I've had to close my practice because our state doesn't consider chiropractic an essential service. I have time on my hands, but not a lot of cash. Do you have any suggestions about what I can be doing to set the stage for coming back strong?
Good thinking. This is the time to work on your practice since you can't work in your practice. Use this windfall opportunity correctly and it could become a pivotal moment to launch your recovery on the other side of this. Especially if your local competitors are moping about and holding private pity parties.
Here are three ideas that don't cost a lot money and mostly rely on your focused attention and time:
1. Clean, paint and organize – You probably did more cleaning leading up to closing your practice than you have in years. But you might want to go deeper. Does your carpet need to be cleaned? Scuff marks where patients sign in? Stained ceiling tiles? Has it been a while since a crevice device was used along the baseboard and especially behind adjusting room doors? Time to replace the double stick tape on your X-ray view box? Look hard and critically.
Then there's the cleaning and organizing that patients don't generally see. The rat's nest of wires under the front desk. The closet with old cassette tapes from 1995. The drawers and cabinets with stuff you haven't used in years—and probably never will.
Clean out and purge. Discard, recycle, give away, eliminate and throw out as much unused, unneeded "stuff" as possible. As my mentor Dr. Larry Markson observed, "Success does not flow into chaos." Amen.
2. Update your digital reputation – This is the time to lean into your website, email templates and social media presence. Often, these are sacrificed when you're busy helping patients. Investing in this now will pay dividends in the months and years ahead.
Write some blog posts. What are those repetitious explanations you give about home care procedures? Or the proper use of heat and ice? The list is endless. But if you're coming up blank here are 101 blog ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Adding original content to your website is a way to give it greater authority with Google.
Renew your website. Pretend to be a prospective new patient. Type into your favorite search engine the word chiropractor and your city name. And then go on a field trip. Find out what your competitors are doing. Finally, go to your website. Does it create an emotional connection? Does it answer the question, "Are you the chiropractor for me?" It may be time for a refresh. These days a website has a shelf life of only 3-4 years. If it's been longer, visitors can tell. Which can reflect poorly on your clinical skill. Contact the folks at Perfect Patients and upgrade your website, the centerpiece of your online new patient marketing.
Plan your patient emails. Most practices don't send their patients regular emails. It's a great way to extend the bond you have with patients. Plus, you can remind, educate, motivate and inspire active and inactive patients. Need some ideas? Here are 50 patient emails.
Be thinking about the fall when this will likely be behind us. What will you be sending to your patients on chiropractic's birthday in September? Halloween? Thanksgiving? Christmas? New Years? Write them now so all you have to do is polish them before sending. It's the perfect way to keep you and your practice top of mind among your inactive patients.
3. Procedure manual – I've save the most ambitious, and important suggestion for last. Here's the question I've asked dozens of times during my one-hour telephone conversations. "If you have a procedure manual, could I, who has never worked in a chiropractic office, read your manual and adequately perform front desk duties?" The answer is almost always an embarrassed no.
Then get busy. Without a clear, written down procedure you're shooting from the hip and your staff is exhausting massive amounts of energy trying to predict what you're going to want next. It's difficult to provide support and cover when you're always calling audibles. Put your practice system in writing. The systems run the practice. Your people run the systems.
While the current circumstances are unique, they offer an equally unique opportunity to lay the groundwork for the future. Some of the biggest corporate names got their start during challenging economic times. This could be the opportunity you've been looking for. But you must act boldly and decisively.
Thanks for the question!