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Should I Lower My Price?
| This has got to be one of the most asked questions I get. Usually it's asked by new chiropractors who are looking to get new patients any way they can or by established chiropractors who are feeling the heat from other chiropractors who are trying to price cut them. Either case, my normal response is almost always NO!
Let me explain to you why I am against competing on price, and what alternatives you can use to price cutting, as well as what to do if another chiropractor is trying to play the price wars against you.
To begin, let me give you a scenario: God forbid you needed major heart surgery. Would you go to the doctor that charged $50,000 or the bargain doctor who charged $249.99? Most likely, you would go to the $50,000 doctor. Why? Because you perceive that since you are paying a higher amount, you are getting a higher quality.
Whether in fact you are getting a higher quality or not remains to be seen. None the less, however, you will assume that since you are paying the higher price, you will be getting a higher quality. The same is true of your patients.
If you provide services at a price way below what other chiropractors are charging in the thinking that you will get more patients, you might get bitten from behind when you realize that you will LOSE some of your patients to higher charging chiropractors.
Let me explain. No matter what price you charge, whether it is $10 or $100 per adjustment, there is a group of people who will feel comfortable paying that price. At $10 a visit, you will attract those patients who are more interested in price. The higher the price you charge, the more of your patients will be interested in quality.
I know that those chiropractors who charge low fees right now might have a hard time believing this, but research has proven that price is only a small factor in attracting and retaining customers, especially when it comes to medical services.
A much bigger factor in acquiring and retaining patients is to deliver a high "perceived" value. What is perceived value, and how is it different from normal value?
Normal value is what you are actually delivering when you get to the core. Whether you charge $10 or $100, there will be little difference between your normal value. Either way, you are providing an adjustment, and you spend about the same amount of time delivering the adjustment. So no matter how much you charge, the cost and time for you to deliver this adjustment is about the same.
Perceived value on the other hand, is what the patient perceives he or she is receiving for the fee he or she is paying you. How do you increase this perceived value? There are many ways. Here are just some:
1) Raise your price: If you are charging a higher price than what other chiropractors around you are charging, patients and potential patients will automatically assume that you are higher quality. It's human nature.
2) Know what you are talking about: Nothing builds credibility for you than when your patients feel that you know what you are talking about. Ask patients questions about their health problems, and offer beneficial ways that they can improve. Learn as much about medical conditions within and without the scope of chiropractic, and provide good advice to your patients, and you will have patients that will be with you for a long time to come.
3) Be the expert: You want the patient to feel that you are the best chiropractor that money can get in your community. And the best way to do this is by becoming the expert in chiropractic. There are several ways you can do this. First you can write articles about the benefits of Chiropractic and get them published in your local newspaper or other publications. Second, you can write a booklet about Chiropractic, get it professionally typeset and printed, and distribute it to your patients and prospective patients. Third, you can speak about Chiropractic to groups in your community.
4) Get third party endorsements: It's great when you toot your own horn, but it's 10 times better when someone else toots it for you. Your patients feel that it is more genuine, and the results you get will reflect this observation. Third party endorsements can range from publicity that you receive in your local (or not even local) media to testimonials that you get from current patients. Learn how to use endorsements and testimonials to their full extent, and you will have one powerful weapon (I'm going to devote an entire article to this strategy in the future)
5) Let them know that you are the expert: It isn't enough that you write articles about Chiropractic, or that you produce an informational booklet on chiropractic, or that you give talks to your community, or even that you have received some of the most amazing testimonials and endorsements in the world. What you need to do is let your patients KNOW that you are the expert. You do this by reproducing articles, endorsements, and testimonials, and passing it out to them, as well as hanging them up in your clinic. In your advertisements you include as much testimonials and excerpts from endorsements as possible. When giving talks, screenings, or at any opportunity you get, pass out the booklet you created about chiropractic (as well as to every patient who sees you for a first exam).
So to recap, do not compete on price. Whether you charge a high price or a low price, there will be patients who are willing to pay what you charge. So by lowering your fees, not only do you make a lot less, and have to work much harder to make the same amount of money, but you can actually lose patients. Furthermore, the patients that you attract will tend to be interested only in low prices. Then if another chiropractor comes along and lowers his price, you will end up losing a large percentage of these patients to the new chiropractor.
Instead of lowering your prices, work on increasing your perceived value, and not only will you make more from your patients, but you will actually get more patients!
One final word of warning: If you currently charge normal or higher fees for your services, don't lower them. In fact, the only time you lower your price is when you are trying to get a new patient in for a first time visit.
Now, if you currently are the $10 chiropractor, you have a bigger problem. Your current patients are looking for a bargain, and if you raise your price, you will probably lose many of them. My recommendation to you would be to either increase your price gradually, or plan on an initial loss of a good percentage of your patient base in the process of attracting higher paying patients.
I know that the information covered here deserves more than one article to address, and in the future I may spin off portions of this article into full articles, but in the meantime if you have any questions, or if there is any way I can be of service, feel free to contact me. Also, I'm sure you can think of other ways you can go about building a higher perceived value for your practice and your service, and if there are strategies that you have found to work that I haven't mentioned, I would love for you to contact me and let me know about them.
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