Why do people visit chiropractors?
The most common drivers are pain and discomfort, and chiropractors answer the call. The way you solve problems for your patients offers insight into your unique style of care.
When you help your patients achieve their goals, everyone wins. But after a win, what happens next? Whether you’re new in practice or have a successful 25-year career, patient retention is critical to your success. What is your strategy for having a winning game? Not every game plan you design for your clinic will be the right one. Yet common elements, such as a strong referral system, market visibility, supportive staff, a welcoming space, and your own commitment will help ensure your success at retaining patients. Here are five simple patient retention strategies to consider.
1. Put a strong referral system in place
Begin by looking at the people you have in your clinic now because they are your cheerleaders.
Success comes from referrals by both patients and other professionals. To build a solid patient referral system, consider setting up a team of networking professionals and excited patients. Your practice is as unique as you are, and you will be a great match for many people, so work with those who appreciate you and are happy to refer others.
For example: If you schedule 30- minute appointments and address soft-tissue support and nutrition during that time, you might not be a good fit for the patient who wants a quick adjustment in less than 15 minutes. Encourage your network to refer your services to those they feel would benefit from your style of care.
2. Don’t forget team promotion
Are you out in the community wearing your public relations ballcap? It’s hard to have a busy practice if you aren’t attracting new patients and networking with other healthcare professionals.
There are many clubs and associations that would love to know more about your practice and your views on health and wellness. Join your local chamber of commerce and take advantage of social media.
Visit one of the clubs and associations in your community at least once a month. Make sure your community knows you are a resource to help others obtain optimal health.
3. Employ supportive staff
Every winning team is a mix of people working toward one goal. What does your staff do to support your ongoing game plan? Customer satisfaction has a lot to do with the staff you employ.
Only you can determine the best combination of personality traits for your office, but certain qualities do need to be present. Take time to find professionally focused, efficient, pleasant, and enthusiastic office staff.
Keep your staff aware that the team objective is to be professional and efficient, while maintaining a pleasant and enthusiastic demeanor. To ensure smooth visits, your staff needs to be present and attentive to each patient. When approaching the front desk, patients shouldn’t wait for staff to finish reading a Facebook post or sending a text message. Even when busy or on the phone, a simple nod of acknowledgment lets patients know they were seen.
As patients enter your practice, staff should offer a warm welcome coupled with an open-ended question, such as “Hello! How are you doing today?” Encourage your staff to listen to the patients and respond in a respectful way.
4. Create locker-room appeal
Like a locker room, there is a lot of activity in your waiting room. If you and your staff have a consistent plan, you will create a structured environment that patients feel comfortable in while at your clinic and under your care.
To maintain a balanced structure, make sure office policies are well- known to both staff and patients.
Policies about cancellations, payment, and privacy should not be a surprise.
Do your patients have to wait a long time? As the quarterback of your team, do your part to keep visits on time so patients aren’t kept waiting. When an appointment is over, your staff should efficiently execute post-appointment details such as ordering supplements, taking payments, and setting up the next visit.
Encourage your patients to schedule their next visit before they leave. If they can’t, be respectful and let them know you will follow-up by phone or email to schedule their next appointment.
Your waiting room’s appearance speaks volumes about your practice. Keep it clean and comfortable with a variety of current (not months’ old) reading material. Don’t overcrowd your space with too many chairs. If you don’t offer many places to sit, you will force yourself to be efficient during appointments so patients aren’t standing around as they wait.
5. Be the quarterback
As the chiropractor, you are a combination of quarterback and coach. Like your office staff, maintain your focus on each patient. Be respectful and listen carefully to patients’ concerns and theories about their pain.
Leadership only happens if you are listening to the patients and their worries.
Encourage your patients to think about other aspects of life that may affect their health. During a regular appointment, ask about other habits such as hydration, diet, and sleep. Sometimes patients don’t even realize what directly affects their health and how to make appropriate changes.
Let your patients know that, as a chiropractor, you are an excellent resource to help them make healthier lifestyle choices. As you lead them through the rough spots, they become players who are more confident. Encourage and support them in your winning style.
Your patients rely on you to provide great care in a quality environment. Any time is a good time to drop back and take a wider view of your patient retention strategies. The key to success is determining which strategies resonate with your patient base and staff. Fine tuning your game plan will lead to lots of end-zone celebrating while keeping your patients happy, healthy, and returning for years to come.
Mary Warren, DC, owner of Vital Force Wellness in Dallas, has been practicing holistic health care for 20 years. Her foundational approach of good nutrition, physical movement, and healthy mental practices combines herbs, whole-food nutrition and homeopathy in her chiropractic wellness practice. She can be contacted through vitalforcewellness.com.