Many chiropractors use a medical approach to get new patients.
They don't cozy up to medical practitioners, although that might payoff. They employ something like a drug trial; add this input and new patients manifest at the other end. Linear; this causes that.
Like medicine, the "dosage" must be increased. Producing unwanted effects.
More helpful would be a chiropractic approach.
While medicine is focused on the problem in the patient, chiropractic focuses on the person with the problem.
Translated: instead of focusing on harvesting new patients, focus on sowing the circumstances in which new patients could manifest. In other words, new patients are an effect, result or symptom. Not a cause.
What causes new patients?
Profound respect for the patients you already see.
Honoring each patient's goals--even if they aren't yours.
Inspiring hope and creating possibilities.
Busy chiropractors practice these. One reason why such businesses are called a practice.
All things being equal, what many chiropractors seem to overlook is that new patient acquisition is a confluence of two spiritual laws. Specifically, the Law of Cause and Effect mentioned above and the Law of Sowing and Reaping.
Because you reap what you sow. Many chiropractors attempt to reap without sowing. They'll do an outreach event or attend a health fair and measure their success by how many new patients they were able to sign up that day.
In other words, harvesting without planting; reaping without sowing.
This often works--until it doesn't.
And then discouraged, they claim that health fairs, patient lectures and patient appreciation days simply don't work. Because they define “work” as harvesting what someone else has sown.
The willingness to constantly sow is the hallmark of practices that appear to enjoy a constant stream of new patients, seemingly without exerting a lot of effort.
If you sow scarcity, you will reap scarcity.
If you sow judgment, you will reap judgment.
If you sow fear, you will reap fear.
If you sow generosity, you will reap generosity.
If you sow grace, you will reap grace.
If you sow respect, you will reap respect.
There is always a time lag between sowing and reaping. That's the purpose of faith. This time element may create doubt and uncertainty among the least confident and most untrusting. But it's a spiritual law. You may be able to bend it for a season, but not for long.
Which begs the question: what are you doing today so you can reap new patients in six month's time? Or a year from now? Unless you intend to leave the profession in the near future, seems like you'd want to lay the groundwork now for what you'll need then. As the Chinese proverb reminds us, "Dig your well before you are thirsty."
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Keep in touch with all your inactives. That's because the people most likely to come to your practice, are those who have already been. Some inactives think you're angry with them for not following through with your care plan. Others would like to return, but simply need a nudge. Think of your practice as anyone who has ever been in--even if they are currently in a dormant stage of their care.
2. Cultivate your social media following. The opportunity offered by social media to cultivate your tribe of actives and inactives is astonishing. Not particularly computer savvy? You may need a digital advocate.
3. Become a source of referrals. Want to get more referrals? Then give more referrals. Look for ways to solve a patient's problem by pointing them to a trusted resource. Do this and you invoke another spiritual law: The Law of Reciprocity. Avoid the temptation of keeping score. Be generous.
4. Offer no-obligation information. Make it a habit of cultivating new patient prospects by offering eBooks, free information packets and anonymous no-obligation consultations. These are largely inexpensive and your willingness to share information without cost or obligation sets the stage for a decision that may take weeks or months to complete.
5. Handout brochures. I've described the suggested procedure for how to use a brochure elsewhere. They key is actively hand them out. Your brochures aren't for your patients. They're for the people your patients know. Waiting for patients to self-serve from your brochure rack means that you won't be needing many brochures and you won't be getting all the referrals you deserve.
6. Invest in professional photography. Imagine going to Amazon to buy something but there wasn't a picture. Just text. Or, the photo that was there was a stock photo of a perfect family with perfect teeth and perfect lighting. Fake. Yet, this is what many prospective new patients encounter when visiting chiropractor websites.
7. Conduct regular practice events. Coat drives, canned food drives, patient appreciation events, practice birthdays and similar events are ways to give back to your community, pay it forward while manufacturing a reason to create greater top of mind awareness. Become known as a community activist. Eventually your visibility and reputation will increase so your familiarity produces the phenomenon that "everyone goes there because everyone goes there."
The key to all of these is to think long term, expecting little or no new patient results in the now. You're merely sowing. The reaping comes later.
Bill Esteb has been a chiropractic patient and advocate since 1981. He is the creative director of Patient Media and the co-founder of Perfect Patients. He’s been a regular speaker at Parker Seminars and other chiropractic gatherings since 1985. He is the author of 12 books that explore the doctor/patient relationship from a patient’s point of view. His chiropractic blog, in-office consultations, patient focus groups and consulting calls have helped hundreds of chiropractors around the world. His Monday Morning Motivation is emailed to over 10,000 subscribers each week.