One of the ideas I’ve explored in these recent postings is my belief that it can take most patients many tries of starting care and stopping care before they “get” the lifestyle benefits of chiropractic. Having spent their entire lives steeped in the medical model of symptom treating, most patients aren’t about to embrace chiropractic after one spellbinding report of findings and incremental relief that comes over weeks or months. Then, because patients see how deeply you care, many feel guilt or shame when they discontinue care. This, combined with the fact that most chiropractors are unwilling to keep in touch with patients during the dormant phase before their eventual relapse, creates a voracious appetite for new patients.
I think I know why.
Consider the two greatest influences in the career of a chiropractor: their chiropractic college and the practice management coaches they hire. While most colleges benefit from the meager recruitment overtures of their graduates, most chiropractic colleges enjoy little loyalty from their alumni. Proof? Homecoming events are poorly attended, attracting a mere 2%-3% of practicing alumni. Even more telling is the noticeable lack of endowments from the estates of appreciative graduates that force chiropractic colleges into a hand-to-mouth dependency upon tuition payments.
Practice management groups have an even worse track record of demonstrating the value of cultivating and nurturing long-term relationships. While I’m sure there are exceptions, few chiropractors, after begrudgingly fulfilling their contractual arrangements, ever return as a coaching client. Instead, after a breather, begin the search for still another so-called “coach” to make them do what they already know they should do. One management group is notorious for forcing every non-renewing client to have what is euphemistically called an “exit interview” with “The Hammer,” an especially confrontive individual whose intent is to keep the fleeing client in the fold with a pathetic “you-can’t-make-it-on-you-own” tirade and other equally despicable and manipulative fear tactics.
No wonder most chiropractors are oblivious to the concept of the lifetime value of a patient. No wonder most chiropractors would rather seek out new patients than keep in touch with inactives. There aren’t in role models!
The result? Chiropractors whose only contact with their chiropractic college are requests for money, producing a cynical disdain for their Alma matter. Chiropractors who either withhold their support of their state association, or bail when their new patient stats take a dip. Chiropractors who go from one management organization to the next and would NEVER return to a former coach to be a client again. With so little expressions of loyalty in their own lives it’s no wonder most chiropractors are unable to create or expect loyalty from patients. Thus, for many, chiropractic practice is about only one thing: new patients.
Now I understand why most chiropractors don’t view inactive patients as patients. Now I understand why most chiropractors merely “trade” patients with other chiropractors in their community. Now I understand why most chiropractors think of other chiropractors as competitors. Now I understand why most chiropractors experience high staff turnover. Now I understand why most chiropractors invest little or no energy into the hundreds of inactive patients that they assume they’ll never see again. Now I understand why chiropractors feel so isolated.
Success guru Napoleon Hill observed, “Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life.” Bingo!