There are several reasons why you might consider hiring an associate chiropractor.
Maybe you have an overwhelming workload of patients. Maybe you want to spend more time with your family. Maybe you feel compelled to mentor a graduate whose shoes you once filled. And on and on.
But you’ve been holding back, possibly for very good reasons. It’s a big decision. Because the last thing you want is to expand your practice prematurely. Hiring an associate chiropractor is an important step in the growth of any practice, one that can turn into a wonderful addition or a terrible disaster.
In this article, we’ll outline why you might consider adding an associate and when it’s time (or not time) to take the leap.
The “Prerequisites” for Hiring an Associate Chiropractor
When it comes to hiring an associate timing is everything, says Dr. Noel Lloyd, founder of Five Star Management. Hiring someone before your practice is ready can cause unwanted disruptions and potentially a significant loss in net income.
Chiropractors often hire associates before they are ready. It’s a problem that can lead to both the practice owner and associate chiropractor not being busy enough. Ultimately, you get a second pair of hands when you still only need one pair of hands.
Dr. Lloyd explains the signs of when it’s time to hire an associate. If you are so busy that you exceed 80 percent capacity, this is an indicator that you might need help.
Maybe you’re contemplating dilemmas like, “I’m turning away new patients, I’m neglecting my family, or I have no time to focus on business operations.” If these are nagging issues, it might be time to hire an associate.
Now, there is another factor at play… efficiency. If you’re at full capacity because you have inefficiencies, then it’s not the time to hire an associate.
What’s a good metric for efficiency?
According to Dr. Lloyd:
Busy means seeing at least 160 patients per week for standard techniques or at least 120 patients for more complicated techniques.
Your business (because that’s what you are, a business) needs to be financially sound. Maybe you’re not charging enough. Maybe you have a poor collection percentage. There are many factors that play into running a profitable practice. If you already have problems, you don’t want to duplicate them by hiring another chiropractor. Your business might not be able to handle it.
Both Parties Must Win
Like any business, when you hire someone there is going to be a training process. However, a chiropractor hiring a new associate is far different from a retailer hiring a new clerk. Hiring a clerk might require a few weeks of training and they’re off to the races.
Hiring an associate chiropractor is a much longer and hands-on process. At least, it should be. It’s the only way you’ll ensure that you and your associate have a good, mutually-beneficial relationship.
The relationship must be a win-win. If one person starts losing, the relationship will crumble. How do you establish a win-win relationship?
First… You have to teach.
Dr. Lloyd estimates that about “80 percent of hiring problems occur because the clinic director doesn’t know how to develop another chiropractor.” They might be wonderful at taking care of patients, but they don’t know how to handle an employee.
Think about the mindset of an up-and-coming chiropractor. Think about their hopes. Their dreams. How do you institute a “win-win” relationship? Most associates aren’t just looking for a paycheck. They have goals. They likely want to have their own practice one day. If that’s the case, they’ll need to learn the value of a new patient. The value of how a business operates.
Part of the win-win philosophy involves teaching your associate how to get new patients. Don’t succumb to the “corporatized chiropractic” paradigm that says, “You don’t have to market, we’ll do all that for you.” Or, “All you have to do is perfect your craft and patients will organically show up.”
That won’t prepare your associate for the real world. A hands-on teaching approach gives your associate the opportunity to learn not just how to treat a patient, but how to work a business.
When you invite someone into your practice, they need to be on the winning side with you. Implement this mindset: “I’m going to train this person to become as successful as I am.” You want them to have fun, be ambitious, and make good money while working for you.
If you don’t have the win-win philosophy, the relationship fails and the associate ends up costing you more than they are helping you.
Do You Have the Energy?
That’s what they deserve, isn’t it? Your energy? Your undivided attention?
“Patients need to know that their chiropractor is 100 percent there,” notes Dr. Canteenwala. “They have to have that consistent energy.”
If you’re lacking this, patients will likely experience inconsistencies. This is a problem. Patients want to feel that they are receiving high quality care every time they walk through your door.
Such congruency also translates over to how you should choose a prospective associate. If you’re recruiting a new graduate, they must adhere to your techniques. Regardless of who is in the office, your practice should have a consistent feel between both you and your associate.
Dr. Canteenwala echoes Dr. Lloyd’s sentiment that the director-associate relationship must be a win-win. So don’t just expand your office hours and throw your associate into the trenches. They need to be educated. They need you standing by their side.
“Keep the grad in your current office hours,” Dr. Canteenwala says. “You’ll be able to mentor the doctor. Allow them to experience and see how things are done. This puts you on the hot seat. For the first year, make sure you are in a mentorship position.”
In essence, coaching your associate is an essential part of the win-win philosophy.
How Digital Marketing Plays into the Scheme
What’s the number-one reason practices fail? Easy. They don’t have enough new patients. So… unless you’re taking a step back, adding a second chiropractor to the mix would typically require adding more new patients.
When it comes to increasing new patient flow when you hire a new associate, ideally, you should enact a balanced marketing plan. For example, avoid these two scenarios:
- Force your associate to generate all their own new patients.
- Provide your associate new patients without any effort on their own.
Dr. Lloyd strikes the balance by allowing his associates to participate in referrals from his website only when the associates are faithful to produce patients from their own external marketing. If the associate does not make the effort to produce their own new patients, they don’t benefit from the website referrals.
The good thing about chiropractic graduates and younger practitioners is they tend to be digitally savvy. For example, they’re likely already spending a good deal of time on social media, so marketing on this channel should come relatively natural to them.
In addition to social media, here are a few marketing activities they can tackle right away:
- Shoot recorded YouTube videos or go live on Facebook.
- Show delighted patients how to review your practice on Google.
- Write a blog post and have them publish it to your website.
Where to Find a Good Associate
Now that you know when it’s time to hire an associate – and what to do after you hire them – let’s rewind.
Where exactly do you find an associate?
It’s not as easy as it may seem. Think about it. You are a business looking to hire a competent and reliable employee. Think back to the “win-win” philosophy. Hiring the right employee means hiring someone who meshes well with your practice. Someone you’ll get along with and someone you can build a win-win relationship with.
Here are a few strategies to pursue when finding an associate:
- First, make sure you have a persuasive ad that catches the attention of new graduates.
- Develop relationships with new graduates by speaking on college campuses.
- Post the opportunity on your website and other digital marketing channels.
- Post on school job boards and seek opportunities with your local/state associations.
Hiring a chiropractic associate shouldn’t be taken lightly. You don’t just want to choose the right chiropractor, you have to make sure everyone is busy enough serving patients.
Get your associate involved in the process. Maybe they can help out with your digital marketing activities. This will help save you time and money, and instill critical business-related skills.
If you’re lacking direction, download our free eBook, “The 5 Factors of Digital Marketing Success,” and get practical action steps for getting and keeping more new patients from the Internet.