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Dynamic Chiropractic – June 17, 2008, Vol. 26, Issue 13

Recession Proof Your Practice

By Arlan Fuhr, DC

I have been on the road this spring, and during my visits, the subject of recession clearly has been on the minds of my colleagues. I wanted to share a story about one of the many recessions I have experienced in my 40 years as a clinician and its impact on my practice.

My first true recession experience occurred when I practiced in a small farming town in rural Minnesota.

The year was 1976, and Redwood County was facing its most significant drought since the Great Depression. I felt especially vulnerable as I had just moved into a new house, was managing a new clinic and had committed to a large investment in real estate. Then the drought hit, and along with it, waves of fear reverberated throughout our entire community. To punctuate the severity of the situation, I had a patient who literally walked out into the middle of his farm, looked up into the hot blazing sun and exclaimed that he only had two years of crops stored in reserve. He proceeded to have a heart attack and died on the spot.

That day, I remember thinking I wasn't going to allow the drought to negatively affect my practice. Fear was rampant in the community; fear induces stress and stress causes subluxations. A lot of people were suffering, and I was confident chiropractic could help. So, rather than succumbing to the fear, I set about creating an enticing setting for those experiencing anxiety to allay their stress and find relief.

When I arrived at the office, I immediately set the thermostat at a comfortable 78 degrees and started seeing patients. One patient commented, "Do you know the yard in front of your office is turning brown?" The city had banned watering the grass until the summer was over to preserve resources. However, I remembered we had a water-cooled air conditioner in the clinic. After the water cycled, it went down the drain, creating little benefit for anyone.

I called the city to ask permission to re-route that waste water to the front yard of the clinic. Permission was granted and we quickly began to flood the entire yard. By week's end, we were the only property in the whole community with green grass. We set lawn chairs out front, and the clinic became a gathering spot for patients and anyone else who simply wanted to relax in the cool, green grass.

Guess what happened to our practice? We had one of the most successful summer seasons in more than two decades of operation. You see, practice revenues tend to improve in difficult times and level off in times of prosperity. However, that improvement doesn't happen simply as a result of economic conditions. Creativity, resourcefulness and a positive attitude are the keys to elevating a practice during challenging periods. People naturally are attracted to optimism, which is scarce in a crisis. By remaining positive, creating an attractive environment and identifying creative solutions to problems - in our case, finding a way to make the grass greener - your practice will continue seeing green as well.

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