Daniel: Welcome to The Future Adjustment: Chiropractic Economics podcast series on what’s new and notable in the world of chiropractic. I’m Daniel Sosnoski, the editor-in-chief of “Chiropractic Economics” and our guest today is Dr. Josh Wagner. He’s a chiropractic coach and trainer, the creator of “The Perfect Patient Funnel System,” a training program for DCs who want to be sought after, respected and referred to in their communities. And he’s also a frequent contributor to “Chiropractic Economics.” In that time, he’s refined a compelling healthcare model that combines chiropractic in an integrated way that points toward the future of medicine. And we’ve asked Dr. Wagner to join us today because he’s known for his original insights on marketing and practice management.
Hey, Dr. Wagner, you’ve talked before about the “Perfect Patient Funnel System,” a system for gaining new patients. Can you just reprise that real briefly for folks who aren’t familiar with it?
Dr. Josh Wagner: Absolutely. So the “Perfect Patient Funnel System” is really a flagship program I developed years ago which is all-encompassing on all aspects of practice, everything from new patient attraction to increasing referral, re-activations, retention, staff training. It’s everything.
Daniel: And the funnel system, for people who aren’t, you know, super marketing savvy, you basically just kind of envision a physical funnel and the widest part of that, the mouth of the funnel, that’s kind of where you’re…people who are sort of interested or aware of you are. And as they get drawn closer and closer to you and are getting closer to committing to becoming one of your patients, they’re moving down through that funnel system. Is that basically right?
Dr. Wagner: Exactly. That’s a way to visualize it and to cater it more to the chiropractor. You know, the age-old practice management paradigm is if someone has a spine and they’re breathing, then they’re a potential patient. And we both know chiropractic is beneficial for anyone and everyone, assuming you checked them and they’ve got subluxation or they’ve got something you can help with. Yet from a marketing and business standpoint especially as insurance is declining and it’s not as easy for patients who don’t have insurance to just come in and get on the bandwagon and become well on the station, there’s gotta be a lot more strategy involved in the marketing. So when I talk about funnels, it’s been very much more targeted on who’s already looking for you, who’s a great candidate for your care, getting your correct message in front of their eyes and ears and creating a pathway for them to crave and want what you’re offering and not thinking that just by going out and standing there with a spine or doing a talk anywhere, you know. It’s not like the ’80s or ’90s where it was a lot easier to attract in a lot more patients. We’ve gotta take it to another level now.
Daniel: Absolutely. And just, you know, from my own reading I know that this is really cutting theory in marketing. There’s books written on it. So as you are kinda describing the “Perfect Patient Funnel System,” I think we were kind of talking about the broader, wider kind of scope there. And now with the perfect patient mastery program that you’ve put together, you’re showing how to convert prospective patients into loyal paying patients. We’re kinda them that last mile, so to speak, through the doorway of your practice. Can you tell me a little about what you’re doing now?
Dr. Wagner: Yeah. Well, actually, instead of it thinking as the last mile, after at least someone becomes aware of you and at least call in and come in for a consult, it’s really the foundation of a practice because if someone doesn’t start your care and they’re obviously not gonna refer to you. They’re not gonna reactivate in the future and they’re not gonna stay along as a patient if they didn’t start in the first place. And this is also what I found is this hidden statistic whereas in the past it’s always been about how many new patients can you attract in a month? Yet if the majority of those new patients aren’t starting care enthusiastically, paying for your care, referring others, that’s the typical leaky bucket syndrome. And it often takes a lot of time, energy and money to get new patients in the door.
So if we’re not converting them to actually paying patients, that’s a huge flaw and it’s sabotaging the practice. So patient mastery is 100% catered if you’re taking the stereotypical, possibly skeptical, nervous, anxious new patient who doesn’t have unlimited insurance benefits and turning them in a consult and a beautifully professional recommendation conversation into a person who’s inspired to reach into their pocket, invest in care, who even though they may have thought insurance was gonna cover everything and hoped it would be and are on board to get the results they’re looking for through a path of care that you recommend. Because if we don’t have that as practitioners now, we’re always gonna be just chasing new patients and practice can get very exhausting and feel like the hamster-in-a-wheel model that way.
Daniel: I hear what you’re saying. I know that. I’ve seen various models of the cost of acquiring one patient and that cost can get high. And so, obviously, the more patients that you can convert and retain, the more efficient your processes are gonna be. I’m kinda wondering, so if you’re trying to get patient investment into your clinic, you know, what are some of the things that you might wanna say to them? And what are some of things that you might want not to say to them?
Dr. Wagner: Good question. So one of the overarching themes is that over the past 30 years there’s been so many scripts developed and new patient processes that’s all catered to trying to get to educate, to convince a new patient to understand what chiropractic is, the value of chiropractic, the spine and the nervous system. And all of that logically makes sense and it’s all good. But once a patient has to reach into their pocket and pay themselves, a whole different scenario takes place. And that’s a much more emotional conversation. When insurance foots the bill, they nod along. They say, “Yeah, I get it. Subluxation.” They’ll read the packet. You know, they’ll say it makes sense and they’ll just keep coming because chiropractic works. It feels good. Most chiropractors are genuine and just really nice people and if they say to keep coming, the patient comes.
Now, as they have to reach into their pocket, when we make it all about educating, it comes off to the patient as selling and convincing. And too often, it could come off like a Timeshare pitch or sale, especially if it’s a long care plan. Now, to be able to switch that, because it’s not about not educating a patient, it’s when and how you do it. And in the beginning, some patients are stressed. They’re most likely in pain. They’re in a sympathetic state. They can’t absorb logical information. There is a time to educate. Once they start seeing symptomatic [SP] improvement in your table talk, in your emails, in your videos, in your lectures that you offer, once they’re already under care. But before they’re under care, the more education that you give more often pushes new patients away from you because they get skeptical thinking, “Wait, I have this back pain or these headaches and this doctor’s trying to get me to understand this whole different paradigm of health and why what he or she does works.” And it causes more skepticism because if you go to the rheumatologist or the cardiologist and you’ve got a concern, and they do their tests, they don’t spend that much time explaining and justifying and getting you to understand the EKG or the EEG.
They’re like, they don’t do that. They just say…they point to it and say, “This is what’s wrong. This is what we’re gonna do to get you, you know, to get you fixed.” And if chiropractors or when chiropractors start to adopt that mentality of not being super…not cutting it short or being so concise that it feels forced but when you focus on what is actually important to the patient and, of course, superficially, it’s gonna be getting rid of the pain, getting the condition solved, but when you dig deeper and you find out how it’s affecting their life. And here’s the big word. What’s missing in their life because they have the subluxation or because they have the pain or because they have the dysfunction or the diagnosis? And you really find out that they can’t get back on the golf course. The relationship with their spouse is impaired. Their sleeping is impaired and their energy is messed up the next day, and that affects their work and their attitude. And when you really, really have a conversation that finds out about what’s important to the patient, and you deliver your recommendations focused more on that than on the spine and the curves and your agenda, you will see much easier patient acceptance, investment and referrals.
And it’s really like… Of course, there’s a proper methodology to do it. But that paradigm shift is absolutely necessary in 2017 going forward when more patients are responsible for their investment in care.
Daniel: Absolutely. And I’ve heard some other thought leaders stress similar messages. You know, maybe we shouldn’t be talking so much about pain and the mechanics of getting you well as much as, you know, so you really would like to go out and play with your granddaughter more and you’d like to go back and be on the golf course with your friends. And here’s how we’re gonna get you there. You know, get the person focused on their goals and their desires .
Dr. Wagner: Right. It’s what I call the patient-centered approach. And that’s why the program is called patient mastery. And it’s the first thing doctors learn inside the “Perfect Patient Funnel System” because, A, if you don’t have the inside of your practice strong, it doesn’t matter how many new patients you attract in if only half of them start up. You know, I was literally on the phone earlier today with a doc considering the program, and he just finished a long coaching program and 50 percent of his new patients start care. And he hardly gets any referrals and it’s like that could so quickly and simply be changed. And if 80 percent to 90 percent of your patients started care and started referring without any more expense on marketing or do anything differently, the same number of new patients, he’d probably double his income and be helping a lot more people right there.
Dr. Wagner: So I’ve been doing two-day trainings quarterly called Patient Mastery and that’s where doctors can get this understanding of how to deliver like a professional, elegant, inspiring new patient consult and recommendation conversation.
Daniel: Speaking of that new patient consult, I guess the beginning of that consult is really a key point. Any tips for managing that first contact that you have with the patient?
Dr. Wagner: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll walk you through the first few steps because, again, what chiropractors are often told is, you know, pull out the spine. Tell them, “This is what we do here. It’s not about your symptoms. It’s not about your pain. It’s about chiropractic and subluxation.” And even though that may be true, that turns people off. It gets them to shut down because people wanna be heard. And so to initially connect with the patient, obviously establish some kind of rapport. How did they find you? How long have you been in the community? How long have they been in the community? You know, let them know. And whether you just moved and started a practice or you’ve been there 30 years, let them know why you chose that community. And most likely it’s a good reason so they might… “You know what? I chose this reason because this is where I love raising my family there in this community.” And it just transfers over that they’re a good part of the community.
And then I go right into what I call leadership statements which is super, super valuable. And it establishes you as leading the visit. So I practice them [inaudible 00:12:28] and it’s very easy to… In Manhattan, everyone’s in a rush and everyone wants to interject, and people will just start and kind of word vomit all over the place. And all of a sudden, they’re leading the conversation. And it’s not a great position, if you’re the doctor and you’re gonna be giving recommendations if the patient feels like they’re in-charge. So gently and professionally, let the patient know, “Mary, this is how the visit’s gonna go today. I’m gonna listen to everything you have to say,” which by the way is very rare for a doctor to do or a patient to hear so just saying that calms them and puts them at ease. “I’m gonna listen to everything you have to say. If at any point I feel there’s someone else better suited to get the goals you’re looking for, I’m gonna let you know who that is.” So right there, you’re coming off as un-needy. It’s not that you’re hard selling them and, hopefully, you’re being honest. If you really think there’s someone else better for that patient in the community, you let them know.
Daniel: That sounds like they’re a long way towards winning over patient trust.
Dr. Wagner: Absolutely. So you’re coming off as un-needy, more trustworthy. And then after a series of questions, if I feel I can help you, we can proceed with an exam. And just starting off with those first few lines, you will see patient shoulders relax, their face soften up because a lot of patients have skepticism coming into a chiropractor either from past experiences or unfortunately all the negative media attention that we’re getting more and more lately. And it’s probably not gonna stop. So to separate yourself from their preconceived notions to start off a consult like that, you will take leadership without being forceful and create more trustworthiness. And what I love hearing about is docs who tell me patients start referring to them just after the consult. Before they even get their first adjustment, before they start seeing results, and without, of course, ever even having to ask for a referral because patients want other people to experience what they just experienced which is what I call the most unique doctor consult they’ll ever go through. And that’s what gets me excited hearing those kind of results.
Daniel: Well, that sounds inspiring. And I think if you get off on the right foot everything is definitely gonna be easier after that. In addition to what we’ve talked about today, do you have anything new that you’re working on? Are there any areas that you’re exploring in addition to what we’ve talked about?
Dr. Wagner: Good question. So there’s always with the…everything’s changing online and Facebook getting so much more influential. There is more material going into the program, cater to Facebook exposure, Facebook marketing, advertising. Depending on where you are in the country and how you do it, it’s become a very, very strong and cost-effective medium for attracting the new patients which then, of course, you can use the communication with and then it’s a win-win. So that would be the latest of what’s available for most chiropractors to have a look into.
Daniel: Very good. And we’re definitely on-board with you there. We’re starting to look more at Facebook targeted ads, geo-fenced ads and showing our readership how to do that. So, hopefully, early on in 2018 maybe you can share some of your insights with our readers in that regard. Well, I do wanna thank you.
Dr. Wagner: Absolutely.
Daniel: Okay. Well, hey, thank you so much for spending some time with us today, Dr. Wagner. This has been quite informative and you’ve given us an exciting new look at The Future Adjustment. I’m Dan Sosnoski. See you next time. Thanks, Dr. Wagner.
Dr. Wagner: Thanks. Thanks, Daniel.
Daniel: Cheers. Bye