I was on a call with my coach. It was March of 2009 and I was 14 months into owning a business. I felt 100% like the business owned me. Somehow the plan had seemed good: borrow $110,000 with my parents as co-signers to go along with my $135,000 in student loans. Move to a city where I knew two people. Build out a high-end, expensive suite in an off-main street medical plaza with no visibility.
It was all going to be easy though. I was going to be flooded with new patients because I was going to be the only Active Release Techniques (ART)
certified provider in the metro. “Hang the shingle and stand back from the door so you don’t get bowled over.”
Expectations don’t always become reality. Another ART chiropractor opened up a month before I did. The pent-up demand had been greatly overestimated and was split in two. The Great Recession was in full effect. I worked my tail off on marketing and saw some decent collections come in. I also saw all that money head right back out the door to the monthly $15,000 in overhead and debt payments. “This shiny object only has to bring in one new patient a month to cover its payment,
” was a load of crap. The nails in my coffin seemed to be a series of five winter storms that came on Wednesdays. They decimated my schedule and turned my “great American dream” into a nightmare.
My coach refused to help with my pleading request.
“Every problem you
’re experiencing can be solved by new patients.”
He repeated it multiple times as we talked. “You have to meet new people. Do screenings every day. Give out your card at the grocery store and ask who their chiropractor is. Join clubs. Join a church. You HAVE to meet new people. You HAVE to get new patients!”
I was mad at him when I hung up the phone. My available funds were under $3,000. I was scared. Failure wasn’t an option though. Fear of having to pay back those loans on Burger King wages forced me to set my ego aside and take his advice.
During the first three years I did whatever it took to survive, but I sure wasn’t happy about it. I stood at the front of gyms and Sleep Number stores asking people if they wanted their spines checked. For multiple summers, I had a weekly hot, sweaty four hour-long farmers market screening booth where people scoffed at us as they searched for the free wine samples.
On my coach’s mandate, I even went door to door introducing myself in the neighborhood... not just hanging flyers, I actually knocked. I could sense people thinking that I must have barely made it through school. In truth I had been near the top of the class, but it sure didn’t matter back then. My business brought me more embarrassment than joy. The directions that I followed brought in just enough money to keep the doors consistently open.
I did image-building fundraisers and tried to get involved in the community through rotary club, Young Professionals, running and triathlon clubs, and a BNI Chapter.
I threw money at the dartboard of paid advertising as well, but
couldn’t consistently hit bulls-eyes. Google AdWords,
Facebook, radio, newspaper inserts, and an expert advice
column all helped a little.
Nothing gave me lasting momentum until...
“Turkey?!? YOU WOULD NEVER BRING TURKEY TO THE NATIONAL PORK
I nearly screwed up the turning point of my business. My patient had recommended bringing the Ultimate Porker sandwich for all of her National Pork Board coworkers at the upcoming lunch and learn. I suggested that it might be better to let them RSVP by choosing from a variety of sandwiches, because "what if someone wants turkey?" She nearly stormed out of my office! I apologized profusely. She calmed down and got us set up for a successful lunch & learn. Wellness Program Expert and the 20CallsPerWeek Marketing system was born!
Over the last eight years, my team has made thousands of calls. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on food and health fair door prizes. But what matters most is that I’ve seen so many patients be helped by our care and hundreds of thousands of dollars flow into my practice as a result. This predictable, enjoyable, and replicable marketing system turned my practice into a success and set me free! I’m so excited for it to do the same for you!
Ten years later my coach was definitely right:
problem you’re experiencing can be solved by new patients.”
I just wish he would have shared this better
way to meet them!