It’s a common tale. For time, you’re so busy each day is a blur. You’re in the zone. You’re on top of the world, trusting your intuition; you’re practically a wizard. This is SWEET!
And then the numbers fall off. There are empty slots in the appointment book. There are disconcerting lulls between patients. There’s enough time to distract the front desk CA with questions about who’s next. Your confidence erodes. You have time to ruminate on what you should have said and should have done with that patient who didn’t show up for your report.
Welcome to the roller-coaster practice. One moment you’re giddy with confidence as everything you touch practically glows. The next thing you know you’re surfing the Internet, reading the chiropractic rags and wondering if anyone loves you.
What you do about this determines if this is a one-time anomaly or a lifetime sentence until you retire.
First acknowledge you created this.
I know. It’s tempting to blame the economy, the confusion about ObamaCare, the weather, high unemployment, the resetting of first-of-the-year deductibles and all the other convenient scapegoats. As uncomfortable, even incorrect as it may seem, you created this.
True, you don’t control the world. But those you encounter react to you, which in turn shape their perceptions and behaviors. So in a sense, you contribute to a version of reality that manifests in this thing called your practice.
One of the common denominators of under-performing practices is a chiropractor who has made the practice about him or herself. How? Here are some of the more common ways:
Wanting new patients for your reasons. Practices with a lack of new patients are often guilty of wanting new patients for less than honorable reasons. Among them:
1. To be busier
2. Increase their income
3. Reach a statistical goal
4. Win over a convert
5. Seek patient admiration
These are largely selfish reasons which emit an odor that patients and prospective patients are especially skilled at detecting.
Action Step: Remind yourself that your needs will be met only (and after) you help others get what they want. Seek new patients to help them avoid needless surgery or side effect laden drugs. Introduce new patients to chiropractic so they know the truth. Desire new patients so you can offer them hope and greater possibilities.
Monopolizing conversations. Fact is, most chiropractors talk too much. In some practices it amounts to first degree ear-raping. It’s often justified as “patient education,” but it’s rarely a back and forth volley and thus rarely effective at making significant change.
Action Step: Show up curious. Be slow to speak. Be of few words. Like grains of sand, things in abundance are rarely valued. Become a legendary listener.
Not being present. If you have the habit of attempting to eavesdrop in on front desk conversations, going through the motions as you daydream about trout fishing or worse, doing the math to determine your expected services for day, you’re stealing from patients.
Action Step: Surrender your full attention to each patient. Avoid being distracted by those who don’t show, and instead, “Love the one you’re with,” as Steven Stills warbled 40 years ago.
Cheating the first patients of the day. Scripture reminds us of the value of “first fruits” and the “first born.” Do your first couple of patients of the day get the same quality of adjustment as those toward the end? Shortchanging even one patient reduces your moral (and clinical) authority. Patients may not know, but you do.
Action Step: Get to the office at least 20-30 minutes before your first patient of the day. Review the files of those you expect to see. Imagine what’s going on in their lives. Pray that you can serve each one in some extraordinary way—beyond simply adjusting their spine.
Moody and distant. When the numbers are up, you’re up. When the numbers are down, you’re down. Sound familiar? It’s usually a sign that you feel inappropriately responsible for what a patient’s body does (or doesn’t) do with the energy that your adjustments add at opportune times and places along their spine. Investing your life spirit in effects or outcomes is risky. It forces you to bluff or fake your confidence and certainty. Patients (and team members) are rarely fooled.
Action Step: You are not your practice. You are not the economy. You are not their insurance carrier. You are not responsible for their relief. Set clear boundaries for what you are responsible for. (It’s not much.) Refuse to get sucked into thinking their problem is your problem. Instead, become a conduit, an encourager, a hope giver and a masterful adjuster.
Imagining success is what you do instead of who you are. Think twice before you’re tempted to acquire some new gizmo or push some new adjunctive procedure onto patients. The motive behind such acquisitions is often a way of avoiding a far more painful solution. That involves a mirror.
Action Step: True success is almost always a stripping-away process, not an adding-to process. Look for ways of reducing clutter, streamlining procedures and simplifying your practice. Complexity breeds confusion. Success avoids chaos and ambiguity. Simple things last. Less is more.
Lack of gratitude. This goes beyond remembering to say “Please” and “Thank you” as you ask patients to assume new positions on your adjusting table. It’s far deeper. Many chiropractors see themselves as victims and rarely appreciate the significance of the skills they have and the truth that they know.
Action Step: Find (or set one up yourself) a mastermind group of upbeat, optimistic chiropractors and participate. When you stay holed up in your office, battling insurance companies and hypnotized patients seduced by the drug-soaked media, it’s easy to feel alone, becoming an easy target for discouragement and fear. You are not alone! You’re merely an easy target.
Yes, it’s your practice, your name on the license and your name on the bank loan. But making it about you is optional.