Read any good books lately? I’m reading a good one right now called Uncommon Service by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss.
The book’s main point is that when it comes to customer service, you cannot be great at everything. In fact, to be the best in one category, you need to be the worst at another. A few examples they offer translate well to the chiropractic industry.
One case study was Commerce Bank. They were the first bank to open on weekends. Why did no one else think of that? But the problem is it costs millions to open all those branches all weekend long. So, how did they do it? They purposely offer the worst return rates on CDs and savings accounts. They make a point to literally have the worst rates in every town. That difference allows them to offer the customer service on the weekend that the customers asked for.
Another great example is Walmart. Think of your average Walmart. Is it the nicest store you ever shopped in? Do they have outstanding employees with great service? Definitely not. What do they have? The lowest prices. They save by having scuffed floors, crummy lighting, not-super-informed employees — but they have the best prices.
Hopefully these examples make you ask yourself about your own practice. What do your customers want you to be best at? On the flip side of that, what can you afford to be worst at? Let’s think about it. If your customers want fast office visits, a quick in-and-out, can you be the greatest soft tissue, ART, Graston technique doc in the country? Probably not.
Or, if you want the best waiting room, a real Ritz-Carlton of a chiropractic clinic, five-star service to boot — can you then have the lowest cash fee in town and take Medicaid? Doubtful. What most of us do is we are mediocre at all these things. Not a five-star waiting room, but not a one-star either. Not the greatest technique chiropractor ever, but pretty good. Not the greatest equipment in the universe, but not the worst. What do we end up with: a mediocre practice, and a mediocre business.
Let’s figure out what your customers and you want to be best at, and then what we can be worst at. If you want to have the best office environment with a Starbucks machine in the waiting room (which we have — definitely worth the investment), a beautiful office and friendly staff, can you also afford to give away free adjustments and charge $12 per visit and take HMO and Medicare? Again, doubtful.
So maybe you offer the greatest customer service and are the most expensive in town. That will work. Or maybe you’re the opposite and take all insurance, charge a low cash fee, and your waiting room may be a bit run-down and your staff mediocre, but you are affordable. That works also. Maybe you’re certified in every technique and the best technical chiropractor on the East Coast, which is great. But then you can’t also be the most convenient, taking walk-ins, last-minute emergencies. Maybe patients have to wait two weeks to get in, and you can only see 15 a day.
These are the decisions you must make based on your type of practice, what your patients want, and what you think the market wants. But to be the best at one thing, you may have to be the worst at another. Being mediocre at all things is a sure way to have a mediocre practice, a mediocre life, and never reach the success you deserve.
James R. Fedich, DC, owns a large multidisciplinary practice in Northern New Jersey. He is also the author of Secrets of A Million Dollar Practice and host of the popular chiropractic podcast, Dr. J’s Path to Success. To find out more or to contact Dr. J, visit drjamesfedich.com.