The New Year brings an excellent opportunity for reflection to assess your 2016 performance and plan for an even more successful 2017. First, let’s quickly review the prosperity plan that we described at the beginning of the year:
The business of farming is an applicable metaphor for “harvesting” any crop, including patients. A farmer who wants to increase revenue must consider three metrics; minimizing overhead, increasing capacity, and harvesting more product. In essence, this entails planting more seeds while controlling costs. The challenge is that these two seemingly symbiotic actions can sometimes work against each other. A farmer cannot expect to harvest crops they did not plant, but planting more seeds increases overhead. The successful farmer must find ways to lower costs while maximizing the harvest. Shedding necessary equipment, land, seeds, fertilizer or employees diminishes capacity and is not good for the bottom line.
Part one of this prosperity plan focused on lowering overhead. Anyone can slash overhead, but successful businesses differentiate “fertilizer” from bullsh&t. One needs to go while the other is essential for growth. We listed several areas to help enhance your profitability without sacrificing capacity.
- Re-shop all service and supply costs (i.e. office supplies, telephone, printing, insurance, retirement, etc).
- Pay special attention to your credit card processing and bank fees.
- Become more energy efficient by using programmable thermostats, timers for hydrocollators, motion activated lights for infrequently used spaces, turn off computers at night, and replace your bottled water with a permanent filtered water cooler.
By taking a hard look at labor costs and implementing all of the actions, our flagship clinic reduced our monthly overhead by more than $3000 per month- without sacrificing capacity. Click here for the complete Part 1-Minimizing Overhead blog.
Part two of this plan included a discussion about capacity, and the frequently overlooked reality-“you can’t harvest ten acres of corn from a five acre field.” If our ultimate goal is to provide the highest quality care to as many patients as possible, we must first create “capacity” for these patients. Spending money to attract new patients into an office with limited capacity is like trying to add water to a full glass- you’re wasting resources. Any single constraint can nullify the best marketing efforts. In the same way that you could not expect to grow several large plants in a small pot, we need to look for “growth barriers” in our offices. We listed several ways to enhance your ability to deliver services:
- Staff- Employees can choose to act as either a sail or an anchor to your ship of dreams. Sails need to be cared for and anchors need to be cut loose. Spend time to train and motivate the right people. Make it a priority to relay and live out a team vision. If your staff were viewed as drops of water- is your collection a stagnant pond, or do you have goals to move coherently as a powerful stream? (Check out this ChiroUp Sample Strategic Game Plan for inspiration).
- Space- If any part of your “pot” is too small- your plant cannot grow. A waiting room with too few seats is one example of a growth barrier that could be stifling your dream. Assess that you have extra capacity during peak times to allow for smooth flow.
- Scheduling- When you market and deliver a service that patients “really want to buy”, in an office with adequate capacity, your problem is not finding new patients, it’s finding time to treat all of those new patients. That creates excitement but can also lead to overbooked schedules- and frustrated patients. Make sure that you have a scheduling system that maximizes and respects everyone’s greatest resource- time. (See this Point- Based Scheduling System for details).
- Procedures- As a service professional, the primary commodity that you sell is time. The number of patients that you can personally serve each day is your major capacity determinant. Using a very modest example: a provider who sees 4 patients per hour and finds a way to save 30 seconds per patient could increase their capacity by 1-2 additional visits per day leading to a virtual $25,000/ year raise. Make a list of all the jobs that you perform on a daily basis and find tasks that you may eliminate, automate, or delegate- thereby creating more appointment availability.
Click here to learn more about the highly valuable “eliminate, automate or delegate” process and to review the entire Part 2- Capacity blog.
The final installment reviewed the top marketing strategies for growing your practice. Don’t feel that you need to promote your practice with 100 different tactics- most successful clinics focus on just a few campaigns, but they implement them well. Typically, the most productive marketing involves:
- Creating an incredible new patient experience on day one. This includes repeating back your patient’s complaint after the initial consult. Check out this video example.
- Provide an Education Stream – Mounting a television or monitor in any waiting area is a high tech way to display multiple messages. (Follow this link to download a Sample Waiting room DVD).
- Marketing to your existing patients is one of the most effective and affordable ways to grow your practice. Referral enhancement is a multi-step process that includes: delivering quality service, requesting referrals, equipping patients with tools to refer, tracking referrals, and acknowledging patients who refer.Check out this script for requesting referrals.
- Marketing to MD’s – Working closely with medical physicians in your area will not only increase your number of new patients (through referrals), but will further your reputation as the authority on chiropractic care. Check out this 15 minute MD marketing webinar that details all of the steps needed to garner more MD referrals
- Online reviews- More prospective new patients are turning to the Internet to find professional services. Manage your profile on popular review sites (Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, etc) and ask patients to give you feedback at the time of service. These online reviews dramatically improve your online presence and prospect for referrals. (ChiroUp members who have not opted out of “Outcome tracker” will automatically give their most satisfied patients the opportunity to rate their practice online.)
Click here to review the entire Part 3- Marketing blog, and log into ChiroUp to take advantage of more than 200 professionally designed marketing samples in 17 time-tested campaigns.
Finally, recognize that you’re in a position to grow. ChiroUp providers have made a commitment to delivering clinical excellence. You have the tools and resources to quickly and easily deliver “best practices”. And don’t forget, you are providing a service that patients want to buy rather than one that you need to sell.
We hope this prosperity plan review provided some useful information for thriving in 2017 and beyond. Enjoy the road to success and don’t forget- significantly different outcomes require significantly different actions.
About the Author
Dr. Tim Bertelsman
DC, CCSP, DACO
Dr. Tim Bertelsman graduated with honors from Logan College of Chiropractic and has been practicing in Belleville, IL since 1992. He has lectured nationally on various clinical and business topics and has been published extensively. He has served in several leadership positions within the Illinois Chiropractic Society and currently serves as President of the executive board.
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