Patients can’t ruin your reputation. Only you can do that.
There’s a popular myth circulating the chiropractic profession that “allowing” patients to miss visits, to drop out of care prematurely or generally overrule your recommendations, will somehow degrade your precious professional reputation.
It’s not true.
When your dentist recommends regular flossing, even supplying the floss, his or her reputation isn’t tarnished by the unused floss a week later. When your car mechanic recommends a tire rotation and alignment, but you overrule him and nine months later have to buy new tires, you don’t blame the mechanic.
Thinking that what patients do is a poor reflection on you is stretching the power and reach you actually have!
An unruly five-year old in the grocery store? Yes, a poor reflection on the parents. But an adult who ignores your recommendation does not diminish you. Thinking that it does, produces not only your own suffering, but significantly reduces the number of referrals and reactivations your practice enjoys.
You have so little power. In fact, your power is limited to if, how and where you’re going to adjust their spine. That’s it. You don’t even get to control the frequency of their visits! Naturally, you have an obligation to make suggestions and recommendations, but ultimately it’s up to the patient to follow them. Or not. Oh sure, you can choose not to accept patients who won’t fully follow your orders, but that reveals more about you, your insecurities and fragile ego than their shortsightedness.
I mention this because when many practitioners notice a downward trend in their patient volume, they often redouble their efforts to insure ironfisted patient compliance. They bulldoze over the patient’s free will and wield their limited social authority by invoking fear or guilt. Justified as being in the patient’s best interests, this is enormously exhausting and rarely produces the intended effect. Instead of appreciative patients, it generates a whiff of desperateness that only serves to worsen the situation and push patients further away.
The key to reversing the erosion in your patient volume isn’t extracting a couple more visits out of each patient. It’s consistent patient education and coming up with new ways to share the chiropractic story with strangers.