Posted by Matthew Loop | 26 Comments
I had to write this blog post after recalling an interesting memory from my first year in chiropractic practice. I can laugh about it now that my mindset and attitude are totally different.
When I first graduated from chiropractic school and went into private practice in August 2004, I was terrible at collecting money from patients. Actually, let me re-phrase that, I was terrible at asking patients for money. The major reason behind this was that I really didn’t understand the value of the service that I was providing to new patients that walked through the door. Seriously, I felt bad asking for $35 for visit.
Well, one day a man walks through the door in tremendous pain (we’ll call him Mr. X). I took a thorough case-history, shot X-rays, treated him with therapy to relax his muscles and gave him a chiropractic adjustment. At the end of the office visit, he was feeling much better which made me feel great. However, as I went to collect the payment for the initial consult, exam, and therapy, the man insisted on giving me a sob story and began negotiations concerning my fee. Since I was new in practice, I felt bad as I didn’t want to financially cripple this person and not have him come-back for the sessions he needed.
So, I chose to financially help him out on his first visit and subsequent visits. I still remember his 3rd visit very clearly. Not the actual treatment, but everything leading up to. So, I’m in my office with another doctor when we see this beautiful S-Class Mercedes roll-up. We both admired the car then were totally shocked as a familiar face stepped-out. I think you know where this is going. Oh, but it gets better! So, Mr. X comes through the door and we give him a friendly greeting even though we were in a bit of disbelief based on previous interaction. Mr. X signs in with his right hand, the same one we now observed a high-end Rolex watch attached to.
Now, there is a possibility this could’ve been all for show but patients later-on verified exactly what I thought. He was a very well-off real estate investor but he was cheap when it came to certain things…. a la medical / chiro expenses. He was cheap and I got caught in a game that one should never be caught in. The first mistake I made during the initial consult was that I didn’t understand the value of the service that I provided. I felt I needed to compromise because “I needed the business,” or so I thought. The second mistake I made was that I was now falling into the category of the “cheapest guy on the block.”
I did get referrals from Mr. X but they were low-fee based referrals. His friends were coming to see me because they knew they could chop me down on the price. They weren’t coming to see me because I had a unique selling proposition or that I had a one-of-a-kind service they couldn’t find anywhere else. In a few weeks, I had a fairly high volume practice, but I was working for pennies and totally miserable!! It was like I couldn’t do enough for the newly acquired patients when they came in for treatment.
Isn’t it interesting how those that pay the least, many times are NEVER satisfied, want even more, and create the most problems? That’s true offline in your practice and in online business as well. Think about it. When someone commits to a corrective care-plan or pays up-front for the treatment you recommend, do they wind-up being problem patients? No way! This is not a coincidence.
In fact, committed corrective care patients are more likely to stick to their care plans and follow your recommendations, while referring the family and other quality new patients to your office. This is so true and you know it! It’s the people that come through the door and don’t want to pay anything (regardless if they have it or not) that end-up being the biggest headaches.
This point of view may sound a little insensitive, but I’m not writing this to win friends. However, I don’t want you to think that I don’t help people that are genuinely in need because I do. You’re a trained healthcare professional, though, and you deserve much more than you may be giving yourself at this point in time. When I had my epiphany and began to take a strategic look at how I really wanted to position myself, my life changed and I made much more money. This lead to more freedom and flexibility which made me happy. I stopped trying to be “el cheapo” and started to charge what I knew my service / information was worth!
A good example of this is the $7,000-$10,000 I charge and regularly receive for my one-on-one, in person Total Immersion Day business marketing and growth consulting. I put myself in a position to attract the chiropractors and business owners that I want to work with who are action-takers and are driven to succeed no matter what external circumstance says. I don’t spend my time worrying about those that can’t afford the service or that are looking for a discount.
I don’t have to “sell” anyone and the monetary results that I get for clients speak for themselves. One of the most incredible aspects are the referrals I generate from these platinum, VIP members. Talk about high-quality superstars! I also don’t accept everyone and there’s an application / interview process. I do business on my terms, giving clients a fortune in use value and a skill-set that will financially benefit them for a lifetime in return for a minimal investment on their part.
Are you incorporating any of these principles in your current practice or business? Have you sat down, taken a piece of paper out, and written down what your ideal patient should be like? If not, I strongly suggest doing that immediately since it will give you CLARITY for the SPECIFIC customer you’re looking for. Those that are the most successful in business and in life typically are very specific and have clear mental picture of what it is they want!
The bottom line is, to set your terms and command the fees that you deserve is one of the best feelings in the world and gives you the ultimate freedom. Your income goes up, worrying goes down and you can begin to focus on the things that really matter in life. The only person that’s stopping you is you! There is no need to feel you have to accept everyone that comes through your doors. Likewise, there is no need to feel obligated to keep patients / customers that are continuous draining your energy. Sometimes you have to know when to say “you’re fired!”
Several years ago, I had to take a long and hard look about how I was positioning myself in my local community and if this was really the path I wanted to go down. I cannot stress how important branding and positioning are in any market, not just for chiropractors in practice. You have to be confident in yourself, have a unique selling proposition, have testimonials from clients you’ve helped, and deliver a fortune in service / use value that far outweighs the cash value you charge.
If you understand this concept, you can literally command any fee you want and you’ll never be perceived as being the “cheapest” in your market. You won’t have to worry about crummy insurance reimbursement affecting your bottom line, either. Let me know what you think of this post by leaving a comment below
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