Chiropractors have been trying to tap into the wealth of potential patients in their local business communities for decades. People who have jobs are great patient prospects, because employees usually have the income or insurance to pay for healthcare. In addition, they are often involved with work activities that can cause physical stress and can lead to injuries that the chiropractor can help.
In fact, industry in the United States spends more than $6 billion a year on musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), according to the Department of Labor. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is so concerned about this problem, the agency is proposing regulations – called the ergonomics standard – to try to decrease these life-altering injuries.
There is clear evidence of the efficiency of chiropractic vs. traditional medicine in the workers’ compensation arena. Despite this opportunity, a very small percentage of chiropractors are working with their local businesses. Why has industry been the forbidden frontier for chiropractic?
Supply vs. Demand
Historically speaking, much of industry has harbored a basic distrust for chiropractors. This is a general statement, since there are many chiropractors who have done well working with industry. However, chiropractors who thrive within their business communities have often overcome their share of roadblocks to get where they are.
Industry spends billions of dollars because of back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other forms of MSDs. 80% of the population is predicted to have a back episode in their lifetimes. But the proven solution – chiropractic – was written off by industry as a whole until recently.
How did it happen that a patient must often wait eight weeks to see a surgeon, while some chiropractors have spare time on their hands?
If a product or service is needed but is not being demanded, the problem lies with marketing. Simply put, poor marketing strategies have harmed the reputation of chiropractic within industry. In the past, some chiropractors who were given poor advice contacted industry with promises of lowering on-the-job injuries, with no proven means to do so.
Many of these companies welcomed the chiropractor as a potential solution to rising workers’ compensation costs but then received a “sales pitch” for the sole purpose of acquiring new patients. This “bait-and-switch” mentality could be justified by the fact that everyone would benefit from chiropractic; however, the damage to the ethical reputation of chiropractic was a heavy price to pay.
If you want to access industry you must be: 1) ethical; 2) have a proven method of getting results (lowering injuries), and; 3) know how to get your foot in the door.
- Being ethical. Never think of the benefits to yourself or your practice as the primary purposes for doing business. Rather, ask yourself, “What can I do for my clients and patients?” If you understand their needs and solve them, you will never have to worry about the benefits to you. Those benefits will automatically follow. If you lower a company’s workers’ compensation costs by 30%, that company will adopt you forever. Patients and income are always a by-product of doing the job you were hired to do – not the primary purpose. If you agree with this principle, you will succeed as an injury prevention consultant.
- Having a proven tool to reduce injuries. Chiropractors who consult with industry are, in essence, repackaging themselves. Industry wants profitability – not chiropractic. So you market reductions in workers’ compensation costs and ensure you achieve them. When marketing to industry, you need to present yourself as a professional. Many chiropractors need additional training in correct biomechanical techniques of lifting, bending, pulling, etc., and good ergonomic techniques to help educate office workers. You should be armed with professional materials and a workshop curriculum that can achieve the goals you’re promising. You should never offer free programs – this tactic diminishes your value and the profession’s.
- Getting your foot in the door. This is the main stumbling block for many chiropractors. The mantra is, “I hate to sell.” This mind set is usually caused by failed attempts in the past. The truth of the matter is, you have to be able to market effectively, or you are continually at risk.
What chiropractor doesn’t sell? You do it every day with your patients. When you get approval from patients on their treatment plans, you are doing what is called “consultive selling.” Your patients rely on you to advise them of various options they can take to solve their problems. The key ingredient in this type of sale is credibility, and your total confidence in your recommendations.
When you “sell” injury prevention concepts, you are offering an extremely valuable service that can change people’s lives and make a difference between a company losing money or being profitable. If you have ethical intentions and you know you can produce the results you promise, you are extremely valuable – therefore, you become a wanted commodity. You are then in a position to do consultive selling.
Industrial consulting is completely synergistic with practicing. You can learn how to teach your patients biomechanical techniques to keep them healthy (billing codes are available for this), and in return they will often be happy to help you access management at their workplace.
Industrial consulting is not for everyone. However, if you like to teach, you enjoy people, and like to learn more about what other people do for a living, it’s likely you will do extremely well.
You can use your existing education – augmented by biomechanical training and how to communicate these concepts to small groups – to learn a new area of practice that can be spliced into your day-to-day practice. The income can be quite substantial, and you essentially get paid to market your practice. While conducting your workshops in the workplace, you are also promoting your practice, by sharing what you know about injury prevention and showing employees you care about them.
If you approach this opportunity with professionalism and learn to do it right, the potential is unlimited. There is no better profession that is more qualified to consult with industry.