No matter how hard you look, you’ll probably never find an autopilot button to set your chiropractic business on cruise control.
Cruise control – implemented haphazardly or carelessly – rarely works in business. Steering your way to success requires a hands-on approach, a smart management style and a system that allows you to monitor the progression of your enterprise.
Taken together, the journey to success becomes smooth sailing. Your destination is always within sight. The difference between the chiropractor running a thriving business and the one who is barely able to keep the ship afloat is focus, precision and action.
What are you looking at and what are you doing in response to what you see? If your answer is nothing and you set your expectations on others just doing their jobs, then you’re in for one stormy ride with a disastrous destination awaiting you on the horizon.
Developing the Analytic Edge
Building a successful practice requires developing systems to measure and reward productivity and to eliminate and penalize inefficiencies and waste. Chiropractors also must implement processes to enable practice managers to analyze various conditions of the business.
The Titanic of 1912 sank because the luxury ship’s captain was unable to analyze the threat adequately, make course adjustments in time and respond with appropriate processes – such as having sufficient lifeboats and life jackets – to save the lives of more than 1,500 passengers.
Establishing a system at your practice equips you to respond to financial or staffing shifts in your business and enable you to manage sometimes sharp market fluctuations.
The Nuts and Bolts
Businesses – and people – generally move along the boom and bust cycle of productivity and profits. Your objective is move your practice to the boom side and reverse movement in the wrong direction.
You must identify where you are in the cycle, the direction you’re moving and what specific and detailed strategies to implement to either sustain healthy growth or get you back on track.
First stage: Your business is going strong. Profits are up, traffic is high, and your office is buzzing. Your goal, obviously, is to maintain that state. You have to realize that one false move, one lowering of your defenses or one decision to rest upon your laurels and you could see that bubble pop. Recall Apollo Creed in the early Rocky movies?
What to do? When you’re on the upswing, don’t take vacations, don’t make investments, don’t go out on the limb. It’s time to economize. Pay your bills. All of them. Invest in practice facilities. In a phrase, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Your business machine is running on all eight cylinders.
Second stage: Your business is growing – slightly. Nothing to write home about. Maybe a few dollars more each week. One new patient maybe every week or month. You’re not happy, but you’re not pulling your hair out either. But you also know that inflation and marketplace uncertainties just may blow a hole in your happy ship at any time.
What to do? Don’t change anything. Let the ship keep sailing. You’re going in the right direction. But take a close look at how it’s sailing. We introduce the focus and analytical side of the equation. What is being done right in your business? What processes are the most profitable? Who are your top performers?
Focus on these parts of your practice. Put the emphasis on the high producers. Throw the wood in the furnace that’s cranking. For the under performers and loose ends in your practice, do some tweaking. What’s wrong and how can you fix it?
Third stage: Your business is stable – in the ugly sense of the word. At least it appears that way. You’re getting no new patients. Revenue is steady, maybe. If you monitored your practice’s progress on a graph, it looks like a straight line to the right, with occasional drops. You’re not sure if something’s just not right or something’s going wrong. Although it may look OK on the ledgers, your practice is teetering. And you discover this condition after careful examination.
What to do? This is time to roll up your sleeves, to take your practice to the next level, to put your business into high gear (you may use whatever metaphor that suits your vision). Begin promoting your business, just like you did when you first opened. It’s time again to start spreading the word. Turn up the fire in your marketing department.
Dig into your operations and find out what’s working and what’s gone wrong; and fix it. Cut costs, reduce expenses and prepare to deliver on your overhaul plans, which may involve hiring new people to cover understaffed areas. Last of all, crack the whip. Cruising along Easy Street is going to take you to some unhappy places.
Fourth stage: Something has gone wrong at your practice. You’re answering the telephone as your front desk receptionist is off chatting with a buddy in one of the treatment rooms. If you continue on this course, you’re going to hit that iceberg. And you’re going down. This is red alert.
What to do? Someone is obviously not doing his job. Identify where that is happening and who is responsible. Identify and label the red herring and immediately institute a new course of action to avoid taking this dead end again. Develop an explicit policy that identifies and rectifies the production flaw. It’s time to repair this breach before your practice takes on even more water.
Fifth and final stage: This is the lowest point right before posting the “Out of Business” sign on the door or hiring a bankruptcy attorney. This is when everything’s going wrong. The line on your revenue document would make great fodder for downhill skiers. Even your patients are having doubts about your survival. You’ve even briefly entertained the thought of changing your practice’s name to “Doldrums Chiropractic.” Remarkably, this stage feels like you’re starting from scratch. And you are.
What to do? The fix for this condition may appear the shortest, but it requires some major rethinking and serious introspection.
First, communication. How are you going to do it? Obviously, to have reached this stage meant you weren’t communicating. The strong, silent types can’t expect their staff or the public to read their minds.
Second, which is similar to the first, broadcast you. Let everyone know what you’re doing, what you expect and what you’re offering.
Third, find out what is needed and wanted in your marketplace. Don’t expect to sell daisies and daffodils to cement contractors. Understand your patients. Who are they? What do they want? The same goes for your employees. This stage resembles the startup stage. You must lay the groundwork before you can build your practice.
Taking a Close Look
Scrutinize how your practice functions by measuring staff and department productivity will reap powerful results.
The Chiropractic Business Academy has helped thousands of chiropractors build thriving, staff-driven, patient-centered practices. Our aim is to put you on the right track to success!