I often think, “What if I had to start a practice again today?”
After running my own practice for 27 years, coaching hundreds of doctors, and seeing the good, bad and the ugly, how would I begin again, incorporating what I’ve learned about clinical and business success? I offer three critical steps to hit the ground running.
Create a vision
Begin with the end in mind.
Success in practice is all about helping patients solve problems. What problems do you want to help people solve? In health care, there are many different challenges that you can help patients address. Do you want to help parents create healthier children?
Do you want to work with athletes to prevent injuries and improve athletic performance? Do you want to work with people who are suffering with musculoskeletal problems such as back pain, neck pain, headaches and shoulder issues?
Or do you want to work with people who are suffering from chronic diseases? There is no right or wrong here. Don’t live somebody else’s dream. What excites you when you think about who you want to work with?
Answering these questions will create a vision for your practice. Once you know who you want to help and why you want to help them, you can envision how you will help them and the services and tools you’ll need.
Create a Hedgehog Concept
The Hedgehog Concept is from Jim Collins’s popular book Good to Great, and it aims to answer three important questions. First, what are you passionate about?
I’m extremely passionate about teaching people the chiropractic healthy lifestyle. I know that our office can be the best at helping people implement a chiropractic-based lifestyle program that will get them extremely healthy and measure their results.
Second, what can you be the best in the world at? Be specific here. If you can’t be the best in the world at what you are doing and what problems you will help patients solve, then there is no sense starting your practice.
Third, what drives the economic engine in your practice? You can be passionate and be the best in the world at what you do, but if you can’t drive revenue and profit, you will go out of business quickly. Does your passion and clinical model of practice make sense financially? Can you make money and lots of it?
The two-month program in our practice isn’t cheap, and the average patient spends more over the course of a year, generating a profit after the overhead is paid. It drives our economic engine. The typical patient is getting adjustments, massage, supplements, work with functional movement specialists, and sessions with a nutrition coach.
We generate three times the revenue from these patients compared to our “chiropractic-only” patients. They pay, stay and refer because they get outstanding results.
Create a marketing plan
Your clinical practice model is your “message.” However, if you don’t have a well-designed marketing plan, then your message lacks a megaphone to amplify your message.
Your marketing plan lets your target market know who you are, what you do, and how you can help people address their health challenges. Consider getting some help here.
Focus on three areas: First, referrals. When patients get results above and beyond what they expect, they tell and refer others; so focus on getting great results and providing an exceptional patient experience.
Second, outside talks. You can create a niche here. Put together a series of wellness and health talks you can give in places such as corporations, schools, and civic organizations.
Get comfortable speaking and presenting in and out of your office, and give yourself lots of opportunities for practice. Would you rather get new patients one at a time or ten at a time? Speaking puts you in front of groups of people.
Lastly, you want to get really good at social media. Your home page, Facebook page and ads, Google Ads, blogs, email campaigns, and so forth can be amazing drivers of new patients if you know how to use them properly.
For those of you getting ready to start your practice, or already in your first year of practice, I wish you happiness as you face the challenges of running a practice, and succeeding at your business, too.
Dane Donohue, DC, is the cofounder of 8 Weeks to Wellness, a national in-office wellness program now offered in more than 25 centers around the country. Along with his twin sister, he runs one of the largest multimillion-dollar, cash-based wellness centers in the country. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-968-1661.