February 12, 2016

Is Your Chiropractic Office Scheduling Appointments Like This?

By Dr. Dan Golden In Chiropractic Success, Practice Management

– MAKING THE APPOINTMENT-

Graduation has come and gone.  Doctor of Chiropractic degree is in hand.  National and state boards have been passed.  Practice entry loan secured, equipment in place, sign hung and doors open.  The greatest Chiropractor in the world has come to town….let the healing begin.  Coroner…..close your doors.

Don’t think that analysis is too far off from what most new doctors subconsciously believe.  The clinic door is open and the world is about to beat a path to their door.  In the vast majority off cases it simply doesn’t happen that way.  Doesn’t take long for the new practitioner to realize practicing Chiropractic is a business.  All businesses need customers, clients and/or patients.  Gotta get the folks in the door.

There is a science to securing patients, making that all important appointment.  For the most part it will be done in one of two ways.  There is the face to face personal contact and the telephone.  Each is done differently requiring application of effective techniques. 

PERSONAL CONTACT:  This happens when the doctor is outside the office.  May be at the grocery store, church, service club meeting, social function.  People finding out you are a doctor….especially you are a Chiropractic doctor provides material to initiate a conversation.  Could be this individual as well as others in the immediate area are searching for a Chiropractor.  There is a way to turn this casual contact into a life long Chiropractic patient. 

Always have an ample supply of business cards on hand….either in your wallet, purse or even the beautiful little shiny brass business card holder received as a graduation present.

Not uncommon for conversations to go from general to specific.  An example may be: “Well doctor I really don’t want to impose but I’ve been told it’s possible for Chiropractors to help people suffering from Asthma…is that true?”  Your answer, of course is a very dignified, professional “well yes there are cases wherein Chiropractic adjustments can help those suffering asthma.”

  You can then let the subject drop or make this inquiry an opportunity to increase your patient family by continuing the conversation… “why do you ask?”  This opens the door. “I’ve had asthma for years, tried everything and nothing offers more than temporary relief.”   Again, your dignified response “Sounds like you have a very serious problem….you owe it to yourself and family to see if Chiropractic may be of assistance” (of course you know full well it will be).  With that  take out one of your business cards, turn it over and begin writing.  As you are writing you say “Mary, I see my new patients at 11:00 in the morning and 1:00 in the afternoon.  I’m going to make you a tentative appointment for Tuesday at 11:00…okay?  Now if my schedule won’t permit I’ll have my assistant, Joyce, give you a call to reschedule otherwise I’ll see you Tuesday morning.  I” m also putting down my personal cell phone number for you to call if you ever feel the need to do so.  Now I’m going to write put your appointment on this card to give to Joyce.”  Train you staff to do the same thing with their personalized business cards.

MAKING AN APPOINTMENT OVER THE TELEPHONE:  Yes, there is a science to making appointments over the telephone.  A system of making appointments for both new and established patients.  A trained front desk assistant can usually determine whether the caller is a new patient…but not always.  The objective is to make the appropriate appointment without offending the caller.  Example:   Ringy, dingy, dingy…. “Dr. Golden’s office, this is Joyce.”  Caller…. “yes Joyce, my name is Mary Jones.  I’d like to make an appointment.”  Is Ms Jones a new or established patient?  There is a simple way of determining status without offending.  Joyce says “great, Mary, when was the last time you were in?”  If it’s a new patient the answer will be quick and simple… “oh, I’ve never been in.”  If she is an established patient the answer will be “well….you know Joyce I don’t the exact date.  Think it was a couple of weeks ago.”  Joyce then follows office procedure for established patient appointments. 

Patients should always be given a choice of a yes or a yes, not a yes or a no.  The yes or no would for a new patient would be “We can see you at 11:00 AM Thursday.”  That may not be convenient and the patient will respond “wow that won’t work….do you have something else?”  Answer….. “sorry, no we don’t….not for another week or so.”  Yes or yes answer might me “well Mary Dr. Golden sees his new cases at 11:00 in the morning and 2:00 in the afternoon.  He can see you at 2:00 today or 11:00 tomorrow….which do you prefer.”   Control the appointment book, however; do everything possible to get the patient in….even if it means during lunch, before or after hours.

The established patient is a little easier to accommodate as they are familiar with office policy.  “Well Mary I have an opening at 3:15 this afternoon or 8:30 tomorrow morning….which do you prefer?”  Patient may say, “is there any way I can get in at a different time?”  Immediately ask “possibly, Mary, is this an emergency?”  Remember the patients definition of an emergency may be totally different than what the office considers an emergency.  Emergencies take precedent over all other appointments. 

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