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Dynamic Chiropractic – February 12, 2010, Vol. 28, Issue 04

Know Your Competition

By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

I know what you might be thinking: Why should you be concerned with what other health care professionals are doing? Is it really necessary to "spy" on them? Why can't we just all get along? Unfortunately, in the real world your business will probably not thrive if you don't take a closer look at your direct competitors.

This "spying" is very important and is done by virtually every successful business.

Why? People only have so much money to spend, only so much time in a day and only so much attention they can give to the thousands of advertisements that bombard them every single day. If your potential patients feel that another health care professional offers a better solution to the same problem you do, then you stand a chance of losing them. So, I'd say this is one of the most important business strategies you can use to stay progressive in the marketplace.

Who Are Your Potential Direct Competitors?

  • Medical doctors
  • Orthopedic surgeons
  • Physical therapists
  • Other chiropractors
  • Massage therapists
  • Doctors of osteopathy
  • Pain management centers
  • Anyone else who offers to service the same ailments you do

There is one competitor that deserves a category all their own. I like to call them the "do nothing" competitor, and it's actually your patients themselves. Your potential patients could just not do or buy anything; take no action whatsoever and live with their problems. That's a tough competitor to beat because it costs them nothing and it's really easy to do. Plus, it's already proven that they are really good at doing it. It's the classic line, "I was just hoping it would go away on its own!'"It is human nature to procrastinate in the pain department, so you had better learn techniques to overcome it.

How Can You Learn From Them?

Now that you know who your competitors are, what should you do about it? I know this might be a little uncomfortable for some doctors, and it's not a subject many people talk about, but you know what? They should. Not learning this information will be giving away your advantage. Here are a few simple recommendations on what to do next.

Make an information folder for each of your competitors. Write down what you know about each of them, both good and bad. Here are some suggestions on what to include. Some of the items you may already have knowledge of; others you will need to investigate a little.

  • Hours of operation
  • Types of advertising they do
  • Marketing promotions they have done
  • Pricing
  • Insurance plans they accept
  • Types of patients they see
  • Practice philosophy
  • Personality
  • Staff support
  • Years in practice
  • Best/worst attributes
  • Reputation in the community

Check the Yellow Pages and newspaper ads to see how your competitors market to the public. If their ads have been running for a long period of time, then that strategy is probably working well for them. This is valuable information to know.
Here are some other easy ways to gather information on your competition:

  • The Internet is a great place to discover tons of information. Look at your competitors' Web site offers and content. Are they on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Do they have blogs and newsletters? If so, they are reaching a large market of potential patients?

  • One of the best and easiest ways is to invite a competitor out to lunch. Yes, I am serious. Feel free to share information with them. You might just actually turn a competitor into a business ally and a friend.

  • If some of your patients were clients at another facility, simply ask them about their experience. What did they like? What made them decide to leave? You will be surprised at how often it can be the smallest thing that causes a patient to leave. One of the most common and least known reasons is feeling undervalued and underappreciated.

  • In regards to the do-nothing competitor, read and research material on human communication. Learn to understand why people do what they do. What drives the emotional component of not taking action and avoiding risk? Once you learn to overcome this barrier of resistance, you can begin to help more people with your services. I have always taught that the secret to success is being able to get along with and communicate with other people.

By keeping a close eye on your competition, you will be able to know what they are doing and what does or doesn't work for them. You will also learn how to compare your services to theirs. You will be able to stay one step ahead of them, learning from their successes and avoiding their failures. Think of it as a more efficient way to grow your business and educate more people about the positive benefits of chiropractic. Seems like a win-win to me.

Click here for more information about Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA.

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