Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Keys to Your Practice: April 2013

Angelo Santin   

Features Business Management

How many of you find yourself hitting a plateau in practice? Are you finding your growth unsustainable?

How many of you find yourself hitting a plateau in practice? Are you finding your growth unsustainable? Do your numbers rise, just to fall back down to where they were before? Could there be something fundamental holding you back that you are not aware of – something that if mastered could lead to exponential, and sustainable, growth? In this edition of Keys to your Practice, I want to explore how to grow your practice and serve more patients by letting go of many things that may be draining your energy.

Many of us work in a solo practice with one doctor and one or two chiropractic assistants (CAs). We are used to being in a leadership role and in control of our clinic. This need for control can be your downfall and the source of your lack of growth. We are so used to being in charge of everything that it ends up consuming a great deal of our time and energy.


Therefore, we must be open to giving up some control in clinic to the person we trust the most – our CA!

Don’t start celebrating yet. It is not the dream of your CA to suddenly take on more than they already have, especially if they don’t know why they need to. Herein lies the art of being a great leader – which is inspiring others to act. 

I recommend everyone read a really great book by Kouzes and Posner called The Leadership Challenge. Step by step, the authors outline how to inspire those around you to act. The first step is to “model the way.” Before you can ask anyone else to take on more, you must first lead the way by working hard and being committed to every facet of your clinic. Once you have consistently set an example, then it is time to move on to step 2, which is to “inspire a shared vision.” It is very important that your staff understand and hear your vision (the big picture) in order to get behind your cause. It is therefore essential to sit down and share that information with them before you enrol them to take on more. This seems very simple; however, it requires some practice – so work on it a bit before you have your sit-down with your CA.

When you are ready to address this head-on with your CA, it is important that you recognize where you are taking on too much in your clinic. If you are a good self-evaluator, do this part alone. If not, a colleague could be of some help. Make a list of all of your daily responsibilities, everything from adjusting patients to answering e-mails, to emptying the trash can.

Once you have done this, go away and come back to the list at a different point in time and take a good look at it.

Organize the list from one to 100 in order of importance. For example, if adjusting patients is your most important item, then rank that number 1. Once you have your list, circle your top 5. This is where your focus should be! If your attention is dragged to the things from five to 100 on your list, it is very likely that you will not have the focus or energy to do your top five things well.

In the office of a colleague of mine, I saw a piece of paper with three simple words that stuck in my head forever. These words were “do, delegate or dump.” (I love it!) Look at your list and pick out some of the things that you can dump and get rid of altogether. Now, and only now, are you ready to sit down with your CA to share some of the things on your list that you need help with. Again, if you have painted the big picture on why you need the help, they will be more energized and inspired to help take on the extra tasks. 

Kouzes and Posner’s last step is to encourage the heart. This means that once your staff have taken more on, it is extremely important to support them, acknowledge them and reward them when they are doing well.

You have heard the old adage that less is more. This golden rule also applies to sustained practice growth. Most people get this backwards. They believe growing is adding more activity, gaining new skills, and getting more new patients. In fact, growth is not about adding activity – growth is a shedding process. Be willing to give up some control, focus on the big things, and in time be ready to serve more people.

Remember, when it comes to your practice work from the inside out.

Keys to Sustained Growth
Give up the need to control every function of your clinic. Instead, model the way to increased productivity and inspire those around you to take part in your clinic’s success.

Action steps:

  • Make your list and circle the top 5
  • Dump the things that you don’t need to be doing
  • Share the big picture with your CA
  • Enrol them to take on some of the things on your list

Dr. Angelo Santin is a 2006 graduate of the CMCC. He operates a busy subluxation-based family practice in Thunder Bay, Ont., and is currently serving his second year as president of the Thunder Bay Chiropractic Society. Dr. Santin is one of a small number of international Carter Universal proficiency-rated chiropractic coaches, and draws on his success, along with the experience of the most renowned experts in this field, to provide time-tested, effective and patient-centred ideas for every chiropractor. He can be reached at or 807-344-4606.

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