Are you like a lot of chiropractors who are sitting around wondering, “What just happened to my world?”

You know what I mean. Prior to the economic downturn in 2009, your “world” was pretty good.  It may not have been great, but it was a lot better than what you’re dealing with today.  Compared to today, the typical clinic was cranking along with a limited number of issues or problems.  For example, to grow your practice the real focus was just working hard to meet your “numbers.”  Whether you were given those numbers by a coach or you set your own, the objective was the same. The focus was on making the sale. The focus was on what you did to encourage the prospect make a positive decision to use your services.

The process was probably pretty standardized as well – just get prospects in the door, deliver your “sales” pitch with the right tone and confidence to drive doubt and confusion into their decision, and then quickly move them into treatment before they knew what was happening. Sure, you lost a number of patients on the backside as they took control of their relationship with your clinic and cancelled out of all the future appointments you built into your treatment plans.  And sure, you may not have built the type of practice that you envisioned when you were younger.  But you were keeping just enough patients to maintain some profitability. And importantly, you were being active.  You were doing something.

The last couple of years have dramatically changed this scenario. Your “world” of a couple years ago is gone – maybe never to return again.  These economically tough times have simply accelerated a movement that has been occurring all along.  This movement is a shift in power from you to your prospective patient.  And the resulting shift in power will force you to rethink how you market and sell your services. From my perspective, I’ve been encouraging you to rethink your marketing for some time and maybe this downturn is just what you need to get motivated to doing the right thing. Some of you have already made the shift. Others are simply hanging on, “hoping” for the market of yesterday to return.

Today is the day to begin to rethink everything about your clinic. If the power has shifted to the consumer, then it’s not about selling, but about experience. It’s not about telling, but about communicating. It’s not about you, but about your patients. I’m not saying this is easy.  If it was easy, you wouldn’t need to read articles like this one. It’s hard work, but it is productive work.

Here are some areas that you should spend time rethinking

Your sales process:

  • Focus on key touch points, messaging, and what are the core motivators of your patients
  • Training of your staff is important – it takes time, repetition, and adaptation
  • Be a solutions provider, not an order-taker
  • Always seek a win-win situation with your patients

Be constantly gathering patient information

  • Get beyond emotions (both yours and your client’s) to base your strategies on information
  • Understand how your customers actually make their decisions
  • Don’t use this information to manipulate but to truly know your patients’ true needs

Determine what patients you need to drop

  • I said drop them
  • Find the patients that take too much of your time, effort, and energy, but leave you with little or no profit
  • Transition them out

Know your customer cost

  • By technique
  • By service offering

Re-evaluate your service offerings

  • Think of your services as your value propositions
  • Begin to consider packaging your services into profitable bundles
  • Show customers how to use your services while also saving money

Never, never, never sacrifice your brand

  • Don’t cheapen your clinic experience
  • The clinic experience must line up to the promise of your brand
  • Brand reputation takes a long time to build
  • You cannot afford to lose or damage your brand

Use targeted promotions

  • Don’t buy into the advertising hype
  • Carefully evaluate each opportunity
  • Be very focused in your approach

Adjust your price as you consider your service offerings

  • Don’t just lower your price to create new patients – in some circumstances you may want to raise your price
  • Think of price in a long-term perspective – not just as driving immediate profits
  • Customers don’t always buy on price –if they believe you are different, then price slides down in priority

Cut costs

  • You may need to downsize in order to grow
  • But don’t cut expenses that will then take you away from your clients

Leadership in tough times takes insight, knowledge, and courage. As you begin this New Year, I encourage you to see your clinic through new eyes – your patient’s eyes.