By Anthony Lombardi
Getting patients (and you) to value your work
By Anthony Lombardi
In September 2015 I wrote a column called “Business is Life.” In it, I spoke about Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., a town of 75,000 people. They have 10 chiropractors along a two-kilometre stretch of the Great Northern Road.
Their average patient visit fee (initial included) is just above $25 and almost every chiropractor in that town charges about the same price. Undervaluing ourselves is one of the top reasons chiropractors fail in practice. When economics change, the demand for our product also changes, which makes us more likely to lower our fees to stimulate more demand. This often leads to gimmicks and off-the-wall incentives just to attract patients, which calls into question our level of professionalism.
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In our industry there have been Internet coupon companies growing in popularity. These companies offer coupons that will market your product or service at a heavily reduced rate to people who are looking for a deal. Businesses employ discount coupons with the idea that if they sell their product or service for a very reduced rate, then the people may like the product so much that they will come again and pay full price next time. However, getting your business involved with these coupon companies can tarnish your image.
People usually buy coupons at a huge reduction in price simply because it is such a good deal – not because they require your service or product. They say: “I might as well for 81 per cent off, why not? I can’t go wrong.”
To illustrate my point I would like you to carefully read over these names: Cadillac, Ferrari, Lamborghini,
Christian Louboutin, Rolex.
You can see these brands provide different products and in general they use better quality material, take more time to make, and have higher manufacturing standards than other similar, less expensive products.
What if you received a coupon for 72 per cent off Christian Louboutin shoes? You would probably think the shoes must not be genuine. When is the last time you saw a coupon advertising 50 per cent off Ferraris? That is because Ferrari carries an unchanging value associated with them. Drastically reducing the cost of these products would cause them to lose their value. There is a distinct difference between not being able to afford something and not being able to value it. I may not be able to afford to buy a new Ferrari but I can certainly value and appreciate the fine Italian engineering, the hand-made parts, the hand assembly of the engine. Others may look at $9,000 Rolex watch and say: “What waste of money, I bought a watch for $11 and it works great.” To say a Rolex is “a waste of money” is a comment that under-appreciates and de-values Rolex. One may not value the fact that the watch was hand-made and assembled by the best watchmakers in the world with the utmost precision and the finest materials. It too is a work of art.
However, Rolex is not concerned with what portion of the socio-economic demographic does not use their product – they are focused on the segment that uses and values their work. In business and in life we must set standards for ourselves. What people want more than money, more than material goods, more than anything – is to be valued. There needs to be an equal value exchange between us and our patients, employers, co-workers, friends and significant others if that relationship plans to see the future.
In the Business is Life piece, I stressed the importance of differentiating yourself. There is no such thing as a bad economy, but merely a redistribution of funds within the economy. It’s like a poker game: there are ten players and each player begins with $10,000 each, growing the economy to a net worth of $100,000. After 15 hands, there is still $100,000 in the economy, only the amount of dollars each player has may vary – some have more than the amount they started with and others have less.
In general, regardless of the economy, the same amount of money exists for us to reach the goals we set for ourselves. When there is competition for your product, you must not reduce your product value – you need to be different in order to attract those who can afford and are willing to pay for your services.
I believe, as chiropractors and business owners, we either make a decision to be the best in our community or we just make the subconscious decision to be average. If you decide to be the best in your community, you must stay clear of coupons. If you aspire to be a Ferrari you wouldn’t spend your time studying to be anything other than the best.
Anthony LOMBARDI, DC, is a private consultant to athletes in the NFL, CFL and NHL, and founder of the Hamilton Back Clinic, a multidisciplinary clinic. He teaches his fundamental EXSTORE Assessment System and practice building workshops to various health professionals. For more information, visit exstore.ca.