Success Strategies for 2009
Jan 15, 2009, 22:33
We enter the New Year in unprecedented times. There is no denying this. We do not live in our offices as islands, separated from the rest of the country or world. Some websites will tell you that the end is near. I have been reading doomsayers since the 70’s and they still sound the same. I think it bolsters their ego and gives them a cause, but that is just my opinion.
But it would be wrong to pretend everything is as it always was and we live in prosperous times. Not just our economy, but the world’s economy is going through massive, even revolutionary changes. But there are, and have been, other changes taking place as well. In the last 15 years, electronics have gone through many unthinkable transitions for us coming from the mid 20th Century. Social changes world wide have taken us beyond the Third Wave, as Alvin Toffler described in his book. And, there is the ongoing “Wellness Revolution” and “Green Revolution”, which those of us in the chiropractic profession can take pride in the fact that we have been in the forefront. Needless to say, the “Times Are a Changing.”
But with this change comes opportunity. The country is going through a severe “cleanse”: parasite cleanse, colon cleanse, you name it. It is a time that offers many new avenues for growth and prosperity.
Jeffrey M. Stibel, an entrepreneur and brain scientist writes in recent article in the Harvard Business Review:
The 2008 recession is an economic firestorm unlike anything the country has seen since the Great Depression. But 2009 is shaping up to be a trigger for an unprecedented surge of innovation that may be one of the most important turning points in the last 100 years. (article)
Let’s look at some general strategies that will help you prosper in this New Year. We offer a few below and will mail out more practical action steps soon.
1. First, don’t panic. Danger is always near, especially for a small business owner. So what else is new? Whether it is your association’s alarming headlines about how doctors are earning less or chiropractic gurus advocating working for massage therapists, negative news is all pretty routine, really. People have always been around to promote the bad news. So what? Good news is hardly ever promoted.
2. Motivation. It is fine to face the brutal facts, but what is happening with a Wall Street investment company is not as important as what is happening in your community. There is bad news. Negative news can distract and dishearten not only you, but also your staff and patients. Limit your exposure to national news and talk shows. Get the facts, fine. But more importantly, every day, look for new reasons to renew your purpose and drive to achieve your goals.
3. Appreciate your profession. Chiropractic works. It has, it does, and it will. People benefit from it. People need it, in hard times and good times. These are facts that do not change. You have a skill that you will always have and that can’t be shipped to Asia and that will always be needed and effective. It is a million dollar skill.
4. Your success is just between you and your patients. You don’t work for a corporation. You are an independent business professional as well as an independent health care professional. Except from you patients, you can’t be fired. But they can fire you. So, take care of them better than you ever have. The chief difference between you and other options they have is chiefly the connection you generate with them. What is the quality of relationship you have developed with your patients as a result of your extra-ordinary service and care?
5. Health is Wealth: Sell Health. Get across to your patients and community that health is the only real wealth and this is what your office is uniquely prepared to deliver. Regardless of the employment condition of your patients and potential patients, their health is their greatest wealth. If they are healthy, they can work 3 jobs if needed. If they are not healthy, they won’t be able to work even one. This is why they have to work on maintaining and improving their health. This has to be a recurring message you get across to your patients.
6. Constant improvement. But only the best business will survive and thrive. Your business organization has to become better, or die. We have seen mediocre practices struggle along that did not and would not improve their procedures. In better times, they could still survive. These types will more than likely go the way of the dinosaur unless they step up their “game.” I am not advocating “social Darwinism”, but it is an observation that the better (healthier) companies survive and thrive, and poorly managed ones fail. We recommend adopting a policy of what we call the “Practice Development Process”. (Small plug: this is what we do and teach.)
7. More for less. With a process of constant improvement you can work out how you can get more done with less effort. Economize does not mean don’t spend money. It means spend money better. Get more “bang” for your buck. For every dime you spend, you should get back half dollar, more or less.
8. Triple your patient base. Whatever you have planned for marketing, triple it. Some of your patients may not be able to see you as many times or pay the same fees as before. If this is the case, and I am definitely not promoting this, you have to talk about #5 above. You will also have to increase your volume of patient visits. It is no longer “how much you can get from how little, but how little you can get from how much”, to paraphrase an old quote from B.J. Palmer.
Over the Christmas, most stores did poorly, except for Wal-Mart and McDonalds. I am not advocating reducing your fees. You probably do not charge enough as it is. But, you have to be prepared to offer different plans based upon the time of payment (payment on assignment, at time of service, or in advance.), as well as other programs.
Now is a great opportunity for growth and entrepreneurship. You are the captain of your ship as it crosses the seas through storms and gales. Stand at the helm (steering wheel) as the misty wind blows and know that you can beat any storm and take your crew and passengers to sunny skies and calm waters.
It is a challenge, an adventure, and a worthwhile goal you and your team can achieve.
We will be there too.
See you on deck!
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