M ark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, once said about his basketball franchise, "Everyone has thousands of entertainment choices and we don't want to create any excuses for them to go and spend their money somewhere else." This is the way every chiropractor must think in a 21st century, service oriented, practice.
Consumers have more choices for which they can choose to spend their money, today, than ever before in our society. These opportunities range any where from flat screen televisions, to new cars, to plastic surgery. The chiropractor down the street is no longer your biggest competitor. Every retail store and service provider is now competing with you for the discretionary income of your patients. You need to make it a priority to have the best customer service, the best staff, and the best results, to make sure there is no excuse for anyone to walk out your door and never return.
Of course, the attrition of some patients due to death or relocation is to be expected, but losing patients because of less than stellar service is unacceptable. Your patients have money they are going to spend somewhere and, if they’re your patients, that means, at some point in time, they were willing to spend it with you. Don't give them an easy reason to change their mind and go somewhere else.
Most chiropractors realize that, if they are to be profitable, retention rates must be kept at a high level. In order to do that, doctors must have loyal patients. What many chiropractors fail to realize is that those patients need to be highly regarded as an integral part of the practice. Returning patients don’t just add value to your practice; those patients are the most valuable asset you have!
We see many chiropractors that are more worried about where the next patient will come from and when the next dollar is going to come through the door; all the while, ignoring the dollars that have already walked in and out of their door several times.
As chiropractors reflect on the worth of their practice, most likely they think of items that are listed on a balance sheet, or a profit and loss statement. However, the most valuable pieces to any practice aren’t “pieces” at all, they are patients. Every other piece of equipment in your office can be replaced but, if you lose the patients, none of it really matters.
Think of this as patient equity. The amount of investment in time and quality work you put into that patient is considered an investment in your patient equity. Like a house, having more equity in your patient base leads to a more successful practice. Also, like a house, your patient base can truly be considered an asset. When you look at returning patients as an asset that add equity to your practice, it is easier to understand why they should be valued and every effort should be made to keep them coming back. Following are a few ways to do that:
Ensure that you are maintaining the patient/doctor relationship. Protect yourself from losing your patients to the many other products and services vying for their money.
Another way to protect that equity is being mindful of quality in customer service (both on the phone and in person) and in the service you provide them with─chiropractic care. If you think there is a problem with an established patient, it may be forgivable, but with a new patient, it may lead to a rocky future or no future at all.
Also, find ways to keep your current patients involved and lock in patient loyalty when they aren't physically in the practice. Social media is one such method that excels in this area. The more you can entwine your practice into their life, the harder it will be for them to go anywhere else.
Never underestimate the value your patient base adds to your practice. It is one of the most important assets you have. Understanding this concept will enable you to continue to invest in your patient equity which, in turn, will make your practice more successful.
Dr. Todd Osborne, a 1989 graduate of Palmer College, ran a successful high volume multiple doctor practice, and is currently Vice President of AMC, Inc., as well as an author and lecturer. Visit www.amcfamily.com or call (877) AMC-7117 for more information.
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