Your chiropractic clinic is rolling, it’s busy, it’s making money; you have a satisfied and growing patient base. Your practice may be doing well profit-wise but you might be overlooking an area that could very well be eating a substantial, and sometimes alarming, hole into your monthly or annual profits. This is the area of ongoing purchases.
Ongoing purchases or payments can easily get out of control and once there, it’s hard to rein them in. Once your ongoing expenses are at a new level for a while, it is very easy to start believing that this is now the standard and become comfortable with continuing to make those payments month in and month out.
It’s similar to hiring a new employee. You hire someone with the thought that if they don’t work out you’ll let them go. The reality is, that’s not often what happens. You get to know them. They become a normal part of your practice family and life and it’s hard to let that person go even if you realize they are no longer needed or are not a strong asset.
It’s the same thing with those ongoing purchases. Keep that in mind when you’re committing to things like a subscription for your website, monthly payments for your software, monthly payments for billing and marketing and purchasing new equipment, all those little things that sound cheap on an individual basis quickly add up. If someone says, “This will cost you a hundred bucks a patient, I’ll send you 5 patients a month,” because you know you can make more than a hundred bucks a patient, it makes sense to sign the contract. However, that’s still 500 bucks a month going out. At some point you have to step back and ask yourself, what are the quality of these patients and are they worth the expense, could I negotiate this service for less money, can I do this myself and save the expense.
The same may hold true for expenses such as linens or parking garage fees, both of which are good examples of recurring costs that you may be able negotiate a better price on or find for less with another company. Whatever the expense, unlike one-time charges that go out and are behind you, ongoing costs are tougher to control because once you’ve locked yourself into those then you’re often mentally stuck even if you don’t sign a physical contract.
To help reduce your recurring expenses, try doing the following:
1. Evaluate your needs verses your wants. Our wants are always so much more than our needs, in every aspect of life. A great way to balance the two is by looking at your practice from the patient’s perspective. You need what it takes to make that patient comfortable with being in your clinic and you also need what is required to get them well. That doesn’t require a $10,000 flexion-distraction table, the completely digital $30,000 x-ray unit, a decompression table or $50,000 worth of artwork on the walls.
Remember, it doesn’t take a lot of space to get people well; it doesn’t take a lot of fancy equipment to get people well. It literally takes one room, a table and your hands to get someone well. Sure you need to impress patients somewhat, but you can do so without just going crazy with it.
That is so important…to recognize the difference between what you need and what you want and to really go with the needs first. Try to connect your ‘wants’ with your need for ‘write-offs!’
2. Take the time to do your research and find the best deals. When it comes down to the outgoing flexible purchases, and single payment purchases for that matter, doing research is worth the time. Take the time to do your online research especially because it is so much quicker. We are so fortunate to have that as an option nowadays. If I know I want a piece of equipment, I can spend 10 minutes online and find such a great deal on it.
3. Be wary of the software costs. I mention this specifically because I often find this is out of control when a client asks me to assess their expenses. There are so many great programs out there but they cost hundreds and some of them thousands of dollars a month to get started with and maintain.
You likely need a program that will allow electronic billing (essential in most states now), but you may not need to also add on the electronic records option. You also likely don’t require the hottest new version of EMR software that is out there. Sure it would be nice to have, but it’s just like having that nice Jaguar over your old Chevy – it’s not a necessity.
Just as you manage your chiropractic patients and staff, it is also imperative to manage those recurring costs. The more conscious you become about where your money is going and begin to make more informed choices about your expenditures, the more in control you will be over those costs as opposed to them controlling you. If you have never or haven’t reviewed all your ongoing cash outflow expenditures for a while, maybe now is a great time to sit down and have a look at what you really need verses what you have just come to accept as a ‘normal’ monthly outflow. And, once you have trimmed the fat, take another look at what ongoing expenses you still have to determine if you can modify or negotiate a better price. After all, every buck you save is another dollar of profit.
Dr. Daron Stegall is a chiropractic consultant and co-developer for Patients to Profits – The Complete Chiropractic Success System. He has owned and managed 12 successful chiropractic and multidisciplinary clinics during his 15 year career while taking the time to coach hundreds of fellow chiropractors on how to make business success simple. Much of his advice can be found for free at www.successfulchiro.com. He can be reached at info@PatientsToProfits.com.