Are you the Cheapest Chiropractor on the Block?

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.

Chiropractor MarketingWell, 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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About the Author

Dr. Matthew Loop is an author, speaker, and the most sought after social media revenue strategist in North America. He’s famous for showing celebrities, entrepreneurs and small business owners how to create wildly profitable, sustainable 5 figure per month passive income streams by harnessing the power of the Internet. Connect with him on Twitter and Google+.

Comments

26 Responses to “Are you the Cheapest Chiropractor on the Block?”

  1. Dr. Daniel says:

    Good article! I see way too many docs undervaluing their services. I’ve been guilty of that in the past as well. Establish a patient base that values your services and has no problem paying you what you are worth, and practice becomes a lot more fun!

  2. Matthew Loop says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Dr. Daniel :)

  3. Great article like usual Matt! More chiropractors need to learn that bargaining or lowering their fees gives no value to what we do. We are doctors and provide so much to patients.
    I had a similar situation when I first bought my practice 5 years ago…a guy who was seeing the other chiropractor that complained when I was raising fees…. from the $30/visit to cash patients the previous doctors was charging… oh and $20 to some, $10 to others. But when I saw the guy drive in a $120,000 mercedes, and start talking about how he owns a plane and flies around the country and was retired at age 45…and at current was nearing 60…I realized what had to be done.

  4. KW says:

    I am a patient of chiropractic care:

    Dont’ be afraid to point blank ask for fees if necessary. I have been a chronic pain patient (thanks to chiropractic for one, I’m much better and keep improving). When in a lot of pain especially head/facial related pain my mind was in such a daze, I would literally forget when I got to the desk if I got to talking to pay (even if I had my debit card out! – Without thinking I’d be talking and put it back in my wallet). I’m thankful for one receptionist who says “um, do you have your payment?” if I do this. This is not a problem for me at offices who request at least co-pays and deductibles up front. I’d prefer to pay up front. I’m more likely to forget or not get around to paying later. When I had a lot of headpain and facial pain, getting on the phone to make a payment was torture as talking on the phone made things worse. Looking at bills through an aching face – not easy either. I had the money – was just hard to get to taking care of things. A clinic doesn’t have to be rude, one can show sympathy for the patient but still ask for the money. Don’t ever feel sheepish.

  5. I love this!!! I’ve heard this so many times and only wish I heard it coming out the door. This is why docs who’ve had huge struggle and strife with their health in their life get the value of their service. I’ve learned this the hard way, but knowing and owning this is so very profound. I find it very interesting who will and will not pay for your services, and those who value what you provide totally get it.

  6. KW says:

    ps
    I would pay more for quality care. “Free” help as in “free initial consultations” or exams doesn’t always equal quality I’ve found. If one offers free services like this be sure quality of care isn’t sacrificed just because you are doing it for free.

  7. Corey says:

    Thanks for a great article! I own a personal training company and just had this conversation with all of our trainers. You are dead right…my “cheap” clients were always the biggest hassle. People that pay value your time and expertise.

  8. Matthew Loop says:

    KW, Dr. Russell, Dr. Frederick, Corey…. Thanks for the great comments and insight!

  9. Love the article. How do you create a USP for yourself in the community to command the big fees?

  10. Matt, as usual, right on the money, (no pun intended). Its chiropractors that have devalued chiropractic, which is a big part of the reason the public to an extent still preys on weaker docs. But its not just chiros, I’ve personally witnessed this in more MDs than I care to recount.

    The solution is DCs and all private healthcare professionals need to “own” a clear financial policy, in their heads and their hearts of not personally suffering financially, or caving to patients and insurance carriers who prey on them. And sometimes clients also have to pay me several thousand dollars to actually see this for themselves in practice.

    For example, in the neuropathy clinic I’ve had two more miracle cases just in the last week, one post Guillain Barre’ with 20 years of misery, better in 10 days!…

    And just today, post herpetic neuralgia, not a decent night sleep in 5 years, and renal failure from his meds. ONE treatment, he slept though the night. He’s 85, didn’t flinch after finding medicare did not pay for most of his care, and gladly paid handsomely, in full.

    Now docs, what is this care worth? I calculate we saved about a half million dollars over the life long care of helping just 2 of these extraordinary cases…

    And if patients do not value themselves by their own choices, we simply can not serve them. Period.

    John

  11. Carrie says:

    This is good! The best blog I’ve read from you so far. I’m in this process and loving the results so far. Thank you Matthew.

  12. thanks again Matt,

  13. It was even worse for me :)

    Two years into practice, I thought I had been doing well selling prepaid year plans for 80+ visits, just like my “coach” at the time taught. Theoretically, I should have been making $40. But something wasn’t adding up because I was dead broke. Ran the real numbers, using actual stats, and found out I was getting $17 a visit. Changed things immediately, figured out marketing, and the rest is history.

  14. You hit the nail on the head. I think people in every profession struggle with this as well. I am leading a book club, and we are reading, “Earn What You’re Worth: A Widely Sophisticated Approach to Investing In Your Career-and Yourself”, by Nicole Williams. It’s out of print but available on Amazon for a penny. It’s a good read for women in any profession that struggle with owning their value and asking for what they are worth!

    Thanks for such a great article.

  15. Drkev says:

    Does this post ever hit home. EVERY TIME I have adjusted my fees I have had a problem with that person. It never fails. We stopped playing let’s make a deal and the practice has never been more fun and profitable!

  16. If you are having problems converting patients using pre pays and or getting them to commit to your recommendations it could be because you are being perceived as the generalist, commodotized chiropractor. What are you doing to attract high quality, back against the wall (no pun intended), scared to death of surgery type of patients? Knowing how to maximize your ROI comes from having real world, been there done that, split tested, new prospective patient processing systems. The key is to make it easy to do business with you, without cutting your throat on low fees, while creating trust and value where patients feel like they’ve made the choice to do business with you without being pressured or inauthenticly over sold.

  17. Adrianne says:

    I’m still in school and found this post to be very valuable. Thank you.

  18. If you don’t respect yourself, your time and your worth. How do you expect others to do that?
    Great post and I hope that many more chiropractors would understand your message.

  19. Good stuff Matt. So true. Wish DC’s got more “in the trenches” stories like these at the end of school because I think there are very few young DC’s that feel confident and comfortable charging reasonable fees their first month or even first few years in practice. I hated that feeling of wondering what they were going to say about the charge. Good job.

    Dr. Aaron Gaily, D.C.

  20. Matthew Loop says:

    Thanks, Aaron… Confidence does play a large factor like you mentioned, especially in newer graduates.

  21. Dr. Shana says:

    How do you know what to charge though? Being new in practice I’m having a hard time coming up with my fee schedule.

  22. Matthew Loop says:

    Hi Dr. Shana… I would start calling around to other doctors offices in the area to get a good idea of what everyone else charging. That’s probably the easiest way. Or, you can look on their websites. The main thing is, you don’t want patients to have a perception that you’re cheap. They won’t value your service as much.

  23. Jusitn DC says:

    Price does not dictate value… Can you really put a price on health?? I ask this question on the white board in my office all the time: If I charged you more would your value care more?? I don’t think so. Remember “selling” huge expensive care plans b/c we are “doctors” & thats what doctors should be payed is not what chiropracTIC is about.

  24. Matthew Loop says:

    Dr. Justin…. Actually, most people subconsciously associate higher prices with better quality. It doesn’t matter if it’s actually true, or not. This is simply how we’ve been conditioned. Believe it or not, people do value a service / product more if they pay a higher price.

    Every doctor has a different idea as to what constitutes a premium. I’m saying that chiropractors should provide a valuable service and we should be compensated accordingly. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    That doesn’t mean that you don’t help those that legitimately cannot pay the fee. If you look at those leaders that have spread the chiropracTIC message, they’re all wealthy. Why? Yes, because they helped people BUT they were also good businessmen, gave value, and were compensated well.

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