Dear Bill | Too Many or Too Few

Posted by Bill Esteb on Feb 14th 2024

Dear Bill,

“Either my numbers are down and I’m twiddling my thumbs, or I’m stressed out because patients are waiting in the reception room. How do I solve this issue?”

I’m not sure can. Or would want to. Chiropractors who see a steady number of visits, like you think you want, often report boredom.

However, your quandary reveals two stories you’ve created that are the likely source of your perceived problem.

The first story is about the meaning you attach to gaps in your schedule. I’ve addressed this in more detail elsewhere. The key is to reframe these occasional lulls in your adjusting routine as opportunities, rather than a sign you’re about to go out of business.

If the impending doom is because you lack the necessary margin in your life to go weeks or months without another patient visit, downgrade your lifestyle. Live beneath your means for a season and these perfectly natural fluctuations in patient visits will prompt far less concern.

The second story is about the meaning you’ve attached to people waiting. Simply put, if your practice is up to something, there will be waiting. Count on it.

Turns out we wait at Disneyworld. We wait for the new iPhone. We wait for a table at a popular restaurant. We wait at the Dairy Queen on a hot Sunday afternoon in August.

We wait for things we want.

Waiting is a choice.

A full reception room is a signal that you offer something people want. Will there be an occasional patient who does an about face upon entering your crowded reception room? Of course. I’ve done that. Like me they may have budgeted a half hour, but it looks like it may be closer to 45 minutes. So, they return to their life. Are they angry with you? Not particularly. In fact, they’re more likely to pat themselves on the back for choosing such a popular, in-demand chiropractor.

If your aspirations are more modest and want a boutique practice with a sparse enough schedule that avoids anyone waiting, no problem. But if you’re up to something and seek to help more people, count on some waiting. It comes with the territory.

If both of these stories are running concurrently you have the perfect recipe for an isometric practice. With one foot on the gas and the other on the brakes, your self-inflicted stress takes the joy out of practice by constantly seeking an elusive Goldilocks schedule. (Keep in mind your support team may have one or both stories as well. In fact, they may be tapping the brakes to keep things between the curbs without your knowledge!)

You work with the public. You’re at the mercy of the weather. Street closures. Holidays. Stingy insurance carriers. Lockdowns. Economic uncertainty. The limited value many patients place on their health. Varying notions of punctuality. And the list goes on. Roll with the punches and commit to giving 100% to the patient in front of you.

Ask Bill your question.

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