Whispered during a break at a chiropractic convention, or confessed during a telephone consultation, there are several mistakes you’ll routinely hear from new chiropractors.
In no particular order, here are the most common. (And even experienced field doctors make some of these errors, too.)
1. No purpose beyond survival
Simply put, if your vision is to merely fulfill your financial obligations and survive to practice another day, you’ll do little more than that.
This is the most critical aspect of any small business. And make no mistake: You’re in a small business. So you must rise above the notion that you just deserve success because of the time and financial commitment you’ve made.
Decide what business you want to be in. Are you in the chiropractic business, the healthcare business, the pain-relief business, or something else?
2. Caring too much
If you find yourself wanting better health for a patient even more than the patient wants it, you may have an unhealthy attachment.
If you’re inclined to care too much, the size of your practice will be kept in check because you’re micromanaging each patient. If the practice gets too large, exceeding your ability to over-care, you’ll instinctively tap on the brakes, slowing it down ever so slightly, so that you can continue over- caring. Practitioners who are helping twice as many people as you aren’t indulging in what is largely an egotistical luxury.
Care, but don’t care too much. You’re not the patient’s parent. Patients have free will to value their health as they see fit. Don’t take their decisions personally.
3. Talking too much
If you find yourself filling the air with your own words, it could be a sign of insecurity.
While you may be telling yourself that you’re educating patients with your adjusting room chatter, you’re not. You’re simply making assertions and declarations that do little to change a patient’s beliefs or behaviors.
Consider the most powerful people you’ve ever met. Do they constantly flap their gums? Or are they reserved? Lots of words, like anything else in abundance, have little value.
Instead, cultivate and perfect the most valuable skill of all: the ability to be curious and listen. Like all social skills, being a good listener requires practice.
4. Projecting your financial concerns
If you’re having a hard time making ends meet, it’s tempting to project your own financial challenges onto patients. Especially if you couldn’t afford your own treatment plan.
This can result in your recommendations sounding tentative or unconfident. “Let’s give chiropractic a try and see how you do.” Yikes.
This tends to degenerate a practice into an emergency pain-relief clinic, with patients leaving quickly once their symptoms resolve. Few maintenance or wellness patients creates a demand for a constant stream of new patients.
5. Not targeting new patients
One of the greatest challenges facing any small business is getting new customers. This can cripple a new practice, especially if you have little interest in marketing.
Turns out, getting new patients is the result of telling the chiropractic story to as many strangers as possible. Whether you do screenings, public speaking events, build a high-ranking website, or send out postcards, the more people you reach with your message of a safe, all-natural approach to better health, the more new patients you’ll attract.
William D. Esteb is the creative director of Patient Media Inc., and since 1999 has published his weekly email, “Monday Morning Motivation,” with practice tips and headspace ideas to grow your practice. He conducts one-hour telephone consultations to help chiropractors get unstuck and provides patient education resources to explain chiropractic. He can be contracted through patientmedia.com.