by Frank Sardella
In starting a practice, there are numerous expenses for you to consider. From adjusting tables to staffing, start-up costs can soar well beyond estimation, dwindling budget capital faster than you can sensibly predict. Such budgeting requires keen foresight of practice-building essentials.
But what about a RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENT?
With so much emphasis getting placed on practice "basics", a factor of foremost importance is commonly omitted from calculation: a viable volume of patients. It is this omission that is the first error of chiropractic marketing. A new practice therefore begins just as it appears in the architect's rendering - beautiful spaces with empty tables.
As one can not "buy" patients, there tends to be no budget allocation accounting for them. Patients are procured through the use of promotion which is, incidentally, the most neglected expense despite its primary importance.
Whereas lack of promotion is the source of rapid practice failure, elevating its priority is therefore a requirement for practice growth and prosperity. And, here, we come to the point of the story:
PRACTICE MARKETING AND PROMOTION ARE MATTERS OF TOP PRIORITY AND, ON THIS FACT ALONE, A PRACTICE IS MADE OR BROKEN.
Consider carefully that, although necessary to treatment delivery, none of the other items in your budget plan will mean anything if no one ever connects with them. Therefore, there are a few factors you need to know that influence the outcome of what you do now, and whether those actions will make you or break you in the future.
Does Your Budget Deflate Your Motivation?
With a depleted budget suppressing promotion of a newly-built practice, your feelings of satisfaction and enthusiasm begin to deflate as you realize that no patients are on-hand for you to help - the whole point of your venture in practice.
This planning failure is a breakdown in understanding of the basic facts of promotion. Practice-building merely starts with the build-out. It continues from there to include a measurable quantity of patients receiving care, a factor which requires accurate estimation and use of promotion. For until patients arrive, a new office is merely an empty space occupied by a doctor and staff with empty pockets.
A Key Chiropractic Marketing Confusion
One of the key difficulties in this zone is found to be a confusion that new practice starters have on the subjects of marketing and promotion.
The look and feel of the space, types and quality of patient treatment, various services, staff, etc., all are considered "marketing", on a par with what marketing professionals call "branding". Whatever the jargon, this is marketing in its purest form; taking a product to "market". Once so placed, it must be promoted.
Promotion is how you draw attention to a marketed product to elicit response with an ultimate intent to effect actual sales. Promotion is of paramount importance as its neglect in budgets roadblocks your efforts in creating a booming, on-purpose practice.
Rule of Thumb in Practice Promotion
Promotion is the answer to any of your financial difficulties. This is so much the case that funds allocated for your rent or electric bill could be used instead for promotion, as the resultant new patient influx will pay borrowed funds back with profit. Pay your rent or electric bill and it buys you a month. Invest in effective promotion and it can pay your rent and electric bills for months to come.
Here is a good rule of thumb to note down:
EXPENSES DRAIN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT. INVESTMENTS FUEL IT. CHIROPRACTIC MARKETING IS AN INVESTMENT.
Here is the difference between an expense and an investment. Your rent is an expense. Supplies are an expense. Promotion is an investment. Never forget this.
When Money Is Tight, What Do You Do?
When income is low, business is "slow" or budgets become "tight", promotion is the sole solution. It is the only expenditure that has anything to do with income. New customers equal new business, which equals income and ability to pay your bills. No other expenditure on your list does this.
So, your entire budget got spent on marketing with little or none left for promotion. So what? Does this make you a failure? Should you pack it in and go home? No. Not yet anyway.
Marketing With Little or No Budget
It is not difficult to find cost effective ways to promote. There are so many channels such as screenings, talks and all kinds efforts that can be made at little or no cost.
There are many more chiropractic marketing ideas than you probably realize and, with cleverness and ingenuity, you can greatly influence your practice growth planning on very little investment.
What Can You Do About It?
Certainly you would never omit something as basic and neccessary as a telephone from a practice budget. Cut of adjusting tables from such a budget because they "cost too much" would be a laughable absurdity. Only sheer stupidity would account for excluding something so vital. Why, then, would anyone not estimate and allocate funds for patient procurement?
For those starting a practice that have not calculated a budget, especially if borrowing to so start, allocate plenty of finance for promotion and resist spending it on anything but promotional actions.
If you are in practice, feeling financial walls closing in, go for the lowest cost or free things, and put your promotional costs above your rent in priority. Paying the rent will keep the doors open for a month. Promoting will keep them open for life!
I hope this helps.
Best of luck in practice.
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