One of the first successful actions I took when I got in my first office was to get out of it.
I had everything arranged inside—the phone system, the appointment book, and the X-ray equipment. So I waited with anticipation and—crickets. Nobody was calling or stopping in.
Looking at my quickly dwindling business checkbook balance, I had to take action to attract patients and do it at low expense.
Remembering one of my mentors saying that a DCs new-patient totals are directly tied to how many people in their community they are communicating with, I grabbed a stack of my business cards, hung a sign on the door, “Be back at 4 p.m.,” locked the door and headed out.
Inherently shy by nature, I pushed beyond my comfort zone and walked into every business surrounding my practice—there were dozens of them. Walking up to the first person in sight I nervously stuck out my hand, “Hello, I’m Tom Potisk, a new chiropractor down the street.”
The responses were mixed, from “I used to see a chiropractor,” to “What is a chiropractor?”
Doing my best to answer their questions, allay their fears, and just aiming to meet the owners and employees of those neighboring businesses, I was communicating. I handed out my business cards and eventually went back to my office with a feeling of accomplishment.
The next day at the office, crickets again.
Putting yourself out there
So, I decided to throw a party. Choosing a common symptom for which patients often visit chiropractors—headaches—I typed up a flyer with the date, time, place, and topic for a presentation at my office. It noted that it was free to the general public, and that they needed to RSVP because space was limited.
Once again, I put up the sign on the door and headed out. This time my approach was, “Hello again. There’s a free presentation at my office,” and “Can you help me let more people know about it?”
This time, the responses were quite different. I heard, “I didn’t know chiropractors can help headaches. Sure, let me have some flyers,” “My daughter gets headaches,” and laughably, “I’ve got a headache, and it’s my husband!”
Now with this I was accomplishing not only communication but some education and, better yet, a non-confrontational invite.
The next day at the office I leaped out of my chair when the phone rang. I practically got on my knees when I heard the words “Can I sign up to come to your headache workshop?”
And so it began. The first in-office workshop had six attendees and two became patients. The next had eight and four became patients. I varied the topics, submitted press releases about the workshops, and polished my presentation skills. Closing the talks was a challenge in itself, but I improved as I went along.
My best response was with a workshop titled, “Natural help for hip and leg pain.” That event drew 12, packing my waiting room and all 12 became patients. I practically danced a jig leaving the office that evening.
I learned several crucial skills delivering those presentations. Things like using common symptoms to attract people and then explaining that chiropractic really does not aim to relieve symptoms but get to the source of the problem, and that stories hold people’s interest much more than facts, figures, or anatomy explanations.
The stories that won their trust and motivated them to become my patients were those about why I became a chiropractor, interesting cases I’ve helped, and how chiropractic is different than the medical care they are used to. I felt authentic teaching like that and they loved it.
Getting out of my office in the beginning of my practice is what built it. In one of B.J. Palmer’s green books he advocates using “shoe leather” to build a new practice. I discovered what he meant.
Tom Potisk, DC, has been called “America’s most successful DC.” He operated a large multi-DC family practice for 25 years and now assists other DCs to grow professionally and personally through his books, products and speaking. He can be contacted through reclaimthejoy.com.