You or your front desk staff has probably dealt with these types of phone calls time and again.
They are usually the ones from people who call to ask about the price for “just a back adjustment” or explain that they “only need one visit.” If you try to get more information, such as the nature of their injury, their type of insurance or if they have undergone chiropractic care previously, they will either mumble a quick excuse and hang up, or reluctantly make an appointment for which they will invariably be a no show.
You and your staff may refer to these callers as “chiro shoppers,” because it soon becomes obvious that if you cannot immediately provide them the answers they want, they will simply cross your name out and move on to call the next chiropractor on their list. These chiro shoppers can feel like a waste of time for both you and your staff.
As frustrating as these calls may seem, what if you could turn those shoppers into actual patients who not only show up for that initial appointment, but become regular patients who come to understand the benefits that chiropractic can offer them?
With some understanding of what may motivate these chiro shoppers and some changes to your phone scripts, you actually could lure in those shoppers as real patients.
Why do people chiro shop?
Understanding why people are chiro shopping in the first place is a large part of learning how to overcome their reluctance to commit to care. It can be all too easy to dismiss these people out of hand, but that can be a major mistake.
Instead, take a few minutes to consider chiropractic from their perspective.
For many people, chiropractic is the treatment of last resort. Odds are good that they have already been to numerous other doctors and tried many other treatments, none of which has brought them any relief. They may have heard rumors from friends and family members that chiropractic is not effective or even dangerous.
Given all of this, is it any wonder that they may be reluctant, but desperate when they call?
In other cases, it may be more related to insurance issues. They may want to know if you are within their insurance network or even take their insurance. Once a patient knows that you are not in their treatment network, they will move on until they find a chiropractor who is.
Alternately, that chiro shopper’s insurance may not cover for chiropractic care, or they may not have insurance at all. This would easily explain why they want to know the cost up front for just one visit.
How to get past that initial hurdle
Whether due to trepidation or insurance issues, you and your staff must still get past that hurdle of that first phone call with your chiro shopper. Depending on which category they fall into, you have two approaches to consider in overcoming that hurdle.
For the reluctant caller, the key solution is to put their mind at ease about what chiropractic can do. You or your staff might try attempting to engage them by letting them know that you understand that they have tried other options, to no avail, and are very cautious about chiropractic.
In fact, you might even consider having their first visit simply be a consultation, in which you do nothing but explain exactly what chiropractic is and how it works. Taking that first visit to do nothing but provide them with information may go a long way toward easing their fears.
For those prospective patients who may be shopping around due to insurance concerns, you may want to consider setting up a simple, flat-fee payment schedule that is comparable to what you might expect for insurance payments. This will allow you and your staff to tell patients that while you don’t take their insurance or are not in their network, you do offer cash visits at a set price that is comparable to what it would cost under insurance.
Another option would be using a discount medical plan organization or DMPO. It is a membership that you can offer your patients for an annual fee that discounts many chiropractic expenses. These types of programs make it legal to offer patients a discount on cash services.
This has the benefit of allowing you and your staff to provide patients with a straightforward answer to their question about cost for a visit and shows that you are taking their concerns about cash payments into consideration.
There’s no question that chiro shoppers can be frustrating. You and your staff want to have all those inquiries turn into paying patients who return on a regular patient. However, with a bit of thought and changes to your scripts and visit structures, you can make that happen more often.