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What We Have Learned About Tough Months
By Edward Petty
Feb 21, 2007, 21:57

How many of you got hit by winter this month?

For many chiropractic offices, February has been a tough one: snow closures and extreme cold have had an impact on some of the office numbers we have visited and others we have talked to. Add to this, personal and personnel distractions, and as the month comes to a close, some doctors and their chiropractic staffs are not so happy.


We have seen and dealt with crashed numbers and down months for many years. Pretty routine really. Here are a few things we have learned about tough months.

1.  Tough Months Happen.  We all hit banana peels. It is part of business. It is part of life.  Accept it.  This does not mean you should adjust your standards or goals to a new low. Keep your goals and standards as high as you want. Just know that, now and then, bad months happen. 

2.  Lessons. Each down month, each banana peel, each slip, fall, or crash with your practice is really a lesson.  Nothing more.  Learn from each slip.  Learn the lesson. It is there.

3.  Fear. But sometimes we become so gripped with fear, frustration, disappointment, resentment or anger, that it is hard to see this - the lesson.  Emergencies should cause us to act. But often, our impulse is to react. When we react out of a fear or negative based emotion, we often generalize what the problem is, and try to fix everything, or the wrong thing, or person. 

4.  Cause and Effect. Every negative effect has a cause. Sometimes the cause occurred months earlier.  You did something, or did not do something, that is just now hitting you.  Much like a football coach on Mondays, you have to review past performances and discover what caused the problem and fix it. 

5.  Scores.  Even if a crisis seems to be occurring, look at the numbers, metrics, performance monitors, or statistics to determine what is really going on.  Often it is not as bad as it seems. Put things in perspective. If the numbers are down, how far down? Using your numbers helps minimize the drama.

6.  Interruption of Proven Procedures. Most bad months come from interruptions in proven procedures. For example, a staff member leaves the front desk or the billing department, or you went on vacation. You stopped sending out your patient newsletter, discontinued monthly events, and just gave up on patient education lectures altogether. Then, snow and ice storms shut things down. No matter what, just try to keep proven procedures going.

If your numbers are down, find out which of the above lessons apply to you. You can give your consultant a call, get help in diagnosing the condition,  and in working out action steps to get things back on track to reach your yearly goals.

Generally, the solutions to bad months include:

  • Relax. Anger almost never produces good results.
  • Diagnose the Situation. Confront the “brutal facts”. Look at your statistics and review past changes to find the cause of the problem.
  • Action Steps. Once you find the cause of the problem, work out action steps to fix it.
  • Mission. Get re-energized on what you are doing and why. And, get the staff and other doctors re-energized. Use your anger, frustration, or other emotion to positively focus on your mission.
  • Follow-up. Schedule a meeting to ensure all the action steps are being done.
  • Support. We all need it.  This is where a coach can help you stay on track. Hire one, or five. Use your staff, doctors, your dentist, spouse, priest, and painter, if need be, to help you stay on track.

Something else we learned:

7. Gratitude. Running a business should be rewarding, if not also challenging. Don’t take it too seriously. Be grateful for the opportunity. You live in a free country. This is the land of opportunity.  Have the “Gratitude Attitude”, and welcome challenges as an opportunity to learn.

File: Marketing Management, Practice Management & Development

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