Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Back to Basics

By By Dr. Barbara Sturm DC   

Features Education Profession

Work smarter, not harder
Working smarter is the way of the savvy entrepreneur. Leveraging every
hour and habit to increase profits is the thrust of the best
businesses. That may “rub some the wrong way” because of the notion
that making money as a chiropractor in some way lessens chiropractic.
Nothing could be further from the truth! The words optimum and
abundance can apply to our income as well as our healing potential.


As a coach, my job includes helping my clients leverage their talents and current habits so that they can work smarter, not harder! To make a lasting impact on others, chiropractors need to start with our own lives first, and be models for every essence of our chiropractic philosophy. Success is a part of our philosophy and this success can include a lucrative business. “Working smarter” moves my clients towards optimum living at much faster rates and with greater ease. It’s far more productive to uncover a chiropractor’s strengths and customize systems and procedures to those strengths versus trying to mould the DC to the system. The second approach – moulding  a chiropractor to a system – does not honour “innate” whatsoever.

Working smarter means looking at a simple system, such as consistently asking for referrals, and leveraging every part of it to increase yield. In order for a system to be successful, it must have the following four components: 1. It must be measureable; 2. It must be innovative; 3. It must be reproducible and 4. It must eliminate discretion.

The fourth point means that successful systems are not subjected to your emotions; that is, whether you feel like doing them or not. You must consistently do them because they’re the system, and because you’re a solid business owner. In the systems I coach, there are more than 20 ways to work smarter, not harder, when it comes to referrals. 

My experience has taught me that there are four basic reasons patients don’t refer:
1. They don’t know the way; 
2. They don’t know the how; 
3. They have no desire; 
4. They haven’t been asked!

Here’s a coaching hint for you, so that you side-step “overwhelm” and move right to fully implementing an idea, and have it produce profits for you again and again.  From the list below choose one idea or step.  Then, integrate that one into your business consistently for the week. Don’t focus on any other ideas – just habitually do that one thing for a solid week.

 At the beginning of the next week, if you’ve successfully implemented that one idea the week before, then add just one more idea. But don’t lose the first one you implemented! Many doctors become overwhelmed because they try to add too much too fast. This is part of the role of a coach. Your coach should help you create a customized plan to habitually implement systems that will keep you progressing forward at your desired pace. 

Trust me on this one – focus on just one new step each week and at the end of the year you’ll be 52 habits forward versus being everywhere and nowhere at the same time. 

This is a small sampling of how to work smarter, not harder, when it comes to referrals. 

  1. Ask for one referral every day – just one!  Here is the simplest referral request.  (You can get fancier once you’ve mastered this step.) “Mary, I’m curious, who is the first person who comes to mind that you wish were here with you today?” Ask it just like that and ask it just once per day. Take action, then stand back and watch the results.
  2. Strive to make your educational systems about teaching your patients to refer.  This means that you rehearse with your patients how to share chiropractic with those they know. Here’s how to do it:  “Mary, I’m curious, how is it that your chiropractic adjustments make your headaches go away?” After you ask this, be quiet!! Help them fill in the blanks but don’t answer for them.  When they’re confident going through this process with you, they’ll be confident sharing with those they know.
  3. Share a referral gift packet with your patients so they have something meaningful to give to their loved one.  If you want to know what is in a referral gift packet, please just e-mail me and ask for the template and I’ll happily share it with you.
  4. Track your results. Keep a referral log so that you know whom you asked, the name of their referral, what you gave them (i.e., referral gift packet) and your followup.
  5. Thank your patients for taking action. After they have given you the name of a loved one, and you’ve given them a referral gift packet, thank them either via e-mail, phone call, or handwritten note.
  6. Make it easy for your patients to think of reasons to refer. Share an article with your patients about a given condition that chiropractic can help. Underline the most important parts of the article and include your contact information on the article.
  7. Make it easy for your patients to think of reasons to refer by sharing a testimonial.
  8. Make it easy for your patients to refer by e-mailing them their testimonial and asking them to share it with those in their e-mail address book whom they care about. Write the e-mail for them that they will send to their friends.  Make it super easy for them.
  9. 9. Make it easy for them by having themes every month to trigger, in their minds, one person they know of whom they would like to help lead a healthier, happier life.  For example, for August – Back to School Month – refer your favourite kid;  for September – Teacher Appreciation Month – refer your favourite teacher. You get the idea.
  10. Make it easy for your patients to refer by giving them options to refer that make them feel most comfortable. 
  11. Share a referral gift packet. Invite their loved one to come with you on your next appointment to meet you and to see how you do things in your office. Invite their loved one to attend your very next Strategies for Healthy Living workshop.
  12. Make it easy for your patients to refer by asking them questions about your relationship with them and ask that they refer on the basis of their answers.  Here’s what I mean. “Mary, I’m curious, what do you enjoy most about our relationship and your care?” Find out what is working well in your office and do more of it.
  13. Remind your patients of your recycling policy during your new-patient tour.

In summary, your success is based on how effectively you fully leverage your talents, resources, and time. The right coach will help you blend those together so that you have a customized plan to follow for steady, incremental growth. And just like health and well-being, it’s an inside job that requires time and commitment. 
Keep living to be your biggest fan and remember that we’re in this game called life and we’re in it to win it! •

Print this page


Stories continue below