Let’s face the facts. Although the average chiropractor does see an occasional “walk-in” new patient, this is more the exception than the rule. We, as chiropractors, consider that there is a minimum number of new patients that we need to see each week in order to be satisfied that our practice will continue to grow at the expected rate. The question, is what do we need to do to insure that new patients continue to arrive at our front door?
Every business should have a business expansion plan, as growth of a business normally occurs by acquiring new business. Whether it is a new customer, new client, or new patient, new business is our lifeblood. Wouldn’t it be helpful, in the case of a chiropractic practice, if that minimum number of new patients were planned for? The average practice would grow almost immediately. If you knew that there would be ten new patients in your clinic scheduled for next week, and you had your usual amount of “unplanned” new patients, your new patient worries would simply disappear. By planning your new patient activities in advance, you are essentially guaranteeing yourself that, by doing activities this week, you will have new patients five weeks from now.
The first step in this process of planning for acquiring new patients is simply to make the decision that you are going to take control of this area of the practice. Then, begin putting together your business expansion-planning calendar, a month-at-a-glance style calendar that goes at least a year into the future. The calendar should be on your desk where it can be looked at every single day. A list of all possible new patient procedures should be made. This list has endless possibilities, but begins with the most straightforward activities—perhaps those that you do daily or weekly—like asking for referrals from your existing patients. Pick Monday and Thursday next week for this process and write the activity in the calendar so that it is planned, and you know exactly when you will be doing this. You will then want to plug this activity into your calendar for the next six months or so. Do this same procedure with all of the activities you can think of that, realistically, you will accomplish, and insert them into your calendar well into the future.
Perhaps there is a health fair in your community every three months. Make the necessary connections with the necessary people, and get those events scheduled into your calendar. Next, schedule your outside lectures for the next year. Schedule your staff training for each week. Perhaps once or twice per month, you need to get into your local business community and meet some key people. Insert in your calendar that you need to do video consultations with your patients once per week.
These are only a few examples of new patient procedures; however, all too often, the doctor just “hopes for the best” by doing marketing procedures as needed or when he thinks of doing them or, worse yet, when that number of new patients is too low, and the stress levels begin to be too high. If the activities are pre-planned, and written down, and the calendar gets looked at on a regular basis, the activities will be completed.
Once the calendar is complete, then the ball is essentially in your court. You must look at the calendar, and do the pre-scheduled activities. Once one is completed, make a large blue checkmark over that action so that it is clear that you did, in fact, do it. These actions can be adjusted within the calendar in order to make the most effective use of your time. If you do not complete a scheduled task, and you realize it too late in that day to do it, then simply write in you calendar in red the words “not done.” Then reschedule that activity as soon as possible and complete it. As you view your month at-a-glance calendar, after the first few weeks, you will easily be able to tell if your business expansion planning is on track as you note all of the blue checkmarks, or way off the track if it is full of red ink words that say “not done.”
Get started on your calendar process as soon as possible, and watch the difference in your practice as well as the difference in yourself. Once you have this system in place, and you are comfortable with your daily, weekly and monthly tasks being completed, you will have no trouble scheduling a little free time to relax and enjoy yourself.
Dr. Maurice A. Pisciottano, Executive Director of Pro-Solutions for Chiropractic, is a practicing chiropractor, noted lecturer, author, researcher and teacher. He is well known for his practice management expertise and new patient development programs. He has devoted the past 14 years to the development of the instrumentation and the computerization of chiropractic treatment and documentation. Worldwide, Dr. Pisciottano has trained over 10,000 chiropractors and treated over 650,000 patients with the Pro-Adjuster®. He regularly lectures at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, IA, and at Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Pisciottano is an honors graduate from the Palmer College of Chiropractic. He can be reached at Pro-Solutions for Chiropractic in Pittsburgh, PA, at 1-877-942-4284.