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Are You Sitting On A Goldmine?
    If you have been in practice for one or more years, then you may very well be sitting on an untapped goldmine!

    Let me explain.  I love it when I get a chiropractor who signs up for my coaching program and I find out that he's been in practice for several years, and now realizes that his practice isn't doing as well as it once was.

    Now, don't misunderstand me.  I don't love this situation because the doctor is in such a bad situation, but rather because I can fix his problem with so little work on my part (and on his part) that it's not even funny.

    And today, I'm going to share with you the same advice that I would give to such a doctor.  But before I do, let's go over some fundamentals.

Bulk of the Cost

    As I'm sure you've found out on your own, the most expensive part of growing your practice is getting new patients.  But why is that the case?

    Simply put, potential new patients don't know you.  And since they don't know you, they are more reluctant to believe and trust you.

    That's why you end up spending a good deal of time and money in converting a potential patient into an active patient.

    But have you noticed that when you get a new patient from a referral, he is much more likely to trust you and to accept your recommendations?  This is because while the new patient doesn't have a relationship with you, he does have a relationship with the person who referred him to you.  So through the referrer, a little bit of trust automatically trickles down to you.

    But despite what you may have heard, the best patients (and the easiest to get) are not referral patients.

    You see, while you automatically acquire a certain degree of trust with referral patients, there are potential patients out there with whom you have an even stronger relationship, and whom would much more likely become active patients.

Inactive Patients

    Yeah, yeah.  I'm sure you've been told this before, but the easiest (and best) patients to acquire are those who have come to you before.

    The problem though is that most doctors go about the process of turning inactive patients into active patients completely wrong:

    A portion of doctors do absolutely nothing to reactivate old patients, other than sit there and wait for these patients to come back on their own.  Another group of doctors simply send a newsletter or another correspondence to inactive patients once in a while for a few months to a year.  And finally, a small minority of doctors actually go about the process of reactivating patients the "right" way.

How to Reactivate Inactive Patients

    The first thing you must do to effectively reactivate inactive patients is to have their information in your computer.  If right now you are keeping records strictly on paper, then go out and get yourself a computer and either a billing or scheduling program, or a database that lets you keep track of your patients.

    Once you have your patient (current and past) information in the computer, you will want to establish a system for communicating with these patients on a pre-assigned basis.

    What this basically means is that in addition to mailing a monthly or quarterly newsletter, or a periodic mailing (which are all good ideas), you will want to have a pre-designed group of letters.  These letters will be sent out at periodic intervals to inactive patients (all you would have to do is change the name and address for each patient and print the letters out as you need them, or just do a mail-merge with your database).

    As an example, you will want to send a letter to your inactive patients at these intervals:

1 Month
3 Months
6 Months
12 Months
18 Months
2 Years
3 Years
4 Years
5 Years

    Keep in mind that these letters are in addition to the regular mailings that you are currently sending to all your patients (such as newsletters).

    Also, as you can see, you will not only be contacting inactive patients for the first year (as most doctors do) but rather for many years to come.

    While the longer it has been since a patient has come to you, the smaller the chance that he will ever come back, you still have a better chance of reactivating a patient that hasn't come to you for years than you do a prospective patient that hasn't come to you before.  This is true even if the inactive patient only came to you for one or two visits.  Such is the power of a preexisting relationship, no matter how long ago it was created and abandoned, or how infrequent the number of times that a patient has come to you.

    The simplest way that I've found to do a systematic mailing like this is for one day out of each month, you (or a staff member) would go through your patient list and determine the date since a patient last came to see you, and mail them the next letter in the sequence of letters that you have already created.  Some computer programs will allow you to sort by date since a patient last came to you, or by which patients are in a specific group based on the mailing sequence. Depending on how computer savvy you are, and the power of your computer program, you may be able to find a way to make these systematic mailings even easier for yourself.

What to Say in the Letters

    Another common mistake that doctors make when they're mailing to patients is that the material they send out is too impersonal.

    In fact, the thing that really makes your letters successful is how personal they are.  You want the letters to feel that they are coming from a friend.  To that end, here are some recommendations:

  • Mail only first class (no bulk mail)
  • Hand write the address, or computer print it directly on the envelope (no labels)
  • Talk in interests of what's in it for the inactive patient if he comes back to you
  • Make the letter appear as if it is being sent exclusively to that patient, and not to everyone under the sun
  • Talk to your inactive patients as to friends that you haven't seen in a while, and talk to them on a one-to-one basis
  • Use both emotion and logic to convince your inactive patients to come back
  • Make your inactive patients a special offer (free adjustment, lower price, etc.)
  • Give a deadline for your special offer (builds urgency)

    Also, in addition to sending out letters based on the system that I've talked about, it is also an excellent idea to send birthday and holiday cards, as well as letters on other special occasions.

    Now, I know that this might sound like a lot of work, but after you develop the system, it is very easy to follow.  And the success that you can achieve with this strategy can truly be amazing.

    In fact, if right now you have several hundred to several thousands inactive patients in your database, this one strategy can get you all the active patients that you can ever want, so use this strategy well and don't take it for granted.
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