All journeys start with a single step, and every practice begins with the first patient. Here are four ways to bring that all-important first client through your door.
1. Conduct community lectures. Right this minute, someone in charge of preparing next week’s or next month’s program at a local service club is pulling their hair out, wondering who they can get for their next speaker. Why not you?
You’re not a public speaker? No problem. Open with a brief introduction about who you are, where you practice, and why people finally show up in a chiropractic office. List some of the common myths and misconceptions about chiropractic and then open it up for questions.
Make your presentation as interactive as possible (if the size of the group allows it) and have the participants do most of the talking. Facilitate a discussion about the concepts of cause and effect, the nature of true health, and why disease treating wastes valuable time and money.
If the thought of allowing the audience to shape the direction of your talk terrifies you, hold a monologue instead, as this could become your spinal care class. The key point is to get out of your office.
2. Go door to door. You might be nervous about this suggestion to walk your neighborhood. But it can work.
The notion that the patients you want will somehow see your clinic sign as they drive by or will intuitively sense your healing presence and seek you out is unrealistic.
Remember, you’re not going door to door selling products. You’re simply introducing yourself to people, leaving a handout with your photograph, biography, and health attitude, and perhaps asking if they’ve ever tried chiropractic before.
Note their experience with chiropractic and go to the next door. Maybe follow up your visit with a thank-you card and add their name to your newsletter mailing list.
Will some people slam their door in your face? It’s possible.
3. Identify people who need your service. If going door to door made you uncomfortable, tighten your seatbelt! Go to where prospective patients are. Why not spend one day a week visiting the parking lots surrounding hospitals, clinics, and medical buildings.
Leave an informational brochure on windshields, e.g.: “If you’re afraid of surgery or concerned about addictive pain medication, consider a safe, conservative approach first…”
Explain the basic chiropractic approach to the proper functioning of the nervous system. Invite those who are interested to call anonymously with their questions. Create some low-risk opportunities for them to investigate chiropractic.
4. Influence the influencers. In most cities, the real power isn’t in the hands of the mayor or city council. It’s in the whims and ploys of building inspectors, utility permit grantors, and planning officials. These are the real influencers of your community. There are some other influencers you would be wise to nurture: those who sell shoes and those who cut hair.
If you can explain to shoe sellers what you do, and how the effects of abnormal spinal function often show up in uneven shoe wear, they might start to recognize customers who could be potential chiropractic patients. Buying a few pairs of shoes could be cheaper than printing and sending direct mail pieces.
It’s similar with people who cut hair. Not only are they on their feet all day, often bending over sinks and shampooing hair, they also do a lot of talking. They have opinions on just about anything under the sun. Ensure that every place that cuts hair in the vicinity of your office is a supporter of chiropractic.
These are overlooked influencers who, if treated with respect and care, can be powerful allies in motivating others to investigate chiropractic in your office. Again, frequent trims for an opportunity to inform and influence an influencer could be less expensive than a lot of the new patient gimmicks circulating around chiropractic colleges.
These ideas could make you uncomfortable, but each one treats the symptom of a lack of new patients. Once you have a handful of patients receiving care in your office, you should be able to take advantage of the referral process.