It is estimated that American business and industry will lose about 93 million work days a year from workers suffering with back pain. This “down time” will cost over $20 billion. A waste? Of course. Unavoidable? Not at all.
Can you make a difference? Yes, you can! How big of a piece of this multi-billion dollar pie do you want? You should ask yourself these questions. Why do I continue to only market my services for the immediate patient when I can spend a little time and effort to educate decision makers in my area and have them refer their injured people to me for years to come? How much money have I lost over the years from not educating this influential group so they would refer their injuries to me? Has chiropractic suffered as a result of neglecting to convince business leaders of how we fit in to their health care teams?
Doctors, you have the expertise to end this. By educating leaders of business and industry, unions, PPO’s and HMO’s, you can help increase productivity, help workers improve their health, make chiropractic services more accessible and add thousands of dollars to your income.
Perhaps you are wondering, “Why spend all this energy to meet with these people?” Stop and consider-who benefits from your efforts to present chiropractic to business and industry? You do! You gain greater visibility and income, workers are healthier and more productive and management improves bottom line profits. Who loses if you never speak to the decision maker? You stand to lose the most, then workers and finally management.
After having made hundreds of presentations over the past 14 years, I can tell you that as business decision makers begin to understand what we have to offer them, they are demanding our services. They will fight battles for you to obtain access to your services. However, you need to take the initiative now to present chiropractic to them. Start letting your name and our profession gain a wider scope of recognition in your area.
Let’s Get Started
The first step in educating industry about chiropractic’s effectiveness is to seek out the decision makers. An excellent source may be your current patients. Do any of them hold executive positions in your community? If so, take a moment and jot down their names. Have your CA do so as well; sometimes they are more familiar with patients’ backgrounds.
Also think of friends and relatives who are influential. Now look at your list to see if these individuals hold decision-making positions regarding health and personnel policies. Also look to see who could introduce you to decision makers. Make a separate list of those contacts.
After identifying those who fulfill these criteria, meet with each individual separately to discuss the benefits you have to offer their businesses. During the meeting, have your facts and figures ready. You will need information that demonstrates chiropractic’s efficacy to business and industry leaders. There are companies who have developed videos, presentation manuals and flip charts to help you. Look into those or do the research yourself.
Present your message in a clear, concise, well-organized manner. (You should practice your presentation with family and friends ahead of time so you can receive helpful feedback.)
What can you offer the company?
You can serve companies in several ways, each of which will lead to new patients in your practice.
First and foremost you should care for injured employees. Become their company doctor. This could be on a contract basis or as a part of the company’s insurance plan.
As a consulting doctor paid by the company, you can educate employees on preventing back injuries; perform preplacement, pre-employment examinations; and examine and make recommendations to correct ergonomic problems in the workplace.
Treatment. We must begin treating more work-related injuries. Recent studies show that 9 out of 10 people with back injuries begin treatment by going to a medical doctor. Business demands to save health care dollars. They want competition to help drive down costs. We should be that competition, and we can save them money. For the good of the public, they need what we offer as chiropractic doctors.
Prevention classes, commonly referred to as “back schools.” Back schools help prevent injury and reduce costs. Many businesses, including the insurance industry, are thinking more about prevention and they are willing to pay for these classes. For example, I was paid $600 for presenting a back school to 200 employees one morning at a company. During the next year, lost days due to back injuries were reduced from 212 lost days to 3 days. The company saved over $250,000 in costs and premium rebates. I was invited back to teach another back school a year later. They also invited me to be their company doctor and provide on-site treatment. They have over 600 employees.
A few years ago, I developed, in cooperation with some very talented people, a very entertaining and educational back school video. It was filmed in the Wild, Wild West (Old Tucson in Arizona). This back school provides all of the tools needed to sell the concept to busy decision makers, teach back safety concepts to employees and correctly position Doctors of Chiropractic. Tools such as these have made back schools a pleasurable, money making opportunity to gain patients and excellent exposure.
Spinal screenings. Postural screenings can be performed on all employees. Recently one doctor I know of tried this suggestion. The company paid him $175 per hour for employee screening, a service he normally provided free. The business viewed this as a valuable prevention service.
In-plant visits and ergonomic evaluations. Before any back school, I always walk through a plant. By becoming familiar with what employees are required to do, you can tailor your back school to the company.
Pre-employment exams. This excellent screening device gives the employer and the employee valuable information that will help prevent injuries and expensive disabilities. Because both employer and employee know the biomechanical status of the person, it can better be determined if the worker can perform a job without a high risk of injury to self or coworkers.
Participation as part of the health care team. Through our work, we can begin networking with MD’s, hospitals and other allied health care providers and occupational specialists.
IME’s or ICE’s and second opinion examinations. I recommend to business that an Independent Chiropractic Examination be mandatory for any patient diagnosed as needing surgery for a neuro-musculoskeletal injury; common to the back, neck and carpal tunnel.
Join the company’s staff: You can work as a full or part-time doctor for the company.
Writer. You can author a monthly health column or health-related articles for a company’s magazine or newsletter.
Making cold calls
In addition to using patients and acquaintances as a source for finding and making business contacts, you can use a method referred to as making cold calls.
A “cold call” means setting up an appointment with someone who does not know you. To identify the decision makers of business and industry in your community, you can check with your Chamber of Commerce. Often they keep lists of the companies in your area with details such as the employer’s name, address, and phone number. Occasionally the list may even include the number of employees and a description of the work they do. Does a particular company seem unlikely to need your services? Do not cross it off. Remember, back strain and sprain is the most common injury in nearly every occupation.
Next, start making appointments. The person you should call will have a title similar to one of the following: health benefits coordinator, personnel manager, workers’ compensation supervisor, or medical director. The exact title depends on the service you want to offer. With smaller companies, ask for the manager or owner.
In setting up appointments, a good time to meet is early in the morning, about half an hour after their office opens. If that time slot is not available, suggest meeting before lunch. I like to meet before lunch, tour the company and then go to lunch. Then I can use the time during lunch to review several services I offer, in addition to providing care to employees and family members.
A word about getting executives to agree to meet with you: offer them alternative appointment times. For example, ask, “Would eleven-thirty be good for you, Mr. Smith, or would you prefer earlier in the morning around nine?” Worded this way, it’s not a question if they will meet with you, but when. If you ask them “When would be a good time for me to see you,” they will have to mentally flip through their whole day to decide a time-and might decide they are too busy. Giving them just two specific times to consider can make it easier to decide.
However, if an executive will not commit to an appointment the first time you call, he or she may agree to look over your information. Send a brief letter along with your resume, followed by a phone call, two or three days later. Be tireless in your pursuit of an appointment. You can expect a great return on your investment if you are persistent.
Making the most of every opportunity-the presentation
Throughout your discussions, stay focused on the other person. Their company. Their employees. Their bottom line. They are concerned with what you can do for them. They want to save money and prevent injuries.
A full dissertation on chiropractic philosophy, a tirade against the practices of the medical community, or a comparative survey of various techniques or modalities of treatment are unnecessary. Do not waste your listener’s time with things he or she neither cares about nor needs to know. I use one video, in particular, in all of my presentations because it convinces decision makers through third party endorsement. They hear and see success stories from other companies and governmental bodies who found big savings and benefits from chiropractic.
Addressing industry’s needs
Let’s say you arrange the appointment. What next? First of all, make sure the person you are meeting perceives you as a professional. Be on time and dress for success. Relax! Instead of worrying about how you will come across or mistakes you might make, take time before you go in to dwell on positive thoughts. Reflect on the power you have to help this company manage capital and labor more efficiently. Think how much your expertise can help the employees work safer and live healthier. Imagine the impact your professionalism can have as you tear down the walls of prejudice and stereotype with each new patient you treat.
Go into the executive’s office excited by the great opportunity you are giving this company by introducing them to chiropractic. After brief small talk, ask a few questions about the business. Of course, you should know some of its general background before going in, but questioning helps accomplish three objectives:
- It can give the impression you are interested in the company’s welfare, not just what it can do for you.
- It helps relax the executive by letting him or her talk about something important and familiar.
- It reveals some of the individual’s personality, which gives you clues on how to approach him or her more effectively.
Ask about the company’s most common on-the-job injury. Find out about any previous programs they may have used to prevent the frequency of back injury. Then, present your services in a brief, factual manner. Do not spend more than 15 minutes on this part of your interviewyour visit should not last more than one hour and often only thirty minutes. Wind up by outlining the variety of the aforementioned services you are qualified to offer, and recommend which one(s) you would perform for this organization. Before you leave, agree on a date to telephone for his or her decision, and make certain you do call back on that date.
The day after your interview, send that person a note thanking them for their time. When you make the effort to do your homework properly, dress well, arrive ahead of time, present your information thoroughly and confidently, and make sure to follow up with timely notes and phone calls, you will impress potential associates as someone worth paying attention to and doing business with.
Put it all together
There is an open door to industry. Apply what you already know to the opportunity before you, and stride through that door. By doing so, you can take your place on the other side with those who move our profession forward. s
Donald L. Stokes, DC, a graduate of Life Chiropractic College-West, is a professional advisor and consultant to several large corporations and municipalities. In 1982, he founded Business Industrial Chiropractic Services 2000 [BICS 2000], an organization of more than 1,500 chiropractic offices nationwide who work with businesses and currently serves as president. Dr. Stokes has developed professional presentations, manuals, flip charts and videos for introducing the benefits of chiropractic to business. For more information, please write to PO Box 2331, Peachtree City, GA 30269; or call 770-487-4603.