We're considering implementing a new patient orientation/class. We've tried these before without much success in getting people to attend. Any ideas?
The challenge you mention is an old one, which has worsened as people have become increasingly over committed. However, here are a few things to consider:
1. Record your program and supply it to patients as a CD or post it on your website. Granted, that doesn't guarantee that they will take the time to watch or listen, but it can serve as a back up if patients repeatedly miss your live event. (Placing the video behind a password so you can capture the visitors name and then using a service like Wista.com would allow you to monitor viewership and even see when patients bail before completing your presentation.)
2. Have a sign up sheet at the front desk and reminders by the staff and throughout the office (white boards, etc.) announcing your "seminar." I recommend using a name other than workshop, class, lecture, etc. You may be "seminared out" but rarely is the lay public. When presenting this opportunity to your practice members (and their guests) frame it in terms of the specific benefits those attending will receive. I know of three: 1) get well faster, 2) save money and 3) avoid a relapse.
3. Consider an office policy in which their visit immediately following their attendance is complimentary.
4. Patients are more likely to utilize what they pay for, so include a modest charge for the seminar in your new patient examination fee, say, $20, collecting it on the first visit. Explain that this fee is part of your new patient on-boarding fee because it dramatically improves the success of each patient's experience in your practice. (Be sure to reiterate patient benefits above.)
5. Establish a policy that the seminar is mandatory—but only if you're willing to refer the patient out if they don't comply by a reasonable time frame.
Often this "mandatory" issue is merely a bluff, unless you actually refer those who don't attend to another chiropractor. Either the information you present is so essential as to disqualify them from your special type of chiropractic care, or it isn't. How committed are you to sharing the information you present? Is it worth alienating or losing a patient? Do you want practice members in your audience with arms crossed and openly hostile because they don't want to be there? Probably not. If mandatory is an empty threat, don't make it.
6. Make this a big deal. Promote it to the public. Hold it somewhere other than your practice. Investing a hundred bucks to rent a meeting room some evening at the local Marriott sends an entirely different message than holding it in your practice. Consider having a guest speaker join you. You might even consider charging admission to offset costs. Or a canned good for the community pantry.
7. Remember, these orientation seminars are just as important for you to hear as your patients! Telling the chiropractic story in an interesting and compelling way will not only inspire others, it will reignite your own passion.
Interestingly, most patients I have spoken to in focus group settings have often observed that while they didn't want to attend the doctor's presentation, afterwards they were glad they did. You may want to encourage patient reviews specifically about your talks.
Bottom line? So few people truly value their health (as opposed to simply wanting pain relief) that not only will they not attend your seminar, they won't watch a Netflix documentary on health issues, start exercising or change their diet or lifestyle. Don't take it personally. It's not you. It's them. Love them anyway.
Thanks for the question!