3 steps to a more focused practice
By Angelo Santin
There is no doubt that chiropractors have to constantly balance responsibilities. Not only do we have to be great healers, we need to be effective communicators and marketers, and have the responsibility of doing all the small things necessary to run a business. Having said this, however, the primary focus should always be the delivery of excellent care to the patient in front of you. This is the most fruitful and efficient way to grow your practice.
We can all admit, however, that the day-to-day business aspects can creep into our patient time or worse, don’t get done at all. I want to share how working on your practice, and not just in it, will help your practice grow to the next level.
Step 1: Delegate
Many chiropractors are micromanagers. This adds many non-essential tasks to your day that, with time, will likely be detrimental to your focus with patients. Many of you have unbelievable staff that you are underutilizing. You need to artfully share your vision of your clinic with your staff and highlight the importance of their help in letting you focus on just your patients. Once this is clear I want you to take a moment to write down the 10 most important things you do in your office. Here is the challenge: I want you to pick your top three from the list and enroll your staff to help you with the remaining items from the list. Finally, and most importantly, you must acknowledge and reward your staff for the extra effort they will put into this. I can’t state enough how important this step is.
Step 2: Allocate the time
Once tasks have been offloaded to your wonderful staff, the next step is for you to schedule some time into your calendar to work on anything about your practice that does not have to do with taking care of patients. Please do not take this step lightly. If you don’t book this time and make a commitment to it, you will always fill the time with something else. From personal experience, ignoring this special time will lead to lack of clarity in practice and the inability to actually do the work needed to reach your big goals.
Step 3: Maximize your return on investment (ROI)
I want you to spend the time on what will give you the greatest returns down the road. You will be able to figure this out eventually on your own, but I would like to expedite the process and share the things I know to be the best ROI for your practice.
There is no greater return than spending the time and resources on advancing your and your CA’s knowledge and certainty in chiropractic. This includes seminars, professional development days and other forms of extra training. Another great idea is hanging around successful and like-minded chiropractors. Most of us learn by observing, hearing stories and sharing lessons from practice. Remember that the extra training doesn’t always need to be expensive. They can be done as cost-effectively as possible and will most often produce the greatest returns.
Building strategic alliances
Most people in our profession assume the best alliances are with other health-care providers – including medical doctors. I want to challenge that assumption and offer a more effective approach. I believe the best alliances you can foster are with your current patients. Increasing their knowledge and giving them the tools to refer will lead to the best ROI for your time. When it comes to anything outside your practice I’m going to be blunt and to the point. Choose people to align with that are like-minded and believe what you believe; otherwise, this will be a complete waste of your time. It does not have to be another health-care provider. It can include gyms, business owners and community program co-ordinators, just for examples. The key to building alliances is focusing on the need of the other party and not just telling them about chiropractic. If you can fulfill their needs and add value to their bottom-line the relationship will likely be sustainable.
Knowing the numbers
If asked, would you know exactly what your expenses are to the point of knowing where every dollar goes? Would you know what your patient visit average is, or what your cancellation rate is? Would you know the rate of return you are getting on your investments and how much your advisor is costing you? Do you have financial goals and plan to execute them or, like many Canadians, are you unclear in this area? You might be wondering why this is even relevant. Having a clear understating of your practice statistics and expenses, and having your finances in order will give you the ability to run your practice from a position of abundance and not neediness. This will allow you to make your clinical recommendations based solely on what the patient requires. This will definitely be noticed by the patients and give more credibility to you and the profession.
Failing to clearly define patient care times and put aside specific time to work on your practice are two mistakes that lead to poor focus and lack of growth. Delegating more and focusing your free time on what will give you the best returns will give your practice the drive it needs to serve more people. Serving more people means healthier communities – a thing we can all agree is a step toward the greater good.
Remember, though, the change needs to begin from the inside out. Good luck!
Angelo Santin, DC, operates a busy subluxation-based family practice in Thunder Bay, Ont., and is president of the Thunder Bay Chiropractic Society. Dr. Santin is also a Carter Universal proficiency-rated chiropractic coach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-344-4606.