In my time on this Earth, I have experienced and survived 13 recessions. The one we're in currently is perhaps the longest and the deepest of all of them. I've observed the most amazing phenomenon whenever we go through hard times; more often than not, chiropractors do well.Why? Because people have so much added stress in their lives that they desperately need the care of a chiropractor. Nonetheless, some DCs are still struggling, and I have some tips that may help.
Sometimes, the perspectives of those outside health care can help us understand how to weather the storm within our own profession. Recently, my wife was reading a local business publication that featured comments from a panel of three executives, each of whom shared what they have learned from the present recession:
- Executive #1: "I have learned that good entrepreneurs can make money during any recession. We need to be proactive, watch costs, and look for new opportunities." During this downturn, we have been looking more closely at costs in our own operation to better leverage economies of scale and available resources, and you should be doing the same. In the areas where we've found waste, we quickly adjust (no pun intended) to maintain a more efficient cost structure. We've continued to grow the business by exploiting new opportunities in markets we hadn't focused on prior to the recession.
- Executive #2: "To be creative instead of fearful and to be thankful that our loyal customers have gotten us through these tough times." I am grateful every day for the expert corps of doctors that comprise our network, and we have tried to find creative ways to reward their loyalty to us through stronger benefits and more value. They recognize that being part of a team pays huge dividends, and I recognize that their commitment is what keeps us going. When times are tough, don't forget to remind your staff of how valuable they are and motivate them to continue to make your team work efficiently.
- Executive #3: "To stay true to who you are and your business model: quality never goes out of style." I think this same analogy can be applied to patient care. I've always believed that a patient who visits my clinic should have an experience, not simply a visit. For example, a patient spent a lot of time chatting with my chiropractic assistant after her treatment recently. When I asked the CA about the long conversation, she told me that this woman was quite lonely and that her visits to our office represented her only social interaction for the week. We must remember we care for people, and quality care means that we should be helping them feel better both physically and emotionally. Having a CA spend a little extra time talking with a patient is fine by me if the patient leaves satisfied from the experience.
If your practice has suffered during this recession, there is ample opportunity to change the tide, regardless of economic conditions. Remember, you are here to serve your patients, so dust off that servant's attitude and pay attention to these simple lessons. And don't forget, this too shall pass.
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