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Dynamic Chiropractic – January 15, 2010, Vol. 28, Issue 02

"Everything Speaks": Adding New Life to Your Practice

By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

Walt Disney said "Everything speaks." Walt was a master of creating an "experience" that would forever be remembered by his customers. This philosophy is what has made Disneyland and its affiliated parks and attractions among the top tourist and family destinations in the world.

So, I think it more than fitting to follow his professional example in your own business. What you wear, what you say, your body language, your energy, your treatment, the music you play in your office, the overall cleanliness, the colors, the smell, the service, and the experience you deliver all tell a story. What is your story? What area(s) can you improve on to keep bringing it every day?

Chiropractic is not just a job; it's a calling. If you consider chiropractic nothing more than a job you show up for, then you are definitely in the wrong field. But that's not you. As a passionate, motivated doctor who is looking to get to the next level, here are 10 ways to add new life to your practice and do your profession better in the process.

Be enthusiastic. Legendary college basketball coach John Wooden said that if you want to be successful, you must be "hard-working and enthusiastic." This starts from being engaged with your patients at all times, from the moment they walk into the office. Be an attentive listener, keep your energy up during the day, make your patients smile, and be genuinely excited about their smallest accomplishments, particularly in terms of treatment progress. The level of your talent isn't nearly as important as the intensity of your passion. Enthusiasm is the spark for passion!

Work harder. Sorry, there are no shortcuts to success. If you want to be a great chiropractor, it's probably going to be harder than you think. But it will also be more rewarding when you get to the top. Never stop trying to improve. Attend conferences, constantly read and study, take every moment to learn more, and do things way beyond the normal business hours of your practice. Status quo is the killer of business and personal success. If you don't take the initiative to constantly improve, I guarantee your competition will and they will steamroll over you.

Deliver great customer service. Doctors, you need to step it up here. You can be a great chiropractor, but if you are not on point with your customer service, you will be stuck in mediocrity. Realize that you are in the service industry and customers (patients) are the most important assets to success. Show your customers value and appreciation by doing the following: calling people by their names, answering the phone by the 3rd ring, stopping and sincerely thanking your patients, writing them notes, returning phone calls promptly, and giving them enjoyable moments in your office. Think of your office as your very own house. How would you treat a guest in your home?

Embrace criticism. That's right, I said it: Embrace criticism. Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Ask your patients what you can do better to assist them; ask your employees how you can be a better boss. Embrace the feedback and be open and willing to improve based on what you hear. If you ask for advice and never change behaviors, this system will not work. It's amazing how your entire life can change just by asking a better question. If you don't like the answers you are getting, that's too bad. Get over it! More often than not, the intensity of your reaction will help prioritize the areas that need the most work.

Bring the energy. That's what it's all about. Everything you do (or don't do) creates an energy. People come to you or your business for the energy you provide. Think of this energy like a lighthouse. If your light shines bright, many ships will sail toward you. If you are dark, quiet and adrift, no one will ever find you. Some people call this phenomenon the "Law of Attraction." The simple definition of this law is "Like attracts like." You are a living magnet attracting into your life the same energy you put out into the universe. So why not light it up and shine bright?

Create the experience. Strive to make the following statement the mantra for your practice: We are the best part of their day every day. If you do the little things it takes to be successful and really focus on creating a great experience, success will manifest itself. Create an "experience checklist" for the first five visits a patient undergoes in your office. It must be a reproducible system; you and every staff member must know exactly what patients will see, hear and do each visit.

Body language. Are you in the game? Do you lean in when speaking? Do you lean in when listening? Are your eyes always on your patients? Do you write while listening during a consultation, or do you listen first and then write? Trust me, it makes a difference and patients notice. There is nothing more important than your patient when you are with them. Show it by giving them PTC (present-time consciousness), being there in the moment and nowhere else. Look into their eyes and listen to understand, not simply to respond.

Thank your customers. Do you see a recurrent theme here yet? I will say it again. Be sure to thank your patients and let them know you appreciate their business. Your customers are very savvy about how and where they spend their money, and they choose to spend it with you. What are you doing to keep them from going somewhere else? Don't make the mistake of believing they won't go to another doctor. Underappreciate or devalue them and watch how fast they move on.

The "and then some" attitude. Why is it that so many people feel entitled today? Whether it's customers, employers or employees, people often feel entitled to more money, more success, more of this or more of that. But nothing replaces hard work, the extra effort, and the "and then some" attitude that will ultimately lead you to greater professional opportunities. The bottom line is that you must work for it. Just when you think you have given it all you can, give more.

Develop your unique culture. Want to increase the value you provide to your patients and consistently deliver an excellent experience, building loyal customers for a lifetime? Develop a unique culture with extraordinary customer service to enhance your business and keep happy clients coming back for more and more. What is your culture? Here's a hint: Everybody likes to have fun. So make your office friendly, fun, professional, personal, non-intimidating, service-oriented, clean and pristine, energetic and positive, and most importantly, your own.

I can promise you this: If you can do these aforementioned items, you will create more success. Let your patients know that they can always come to you for a consistent experience that delivers a positive energy, a great session, and a home away from home. If you continue to focus on getting 1 percent better every day in all that you do, pretty soon you will have a great business and experience profound results. So get out there and start adding new life to your practice right now!

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