniors are in adult homes, hobby clubs and gerontologists’ offices; athletes are in health clubs, gyms and martial arts studios; and wellness patients are in health-food stores, bookstores, and special-interest clubs. Figure out where higher concentrations of “your” ideal patients can be found.
• Increase your visibility in those locations. Join the health club or special interest group yourself, or send your patients there. Make referrals to specialists who serve the clientele you like. Write articles or columns for their newsletters. Do talks or sponsor promotions there. Create a presence for yourself where your ideal patients tend to be.
• Close effectively. Once you have identified and located your ideal patients, and gotten them to notice you, you need to engage them in conversation and help them make a good decision about exploring your services. Base your communication on perceived value and benefits they will enjoy and consequences they will avoid by being your patient. Write and role-play scripts so you know the beliefs, values, and selling points for your ideal patients. Become skillful at getting to yes.
• Tailor your office procedures and policies to meet their needs. If you like treating high-powered business people, don’t sit them in front of a 40-minute video. If you like seniors, don’t plan for a two-minute office visit. If you want children, don’t place a lot of fancy art collectibles on low surfaces; go with a kids’ corner with games, puzzles, and books or a computer, and put the art on the walls, or on high shelves. Think about who you are aiming your service at, and customize your office procedures to satisfy, please, and enthuse them.

Focus on Your Marketing Calendar
If you are happy with the quality of the patients you are attracting but you want more of them, you may need to add activities in your marketing calendar. There are dozens of options, depending on the ideal patients you target, but the high-return techniques tend to require direct communication between you and an individual or a group. Some of these marketing programs will take place inside your office, and others will be out-of-office.

Here are two sure-fire marketing ideas, one for internal marketing, and one for external:
• Inside your office: The “Three-a-Day” Game - Inside your office, you can get a tremendous yield for the time and energy invested when you learn to play a simple new patient game called the “Three-a-Day” Game. When you arrive at your office each morning, select three patients from your schedule who will be your Three-a-Day players for the day. (Put yellow sticky-notes on their card or file to remind you.)

You can talk about the value of chiropractic to your patients all day if you like, but you only get to “close” with three patients per day. So it’s important to pick the right people and make those opportunities count, with focus and passion.

Some of you may be thinking, “Only three times each day?”, while others may be thinking, “I have to confront people three times a day?” Either way, don’t worry, the more you play the game, the easier it is to understand why these issues don’t turn out to matter much in the long-run.

For example, if you tend to be more assertive and would prefer to ask more than three people each day, first think about the results you can reasonably expect. If you ask three times, five office days each week, that’s 15 times each week and about 60 times per month. About what percentage of the time do you anticipate a referral? Twenty percent? That would be three additional new patients per week, or about 12 per month. Thirty-three percent? That would net you 20 additional new patients each month, and you don’t have to spend a nickel or take one step outside your office. This method of new patient acquisition takes only a few extra minutes each day.

For those of you who dread this kind of direct confrontation, look at it this way - you are hand-picking your three favorite patients for the day, the ones you feel most comfortable with and who are most likely to respond to you. Who better to ask for support, and a demonstration of their confidence?

The Three-a-Day game is a consistency game. Commit to playing it for 90 days, and watch what happens in your practice. As you play more regularly, you’ll become more skillful, and your batting average will improve. It’s okay to be creative - use props, a story-of-the-day, questions about family, friends and co-workers... whatever you can think of to keep it fun and entertaining, so you look forward to playing every day.

• Out of office: Public speaking - The most productive out-of-office new patient tool is public speaking, preferably to target audiences with high concentrations of ideal patients. Cultivate relationships with groups in your area that would be responsive to your message, whether based on wellness, fitness, lifestyle, or some condition-based approach.

Polish your presentation skills, and develop several talks you can roll out for various types of audiences. As in one-on-one communication, learn to close effectively, so people are motivated to take action, and you can welcome them into your practice for services that are well-suited to their needs.

As you learn to shape your marketing calendar months or a year in advance, you’ll catch the rhythm of each season or time period, based on holidays you can link promotions to, times of year when certain people arrive or vacate, and idiosyncrasies of each area, all of which can be a source of new patient flow if you plan properly.By using this marketing calendar concept, you can monitor your new patient results over time, and intensify or relax your efforts as needed to build your practice in the way that pleases you most.

Dr. Perman is co-founder of The Masters Circle, a personal and professional development company dedicated to helping chiropractors find success through practice mastery and personal growth. The Masters Circle provides seminars, coaching, teleclasses, and audiovisual support materials. Dr. Perman
can be reached at 800-451-4514; or sign on to www.themasterscircle.com.


 
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