Canadian Naturopaths are well-schooled to carry out the technical aspects of their practices. It’s taking care of business that seems the higher hurdle. With competition elbowing in and patients demanding ever more value for less money, it’s tough to stay on top and keep a practice growing. Taking care of business and being a good Naturopath can put you on a relentless treadmill that takes the fun out of working. You might wonder why you didn’t take a business degree after your ND degree.
If you feel this way, you’re not alone! I’ve conducted in-depth studies of 5,000 healthcare professionals’ practices over the past twenty-four years. And although people and situations vary greatly, there is one common theme: Naturopaths (like other healthcare professionals) have put a lot of time and money into getting trained to deliver their service, but relatively little into other important aspects of their practices. Perhaps like many of your colleagues, you feel much more comfortable being the healthcare professional than being the business professional.
Running a practice means wearing a dizzying number of hats. You must be boss, human resources department, salesman, financial wizard, and marketing expert all on top of being a good Naturopath! The key to a successful practice is getting trained to manage all of these jobs so that they become as rewarding as the clinical work. Making all aspects of your practice work for you will bring you many rewards, including the financial reward of more net income.
Consider this … What kind of a boss are you? Are you a good leader and an effective executive? Do you think you are too nice or too tough in managing your practice? Do you find yourself doing things you know you should have delegated? Do you hold staff meetings that generate increased productivity?
What about your personnel management skills? Are you hiring the right staff for the job? (Studies show it costs an average of $11,000 of your net income when you hire and train the wrong person.) Do your front desk staff greet patients warmly and courteously? Do they know how to handle the “shoppers” who call to ask about your services. (Studies also show that every time someone calls in but doesn’t become a new patient, you lose an average of $1,000.)
Treatment Plan Acceptance?
How good are you at sales? Do you have trouble getting patients to accept the treatment they should be having for the best results? Do you find yourself giving discounts or deals that you wish you hadn’t?
How often do you get referrals from your patients? Have you built yourself a series of referral sources (i.e. chiropractors, MD’s, other health related industries such as health food stores, etc.) and do you maintain this network? How many new patients are you greeting each week? Is there room for more? How about a patient newsletter and a marketing plan designed to cultivate goodwill and feed your practice?
What about the financial side of the practice? Do bills run up out of control? Is your accounts receivable balance higher than it should be? How high is your overhead in relation to your income?
Impact on the Bottom Line
Any of these questions can have as much impact on your bottom line as the treatment you provide to your patients. Here is a real life example that illustrates the growth that takes place:
A healthcare professional approached us in the fall of 1996 with concerns about the practice, working all hours of the day and evening, getting personally tired and run down, staff driving him crazy, and of course, not enough net at the end of the day to justify all the hours of work and effort.
We met and analyzed the situation and found areas that could be fine tuned and a plan was put in place that would result in an increase in productivity and income.
The positive side of the practice, when we started working together, was that there was excellent external marketing already in place and the healthcare professional was a good presenter and gets good treatment plan acceptance.
In the first phase of working with this practice, it was necessary to replace a few of the staff in order to get the right team players, and then organizing the staffing so that the job loads were in balance. This improved his productivity dramatically. A recall system was also put in place as part of improved internal marketing.
Next, we trained him on managing by statistics which teaches you how to track your statistics and what ones to track. You learn when to panic, and when not to. This is a time saver and a stress reducer every time.
The result of working with this practice was a happier healthcare professional and a major increase in billings and net income of about $10,000 per month.
Making your practice work for you is all about taking control of the above points, step-by-step. Make a plan and work it out.
KEEP IT FUN!
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