10 Ways to Improve Your Practice Using Little or No Money
By Gilles Lamarche, DC
Do you think it takes thousands of advertising and marketing dollars to be well-known in your community and build a thriving practice? Many DCs think so, but this has not been my experience.
To the contrary, I have relied on ideas, procedures, and service orientations that cost little or no money and have actually proven quite beneficial for building and maintaining a chiropractic practice. Here are 10 ideas that will help you deliver a more patient centered experience while growing your practice, all without breaking the bank.
1. Develop a Servant Attitude "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." How do you do that? In my opinion, developing a servant attitude is the greatest calling. When you choose to speak the truth about what chiropractic offers humanity and trust that those who want your service will be attracted to you, then you have taken the first step to developing a servant attitude. When you focus on what's in it for the patient or potential patient and let go of what's in it for you, then you become more attractive. Your heart opens and you get closer to achieving the concept developed by Dr. James W. Parker: "Loving service - my first technique."
Of course, this requires that you introduce yourself to people as a chiropractor, are willing to speak and explain chiropractic, make yourself available to service clubs and groups to fill their need for speakers, and are willing to answer questions. For this to happen, people need to know who you are. A great chiropractor once described a technique he called WOC - whip out cards. Yes, give your card to everyone you meet. An easy way to accomplish this is to ask them for their card first.
When you give your business card - one that I would hope is professional and contains all your contact information including address, phone number, Web site address and e-mail address - say something to the effect of, "If I can ever serve you or someone you know, please give me a call." Find opportunities to share your card, such as the waitress at your favorite restaurant, a service station attendant, the dry cleaner, the clerk at the clothing store; anyone and everyone. Whenever you are asked your name, offer your business card.
2. Learn to Be Focused Take an appropriate amount of time every single morning to focus on your intention for that day. The intention I used to recite before seeing a patient was quite simple. I would look at the intake form (for a new patient) or the patient chart for a regular patient, focus on their name, look at the history or the previous care rendered, mentally connect with that person, and before entering the room, tell myself the following: Guide me to do what is right for [patient's name] today. At that moment, I knew that my intention to serve the individual was pure.
3. Create an Inviting Office If people don't want to step into your office, your chances of maintaining and growing your patient base are slim. Make your office an inviting, relevant experience and patients will come. Eliminate all clutter and get rid of anything and everything that is not health related. Contrary to popular belief, there is no need for social magazines, newspapers etc., in a chiropractor's reception room. All information in your office should be health and wellness related.
4. Smile From the Inside Out Put a smile on your face and in your heart every day you enter your office, and make sure you have that same smile on your face and in your heart whenever you meet or greet any patient. Be prepared physically, mentally and spiritually to serve your patients. Be focused on each patient's needs and talk health and healing only. There is no need to have discussions on football, hockey, or current events. Patients go to your office to have you serve their health needs. Talk chiropractic all day long. It's not about coming off as stiff or unfriendly; it's about being the authority on health and wellness your patients deserve.
5. Always Be Thorough Conduct a thorough consultation and examination with each patient. Your goal should be to "wow" your patients. My goal was always to have the patient leave and think: "I have never been to a doctor who listened to me that well, and I have never had such a complete and thorough examination." That experience itself will cause the patient to have a deeper respect and trust for you, and thus the health recommendations you offer. By accepting your recommendations, the patient's quality of life will improve, and your practice will thrive.
6. Prepare a Written ROF Following the consultation and examination, review all information and prepare a written report of findings to share with the patient on their next visit. A written report of findings is a step many doctors do not utilize, even though it can have a major impact on patient follow-through, results, retention and referrals. Retaining patients and getting new ones is by far the easiest, least expensive way to grow your practice.
7. Educate Your Patients Patient follow-through is based on an individual's level of commitment and level of understanding. Both can be positively impacted when patients attend an orientation lecture or health care class. Make that a staple part of your regular patient intake procedures and see how patients buy in to your recommendations.
8. Talk Chiropractic Use chiropractic table-talk when adjusting. Always relate information about the patient's spine and nervous system, and how proper nervous-system function enhances overall health. You may even choose to focus on a topic of the day or a topic of the week. For example, when palpating a patient's cervical spine, you may choose to mention function and dysfunction of the atlas and how that has been shown to be related to colic. Or when palpating the mid-thoracic spine, you may choose to relate how the nervous system in that area controls and maintains digestion.
9. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Referrals My technique for asking for referrals was relatively quiet and definitely not obtrusive to the patient. I would simply say something like, "Molly, if you know anyone who is looking for improved health, would you remember to tell them about our office? As you know, my mission is to help people experience an improved and high quality of life. The only way I can do that is to get the message of chiropractic to more people, and I count on people like you to be ambassadors and share this message." And I would end with, "Doesn't that make sense?" And of course, patients usually answered yes.
10. Read and Share Inspirational Quotes Inspirational quotes are just that - inspirational. They prepare your mind and your heart to serve. Choosing to be an example physical, mental and spiritual health will definitely cause more people to be attracted you, your clinic and the services you offer. To that end, make sure you and your entire staff read motivational quotes daily.
So there you have it: Ten ways to grow your practice with little or no money. Yes, all these ideas appear to be simple, and there's a good reason for that perception: they are simple. However, although simple, they do require that you make a commitment to follow through if your goal is to achieve better results in your practice and in your life. And isn't that the goal of every doctor of chiropractic?
Dr. Gilles Lamarche maintained a successful chiropractic practice in northern Ontario for 25 years, implementing a clinical and practice template based on what he learned at Parker Seminars. He is now vice president of seminars, alumni and development at Parker College of Chiropractic. Contact Dr. LaMarche with questions and comments at