Today’s marketplace is flooded with a vast assortment of nutritional products. Nutrition is one of the fastest-growing markets in the country and, fortunately for our profession, it’s a perfect fit with chiropractic. Best of all, adding nutritional counseling and products to your practice is easier than you may think.
Positioning yourself as an expert in nutrition is an ideal way to increase patient recruitment and retention. Nutritional services can benefit the large number of patients who have been purchasing products without professional advice or personal know-how.
Remember how exciting the learning process was early in your chiropractic education? The more you understood about chiropractic, the more energized you became. Adding nutrition to your practice is one way to begin that educational process again while enhancing the growth of your practice.
Many of us have been “going through the motions” for years without changing much about our protocol or practice approach. This type of pattern is un-healthy from both a marketing and a personal standpoint.
Even your patients want to see small, incremental changes in your practice intended to bring them increased health and wellness. Nutrition is one logical way to do that.
If you follow these eight simple steps to add nutrition to your practice, you will see almost immediate benefits in increased health (your patients’) and wealth (your practice’s).
- Beginning is easy. Subscribe to a leading nutrition journal and join your state or national organization and look into seminars or continuing education courses. As you learn about the latest developments in nutrition, realize how much more you have to offer patients. Nutrition is a natural extension of chiropractic, and patients who believe in chiropractic are likely to be interested in the merits of a balanced diet and supplements. The chiropractic adjustment will always be the most important type of care you provide for your patients. However, at times, a patient will have a more complex health problem that will require a holistic approach to care, including nutritional counseling. It helps to remember there are various component parts of the vertebral subluxation complex, and nutrition can help in the evaluation, examination, diagnosis, correction and support of these different aspects of human function.
- Recommend products you use or would use yourself. A half-price sale on an herb or remedy doesn’t mean you should stock it on your shelf. Get involved in the process of improving your own health and see what it does for your practice. If you don’t believe in getting adjusted, neither will your patients. The same holds true for nutrition. If you don’t use nutritional products and life-style changes yourself, you will forever be “selling” the ideas, instead of empowering others to help themselves.
- Use companies that promote the science behind their products with qualified research. I carry six different name brands of products in my office, and all the related companies participate in ongoing forms of product research. You should work with companies that put the patient first, based on documented clinical studies. This type of quality control adds to your confidence level when recommending the companies’ products. Look for research that combines input from various professionals, such as chiropractors, clinical scientists and board-certified medical specialists, for a focus on “whole patient”-centered care.
- Unless requested earlier by the patient, start integrating the opportunity for nutritional education somewhere between the sixth and twelfth visit. This is the time frame during which patients’ symptoms typically begin to stabilize, and they might start to think about dropping out of care – many times prematurely. By adding the nutritional education process during this pivotal time, you can help your patients become more involved in the direction of their long-term health goals. This strategy will also give you more interaction and accountability with the patient, allowing for a better understanding of chiropractic and what additional benefits wellness or elective care can offer.
- The product lines in your office should offer value for both you and your patients. Marking up products 50% to 100% is not the complete picture of compensation. Your time has many dimensions of value. For instance, you will need to be compensated for your increased administrative time. Inventory will need to be kept, and you and your employees must be nutritionally-savvy for proper patient education. However, you must strike a delicate balance in the pricing of your nutritional products and services. The products need to represent a fair-market value compared to what patients can find off-the-shelf at the local pharmacy or health-food store.
- Find products that help sell themselves through informative support materials to educate the consumer. The most expensive action you take in your practice is to stop to talk. If you repeatedly find yourself taking 15 minutes to explain how a vitamin works, you would be much better off finding a company that has already done that for you in product literature. Patients can review the information and let you or your staff know if they have any follow-up questions.
- Choose product lines that support the type of practice you have or envision. For example, I treat a large number of Baby Boomers, thus, I carry a line of anti-aging and personal enhancement products designed to aid in the correction of conditions or injuries most common in this demographic group.
- Realize that nutrition can, and does, support the vertebral subluxation complex. There are those chiropractors who will take this concept to an extreme and will provide nutritional products and services almost exclusively; and there are those who will do little more than recommend Vitamin C during cold and flu season.
Many doctors realize the active care component of their treatment regime improves if they can get patients to play a more active role in improving their health, rather than waiting for someone to do it for them. Nutrition is an ideal means of getting patients to help take responsibility for their own health. Once they become involved in this process, they are better candidates for lifetime chiropractic care.
The lasting benefits of adding nutrition to my own practice during the past two years have been extremely satisfying. We have enjoyed an increase in profits, and we have a practice full of satisfied and better-educated patients who can now make better buying choices affecting their nutrition. We also have more and more families of patients who have become referral ambassadors for our clinic as they experience the scope of services we offer, compared to the limited choices many of them were facing in the “sickness-care” environment of their former health-care model.
Adding nutrition to your practice now can be a win-win situation for you, your practice, and your patients in this new era of chiropractic.