Expand Your Capacity, Expand Your Practice

Expand Your Capacity,
Expand Your Practice

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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Thanks to Today's Chiropractic for permission to reproduce this article!

By Pat Gayman, D.C.

Expand your capacity for service, for commitment to chiropractic, for establishing clear priorities, for leadership, and for living, and you will expand your practice. The ability to do this starts with your vision for your future and your desire to make a difference in the lives of your patients, in your community, and in the world. B.J. Palmer, D.C., Ph.C. talked about the “Big Idea.” He envisioned that if one person fell, and ultimately went to a chiropractor, that it was possible to make a difference in the world that started with that one man being fully alive physically, mentally, and emotionally as a result of being adjusted.

Ask yourself, “What is my Big Idea?” How can you serve more people and ultimately make a significant contribution toward making this world a better place? What you envision provides the foundation for the service component of expanding your capacity. Once you have the vision clearly in mind, it takes a plan to bring it into reality. This is where a lot of practitioners fail. They simply open their office doors and wait for people to show up to be adjusted. The successful doctors have a plan; actually, they have several plans.

First is a business plan. Yes, you are in business, and your practice will thrive if you treat it as such. A business plan will help you establish a reasonable prediction of expenses and projections of income. It will also help you realize the demographics of your community and that will help you establish a reasonable marketing plan. There is a lot of help available to assist you in writing a business plan. Look to the Small Business Administration for guidelines. You may find services in your community that are set up to help small businesses succeed. Call your chamber of commerce or your local college to find more resources. Whether you are just starting in practice, or whether you have been in practice for a while and are ready to grow, it is a good idea to have a working business plan.

Next is a marketing plan. Before you begin marketing your practice be sure that you not only have the capacity to manage the new patients you intend to attract, but also that you can handle the increase as they become regular patients. Analyze your schedule and ask yourself these questions. How many hours a week do you dedicate to patient care? How much time do you spend per patient? How long does it take you to process a new patient during the first visit? How long does it take for your report of findings on the second visit? Do you set aside time for regular re-examinations of existing patients? How long does it take you to perform the exam and to report your findings?

The answers to these questions will help you see how you can effectively expand your capacity. Some of the steps you may take include such things as cutting down on the time you spend with each patient, and setting aside specific times during each day for new patients, reports and re-exams. Some doctors get caught up in the rat race of trying to fit people in, only to create a backlog of fairly disgruntled people who have to wait for their appointments. The way to build a stable, growing practice is to always take care of your scheduled patients first. It is wise to post a policy that says “walk-ins” will only be seen after scheduled patients are taken care of. You will have far happier patients when they realize that you honor your commitments, which is really what an appointment is.

Marketing plans should include both in-house (patient appreciation) type activities and community-oriented activities designed to bring in new people. Your existing patients can be your greatest source of new patients if you educate them well and ask them to refer others. This all sounds pretty simple but there are many doctors who concentrate so much on clinical expertise and results, that they fail to remember that their most important job responsibilities are to find and remove subluxations, and to educate their patients.

The concept of removing interference and allowing innate intelligence to do the healing is not yet a well-known concept. It requires that people make a complete paradigm shift from the “outside-in” ideas they have been taught from the allopathic model, and it is your job to teach them. Learning occurs by repetition, so no matter how brilliant you think your report of findings may be, you have to repeat parts of it in small “bites” each time you see a patient. Then, listen well, and be aware of opportunities to ask them to refer others for the same quality care they are receiving. If you are managing the growth in your office and giving excellent service, people will happily refer others to you.

To expand your practice, expand your commitment to chiropractic. Sometimes the business of practice overshadows the reason you chose to become a chiropractor. Your ability to be of service through chiropractic is dependent on the growth and survival of this great profession. Since practice is so often a solo activity it is easy to become isolated from others in the profession who think and practice and love it as you do.

There are many ways to stay involved including publishing your own articles, conducting research, becoming active politically, or joining and participating in one or more of the chiropractic organizations. You may choose to attend seminars, or set up a philosophy group in your community, or offer to share your knowledge and wisdom at one of the chiropractic colleges. When you are involved you have a sense of ownership that will help you stay focused and on purpose about why you have chosen to be a chiropractor.

Expand your capacity, tell the chiropractic story to everyone you meet, be in readiness to serve more and more people, and watch your life become enriched in all the ways you have dreamed.

Patricia Gayman, D.C., was in private practice for 28 years after which she continued her service as Dean of Clinics and Professor of Philosophy at Life West Chiropractic College. She is on the continuing education faculty at three chiropractic colleges. Currently Dr. Gayman owns and operates Capacity Coach, a life skills and business coaching service. She maintains her involvement in chiropractic by managing a chiropractic office, as chair of the ICA Practice Mastery committee and as a contributing writer to several publications. She can be contacted at capacitycoach.com.

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