There's hardly a day that I don't pick up a chiropractic publication and that I don't read about someone making $15,000 to $20,000 or more in his first month of practice. In fact, I recently read where one young doctor was upset because he only made $8,000 in his first month.
At first you think the people making such claims are liars. Then, you figure if they are telling the truth they must be spending twice the amount they make on some kind of promotion so that they end up losing more than they make. It stands to reason that anyone making a lot of money in the first four weeks of practice is doing so on gimmicks. Certainly, patients couldn't be coming to you because of a reputation you haven't even earned yet.
But how could I find out just what was happening? If only I could be the proverbial fly on the wall at some new doctor's office. Well -- before I knew it, there I was sitting on an old cookie in the office of Dr. Newton Dupe.
Dupe: Well, Mr. Bigbucks----
BB: Call me "BB."
D: Right. Well, anyway this is the first day of my practice and you said I'd have hundreds of patients. So far I've been open five minutes and the phone hasn't rung once.
BB: Now let's not panic. Take out your check list. Did you send out the mailing offering your wife's services to clean the house of your first ten patients? Did you make the embarrassing phone calls that had you plead with people to come in because your wife and children were dying of leprosy and you needed the money for hospital bills? Did you go door to door promising that everything done in the office would be free for the first ten visits? Did you put nauseous and unethical ads in the local papers carrying coupons for free dinners if they came in for a free exam? Did you leave your card around with phony messages on the back telling them how great you are? Did you put up card tables in shopping centers and outside markets giving phony stress tests in which everyone would just happen to need your services?
D: Yes, I've done all those things. And I've even making speeches at every service club or organization I could find.
BB: How about the office gimmicks? Are you fully supplied with smiling-face stickers, bent pens, and tee shirts with your face and logo on them?
D: I've done more than that BB. I've been offered to teach the first 20 patients how to walk on a bed of hot coals.
BB: Say what?
D: Well, I figured that I should think of something different, so I put an ad in the local paper offering a free fire-walking night. I can't understand it -- nobody showed up. Anyway, I didn't want the bed of coals to go to waste so I went for a walk by myself.
BB: Maybe you just didn't merchandise the idea the way you should. The ad could have said, "Let me put a little fire back in your life."
D: It's a little late now but I'll tell you one thing: I'm tired of the stuff the other chiros are doing. One even offered a $500 reward for the first "chiro pardner" to round up 30 new "wanted" spines for his "chiro corral."
BB: Hmmmm. Not a bad idea. We could use someone like him. What did you say his name was?
D: Then there's the worst of all. There's this guy who doesn't advertise and doesn't give anything away.
BB: Come on.
BB: Well, how does he get anyone in?
D: Oh, someone said he really cared for his patients. You know, took some time to listen to them and then carefully palpated and adjusted properly.
BB: You don't need to worry about those jerks. They'll only see about 30 or 40 patients a day and make, at best, under $200,000 a year.
D: How can people scrape by like that?
BB: What's most important is that they've forsaken their principles of greed and slime needed to make a killing off the suckers who come into a "motivated" office. Remember "motivated" is just another word for greed.
D: Shhhh. Here come my first group of people. Boy am I nervous. I've got to remember to smile as I sign them up to a lifetime of weekly visits. I've got to remember to impress them with the idea that they'll die if they don't come in regularly. Oh yes, and I must remember to get them to put me in their will. By the way -- I can't stand the flies. Would you swat that one sitting on the cookie?
It was time for me to buzz off.