The most successful chiropractors know their prosperity is linked directly to understanding their patient base.
They’re keenly aware that every patient’s life situation is unique, and grasping this allows them to provide effective services.
Sadly, many busy doctors do them- selves a great disservice by believing all patients are created equal and share the same qualities, interests, assets, and timelines. And believing that can have disastrous effects on your practice.
It is essential to set up a system that allows you to know about the events occurring in your patients’ lives (beyond birthdays and situations that brought them to you initially). For example: Are they married? Are they expecting children? Do they have children? Are they athletes? Are they health conscious? Do they belong to particular social groups?
Additionally, all communication with your patients is advertising and marketing. While expressing genuine concern regarding your patients is subtle and noninvasive, it is still a promotion of your services nonetheless.
Get to know your patients
Your practice will never attain its full potential if you don’t know your patients. Furthermore, you can’t determine the quality of each patient if you’re not asking good questions.
Query your best patients and ask thought-provoking questions in the form of a causal conversation such as, “What is most important to you about your care?” “What would change if you couldn’t see me?” “If you could design a chiropractic practice, what would you offer?”
Therefore, regarding the above questions (from a patient retention and practice enhancement perspective):
- If they have children, maybe they’re tired and a bit beat up. Perhaps sending them an invitation along with a discount coupon for stress- relieving massage therapy would provide your practice with an additional appointment and take you one more step toward earning their loyalty.
- If they’re athletes, invite them in for an adjustment and deep-tissue work.
- If they’re pregnant, share a coupon with them to come in and get pampered.
- If they belong to a social group, make arrangements and special offers for their members.
These work to expand your reach beyond your immediate awareness and influence.
The cornerstone of the cycle strategy is the development of long-term relation- ships with your patients. Everything you do and say to patients needs to be delivered in the spirit of the benefit it brings them. As they build up trust with you, they will tell you more about their unique circumstances.
Elite chiropractors employ “patient- selling cycle systems.” Simply put, a selling cycle is a triage mechanism for determining the priority of promotional activities.
Patients enter your service generation system at different cycles in their lives and with varying levels of need. So, you need to qualify and quantify each patient to immediately categorize their cycle of need and your level of intervention.
Quantify your patient on a scale of 0 to 5 (5 being best). By doing so, you will create a prospect profile inventory based on relevant topics covering such subjects as immediate need, maintenance, or comfort.
Then list the information into categories and subcategories (such as lifestyles, habits, and health preservation interests). Finally, assign the highest values to those patients with immediate needs, and work down from there.
For example: If a patient is pregnant, she would have a more immediate need for ongoing service, so assign her 5 points. If a patient is an on-again, off-again runner, and just needs spot checks, assign the person 2 points. If the patient is a busy executive in a highly stressful job and time is difficult to schedule, consider assigning them 3 points.
As you can see, the values you assign are subjective; you’re the only person who can assign points to your patients, based on the details of what you are being told.
Implementing the cycle
The sooner you qualify your patients and take appropriate action, the better off your practice will be. These five steps can help you qualify them effectively.
1. Evaluate your patients.
Be aware of where prospective, past, and current patients fall in the cycle, and treat them accordingly. A patient who has an immediate need and ability to take action should be given quick attention, sooner than someone who is browsing.
Good questions lead to a level of understanding that mere assumptions never reach. If you don’t understand your patient’s unique situation and emotional desires (and ultimately their score), you’ve left success to chance.
Careful questioning leads to under- standing. Craft your communications accordingly to generate steady streams of income.
2. Classify your prospects.
Once you’ve qualified your patients, give them a primary classification, such as:
- A: Prospect has both an immediate need and ability to take action; this would be your best prospect.
- B: Prospect will need your services within one to three months. Put them on a steady contact list with emails, newsletters, and similar to stay top of mind.
- C: Prospect is interested in using your services but has no immediate timeline in mind. Follow up with them on a quarterly basis.
When you contact anyone, always deliver exceptional content, i.e., essential information that your patients are seeking, whether created, curated, or syndicated.
Never discard a patient who cannot use your services immediately.
Cultivating prospects until they are ready develops a rich pool of future patients.
3. Use a contact system for each group.
Immediate need; 1–2 months; 3–5 months; six months or more. Identify your patients as quickly as possible.
Keep regular contact with these patients who already believe in your abilities and professionalism.
4. Be consistent and relevant.
Contact your patients a minimum of eight times per year, preferably 12. This maximizes your opportunity to be the immediate choice when they’re ready to seek care. Consistent contact builds a powerful bond of familiarity and trust.
5. Provide real value.
An effective and time-proven method of developing your brand is through writing— especially a book. This allows you to support and explain things in interesting and detailed ways. It also develops your reputation.
The published word confers a considerable amount of credibility on its author. Parlay this credibility to establish yourself as a published expert.
Consider writing something like: What You Need to Know About What Happens to Your Spine in an Accident, or 50 Tips to Increase Your Muscle Strength and Flexibility, or maybe Seven Secrets Every Expectant Mother Needs to Know About Proper Alignment.
Your practice will benefit by implementing a patient-selling cycle, and will yield a clear and effective road map for you.
Steve Cox and Claudio Gormaz have worked with the chiropractic community for over 20 years. Many prominent medical practices in the country have benefited from their strategies, developed fruitful and predictable advertising messages, as well as creating solid branding platforms while elevating their resident expert status. They can be contacted through 530-492-9971, stevenvonloren.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.