Have you ever tried to slash your way to financial success by cutting expenses? While keeping overhead costs down is an important goal, there is only so far you can go before you’re working alone, in a place that no one would dare visit. An alternative approach is to add revenue to your “top line” by adding ancillary products and services that don’t require additional hours or employees.
Two Types of Income: Active and Passive
There are two types of income: active and passive. Generating active income requires the direct participation of the doctor in patient care and includes activities such as performing examinations, reading films, and providing adjustments. Passive income represents all other situations in which revenue is generated without the doctor’s direct involvement, such as selling orthotics or nutritional supplements.
To highlight the differences between the active and passive generation of income, consider a typical preventive care visit to the dentist. Before leaving, you will have likely had a set of X-rays, a thorough cleaning, and a quick exam and consultation with the dentist. But in the hour or so spent in the office, how much time will have been spent face-to-face with the doctor? Probably not more than five minutes, unless there’s a problem. The rest of the time, the doctor’s staff will have performed the time-intensive tasks (passive income generation) that free the doctor’s time for more complex procedures (active income generation).
Of course, the dentist could take his or her own films or clean the patient’s teeth, but delegating allows the provider to act as the director and inspector of all the work being done.
An important aspect of passive revenue generation is making sure your staff is working at capacity. Ask your staff to watch your activities during a busy day and list two revenue-generating activities they could fulfill without adding to the workday or interfering with their current duties. Most employees enjoy greater responsibilities because it generally means greater job satisfaction and job security.
If your staff is at less-than-full capacity, consider adding additional products and services that don’t require attracting additional patients. In other words, sell to the people already under your care who could benefit from additional offerings. Some of the revenue-generating products and services you could consider providing include: orthotics, nutritional analysis and supplements, weight-management products and counseling, cervical pillows, cold packs and postural supports. You should focus on providing products and services in your office that will serve as useful adjuncts to your patients’ care.
The Crucial Step
Once you have decided which additional products and services you would like to provide, you need to carefully consider how you are going to market them to your patients. This step is very crucial, because you do not want to make your patients feel like your primary goal is to profit from selling them something. You need to clearly communicate to your patients how the ancillary products and services you are providing will enhance their chiropractic care. Of course, any practice-building adjunct must help the patient and the doctor.
You need to find those products and services that complement your concept of chiropractic care, without detracting from your primary focus of removing interference.
Be Consistent and Logical
The key to selling any adjuncts is to present the products and services in a consistent and logical way. Presentation begins with the first patient encounter. All of your marketing and advertising should include information on the ancillary products and services you offer. Also, consider putting information about these products on an “on-hold” message.
Once inside your practice, patients should see samples of the products and services you offer. It is important to balance both general educational materials with specific benefits and promotions. This subtle introduction to your adjuncts will often generate sales, referrals, and comments like, “I didn’t know chiropractors could help with _______.”
Each stage of the patient visit should also direct patients toward a treatment plan tailored for their specific needs and concerns. In addition to questions about the primary complaint, your intake forms should ask general questions about your patients’ diet, work, sleeping habits, etc. Most patients will assume if you are asking these questions, it’s likely you will have solutions for problems related to the inquiries.
Report of Findings
Are you currently giving a report of your exam findings? Ever wonder if you’re really reaching your patients and motivating them to accept your treatment plan? Realize that this five- to 10-minute one-on-one experience with the patient is critical to your success. This is your opportunity to further establish rapport and credibility, answer questions, and inspire people to ask for your help.
The report is the perfect opportunity to reinforce your use of orthotics, pillows and other supports or adjuncts. During the initial exam, you should ask questions about the patient’s daily activities, including work environment, posture, exercise and diet. Before X-rays are taken, you should explain your desire to see the effects of these daily activities on the patient’s physical structure. During the entire exam process, patients begin to realize that a chiropractor leaves very few rocks unturned when it comes to improving health.
All your communications with the patient should reinforce the relationship of structure to function and health, and remind the patient that chiropractic is the means to improve all three.
When showing a patient his or her films, remember that everyone knows the difference between a straight and a curved line. To illustrate your findings, you can draw a line connecting the femur heads or a vertical line connecting spinous processes, which draws attention to pelvic unleveling and lateral spinal curvatures. You can then simply point to any crooked lines and correlate them with the patient’s complaints. At the same time, you can explain to the patient that the problems you may have found in their feet or the way they sleep may directly contribute to the crooked lines.
The next step in the report of findings should be to outline your treatment schedule and have the patient commit to following through with care. Whether it’s adjustments and orthotics, cervical pillows, rehabilitative exercises or nutritional support, patients expect to be told exactly what they need to do to improve their health.
The most important thing you will have done during your report of findings is demonstrate your genuine concern and your confidence in providing answers and relief. There is nothing wrong with telling your patients about the best you have to offer (this will include your chiropractic care plus any necessary adjuncts), and then letting them choose the aspects they consider valuable. Part of the responsibility then falls on their shoulders for the outcomes they can anticipate. If your ancillary products and services are well-marketed and you and your staff make sure to educate the patient about different options, the patient will either accept the adjuncts immediately, or may end up accepting your best care at a later date.
Offering additional products and services is a great way to add revenue without having to recruit as many new patients. It is important that you make sure the products and services you provide serve as an effective complement to your patients’ chiropractic care. With careful consideration and solid marketing techniques, including additional products and services in your practice can help both you and your patients.