When Small Is BIG
By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA
Here is one of the most important secrets you will ever learn about business success. Are you ready? Prepare yourself, because it can literally change your practice. OK, here goes: Little things make all the difference. Now you might be saying to yourself, That's it? Yep, that's it! The smallest actions and gestures often have enormous impact on your life. Going that extra mile speaks volumes about your business, talent, personality and intentions. After all, if you can't master the small details, how can patients count on you to deliver what really matters: quality health care?
In today's economy, bigger isn't always better. In fact, it's often the small things customers notice that can put your business on the fast track to success. Seemingly insignificant acts are powerful catalysts of change and growth for your practice. Unfortunately, we often make the mistake of not having a system in place to implement and monitor daily action steps for success. We think it has to be big to make a difference. Business and life rarely follow such a grand scheme. Integrate these 10 action steps into your daily practice routine and watch what happens.
A genuine smile is the universal language of acceptance. Train yourself and your staff to smile, not only in the office but also in the outside world. Most people are not prepared for a genuine smile. When they get one, you can actually see the wall of resistance and apprehension start to crumble. It is one of the simplest yet most profound free actions you can make. When a patient enters your office, they should receive ray-of-sunshine smiles from the front desk.
Remember that a person's name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language to them. Make it a point to remember people's names. It shows you value them as a person and makes them feel important. Use their name early and often in conversation. This is a skill that takes effort to develop, but it will be worth the investment of time and energy to master.
Praise the slightest improvement in a patient's condition, an employee's behaviors or work ethic, and everything in between. It keeps people motivated and shows you care. Be "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise" [a quote attributed to American steel magnate Charles Schwab]. Every person thrives on value and appreciation. People are so used to seeing the negative that they overlook the positive. Can you remember the last time someone praised you for a job well done? How did it make you feel? Everyone loves a compliment.
Stop overloading a patient with facts, figures, examples, definitions and terminology. Appeal to the basics of human nature: good storytelling. Good stories appeal to human emotion and stick in our minds. We make decisions based on how we feel. Next time you are tempted to persuade a new patient into care with X-rays and fancy posters, simply try telling them the story of a patient just like them that you helped get well. It will make much more of an impact.
Send a handwritten thank-you note to each patient, thanking them for choosing you as their doctor. In this fast-paced world of e-mails, texting and instant messaging, the personalization of taking the time to create a handwritten note will be remembered. I guarantee every patient will tell a friend or loved one about your note. Trust me, you will make an impression!
Make a Phone Call
Make personal calls to each new patient welcoming them to your office. Check up on them after their first treatment. Call after any exacerbations, changes in protocol or symptoms, and life-changing events. Your value as a doctor and human being in their eyes will skyrocket as a result.
Check Your Attitude
Attitude drives actions. Actions drive results. Results drive lifestyles. If you don't like your lifestyle, look at your results. If you don't like your results, look at your actions. If you don't like your actions, look at your attitude. If you don't like your attitude, look at your philosophy. If you have no philosophy and you have a lousy attitude, what kind of actions are you going to take? People will sense your attitude without a single word being spoken. Make it a good one.
One of the most successful small actions I did in my practice was to offer Hershey's Kisses. It's amazing to see the smiles that come over people's faces when you offer them one. There must be some magic "feel good" power in a Hershey's Kiss, because the room seems to fill up with positive energy. I've never met a person who did not feel better after eating chocolate. It's OK if they don't accept; remember the old adage: "It's the thought that counts."
Value Your Staff
Staff make or break your office, so keep them happy. Keep them satisfied. Keep them motivated. They are the first line of interaction with your business, and the entire vibe of your office will be determined by their attitude. Thank them every day for a job well done. Show them value and appreciation with pay incentives, unexpected personal time off and little motivational surprises. It's amazing what coffee and donuts can do for morale.
Laughter is the best medicine. Making people smile or laugh puts them at ease and creates an atmosphere more conducive to productivity. If you can make a person laugh, they are more likely to agree with purchasing your service. People are always looking to smile or laugh. Developing humor takes time. Like all other skills, it must be learned. Friendly and funny are a thousand times more engaging than professional.
Sometimes, the small, spontaneous acts make all the difference. You can gain more control over your practice by paying closer attention to the little things. Embrace the power of small in your business by focusing on the tiniest details of the work you love. Every point of contact with a patient is an opportunity to excel. Do the unexpected and you will find a new door opening to a practice ready to be transformed into the extraordinary.
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