When it comes to building a practice, the basic principles are easy: you need to bring in more new patients, keep the ones you have, or do both. Often, though, that’s easier said than done.
The reason some doctors can’t get and keep as many patients as they would like is that sometimes there are “holes” in their practices. When you have new patients coming in, but an equal or greater number of established patients leaving, you can’t grow. These holes can include poor efficiency, poor financial and appointment policies, no confrontational skills on the part of the doctor or the staff, no follow-up, etc.
There is one word and one solution you need to close the majority of the holes in anyone’s practice: Control.
If you think about it, simply making the commitment to take control of all of the imperfections in your practice is empowering and exciting. It means you can grow and become more profitable. Specifically, taking control of appointments and finances can bring about major changes in your practice.
Do you have patients who leave your office without scheduling? Do they say they’ll call you to schedule for next week? Do you have patients who tell you they’ll pay you next time? These are two major holes that can prevent you from growing, suck the fun out of your practice, and cause many problems. We have all been there and done that.
Most of us are here primarily to serve, and to help patients become healthier, but when the phone company calls about their bill and you tell them about your mission, they never seem to get as excited as you are. So it’s important to accept that you are in business and that an integral part of running a successful business is getting paid, in full and on time, for the services you provide.
A pre-pay policy is an excellent means of keeping your business running smoothly. This will give patients the freedom to think about getting healthy again, instead of worrying about the co-pay on every visit. Get the money out of the way, and patients will almost never miss an adjustment. Why? You’ve got their money and they are going to get their money’s worth no matter what.
The best part is, that is exactly what we want… a chance to get patients well and educate them over “X” number of visits. Go watch a Rocky video and build your confrontational skills. Allow yourself to cross over to the side of security, and then do it. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Scheduling can be another major problem, and you may not even know it. More people than you would like probably walk out of your office without scheduling. Chances are you don’t like it very much, but you have faith in them. But then more often than not, you have to “fight” to get them back into the office.
Wouldn’t it be nice to end all of that nonsense? How about bi-weekly scheduling? How many days/weeks in advance do you schedule your patients? By the visit? By the week? How would you like to have your appointment book filled six to 10 weeks in advance? Wouldn’t this add some security to your practice? Not only can this be done, it shouldn’t be done any other way.
You should make it a policy in your practice to schedule your patients by the month. You may be saying to yourself, “That’s just not possible. My patients would never go for that.” But who’s running your practice, anyway? Anything is possible if you commit to it.
So, make it a policy in your office that your patients schedule at least one month in advance. Your front desk chiropractic assistant, the most important cog in this wheel, may have some problems with this at first. Discuss it with your CA before you implement the system, and chances are pretty good you’ll both realize you have nothing to lose. Once your CA gets into the grove, you will have more fun and less stress in your practice.
Many times the objection in your head is the only one stopping you. Make a commitment to control finances and appointments and you will see major growth in your practice. Closing up any holes in your practice will lead to greater freedom, financial growth, and more fun in your practice.
Change can provide for explosive growth. Get ready for a fun ride.