Chiropractic In The New Millennium
“The Recommended Action Plan”
Let’s talk about the recommended action plan.
Now the recommended action plan is the replacement for the traditional report of findings. You’ll hear me use the terms interchangeably, but the approach is obviously very different.
The report of findings generally is thought of as the educational experience for the patient where you’re telling them about the findings. You’re explaining to them how it relates to their nervous system, how it relates to subluxation, how it relates to healing and chiropractic care. While this is all well and good, this is not the type of information that really gets them to say yes to the care that they most significantly need.
The “Recommended Action Plan”, on the other hand, continues the theme of Fertile Ground.
Now, most chiropractors still think that the report of findings or recommended action plan is where all the “closing” happens, when the patient is closed and the money is extracted and the program recommendation is accepted—this thinking is FALSE.
I’m here to tell you that, with a shocking few exceptions, your patient has decided 100% as to whether or not they’re going to start care with you BEFORE they come in for the recommended action plan, before day two actually occurs. Your patient has already decided.
If you successfully got them to think to themselves…
“I really hope that what he found will help him be able to treat me, and I really hope that he’ll be willing to accept my case”
…then, they’ve made their decision that they’re going to start treatment with you.
The Recommended Action Plan is your opportunity to take advantage of that fertile ground you’ve just created with the recommendations in the past seven chapters—answering the phone, answering the phone properly, scheduling a consultation, professionally preparing your office and office staff, providing beverages and snacks, becoming a celebrity in your office. The Recommended Action Plan allows you to plant your seed and see it turn into something that grows. If all of the above strategies are implemented no sort of manhandling or closing really needs to happen.
The patient’s decision as to whether or not to give you their money and accept your recommendations and treatment has already made if you have cultivated fertile ground properly by this point of treatment.
Just like at the consultation when the patient is brought into the recommended action plan room, you should not be in it. Your staff should leave the room, go find you, and bring you into that room and present you to the patient.
By the way, that room should be absolutely spectacular.
It should be clean. It should have outstanding art on the walls. It should have your degrees and things like that. It should really be a room of top notch excellence.
You’re going to sit down with the patient and, again, you’re going to reinforce and remind them that the purpose of this visit is to review with them your findings from the consultation and examination…
“Mrs. Jones, the purpose of today’s visit is to review my findings of your case from yesterday, and that information is designed to determine if you qualify for treatment here, and, ultimately, for me to make the decision as to whether or not I’m willing to accept your case.”
You want to reiterate and reposition the patient and reinforce what you’ve been telling them all along.
This is what it’s all been about.
Everything from the first moment they saw your ad to the first phone call to the first visit—all of it has been leading up to this point, the crescendo of, “Will you accept their case?” and “Do they qualify for treatment?”
Once you start off with that, then review the examination findings with your patient.
You’re not going to go into incredibly in-depth descriptions of capsules and facets and synovial fluid and disc movement and things of this nature, but you do want to make sure that they’re clear that you know what you’re talking about.
If you have a testimonial video, if you have any sort of graphics or things of this nature that you can employ to help illustrate the patient’s predicament, this is a great opportunity to employ them.
Notice I didn’t say video, graphics or other things to prove chiropractic works or to educate the patient… NOT necessary.
Having a big flat screen TV hooked up to your computer where you can show them the type of injury they have, the type of problem that reveals why they’ve struggled to recover so much, certainly goes a long way in building credibility and rapport.
The biggest thing you need to ask during this time, once you’ve reinforced with them the purpose of the visit, is something to the effect of…
“Mrs. Jones, I have made some determinations about your case. The first question I have for you is, how important to you is it that this problem gets solved?”
This may sound like a strange question to ask a patient, but realize that if you ask that question and the patient says, “Well, it’s really not that big a deal”, you just found out that you did not create fertile ground.
Either that or the patient really just doesn’t belong in your office.
What you’re hoping to hear, because obviously then it’s going to mean that they’re going to be able to receive the care that they want AND NEED, they’re not in denial, you’re both on the same page, is…
“Oh, I have to get this taken care of. It’s of the utmost importance. I don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t get this problem taken care of.”
Those are the patients with whom you want to work.
Somebody whom you actually have to convince that they have a problem is going to be nothing but a non-stop headache. At least, if they do tell you at this point that it’s not that big of a deal, or it’s not terribly important to them, you have a couple of choices.
You can determine if:
a) You made a mistake in the fertile ground process and they’re trying to minimize it so they can get out of the office and have a reason not to follow your recommendations; or,
b) They may in fact be your classic tire kicker who really just wanted a free visit with a doctor, and if that’s the case you can save yourself any further waste of your time and you can end the visit.
I will tell you that most people are not wasting their time on two doctor visits just because they wanted a free visit.
There are a few out there, but the vast majority of them, if you get any answer to the question of how important is it to you that this problem gets solved that is anything other than, “Oh, it is of the utmost importance, I have to get this problem solved”, then you know that you missed something that first day.
You know for a fact you missed something in that first day. You know they did not walk out of the office saying “I really hope that what he finds he is able to help me with and he is willing to accept my case.”
So now you must go back and go through much of what you talked about on day 1 again and reposition that patient and then demonstrate to them how important or how critical their problem really is.
Do not make up anything here.
If there is no critical problem then, obviously, you’re just not going to take the case. But we’re making the assumption that if it’s gone this far and this deep into the process, there is a problem and any problem the patient presents with, if it’s not treated, as a general rule, is going to get worse. In my mind, it’s important enough to demonstrate to the patient the consequences of not solving this problem and your concern about that has to be sincere and believable.
Here is where all your positioning the day before comes in…making it clear that you would be using a high level of discernment to determine if they qualify for treatment. This is where you get to cash in on that because, at this point, if you haven’t made it clear that you were going to determine IF they qualify for treatment, and you now try and show them the consequences of not getting treated, you just look like you’re trying to pitch them. Now you look like you’re trying to sell them something.
This is where the whole process of making it very clear, from day 1, that you’re trying to determine IF they qualify for treatment and IF you’re willing to accept their case, pays off because, when you get to this point in your report of findings/recommended action plan, and you say…
“Mrs. Jones, how important is it to you? How critical is it to you that this problem get solved for you?”
…some patients are going to say, “It’s of the utmost importance” and this person is done. You can just go ahead and move onto the financial aspect of the program, make your recommendations and what not, and they’re ready to go. So that’s not really a problem. You don’t need any special strategy or anything for that.
What you do need special strategy for are for those people who say, “Well, I don’t know, I need to think about it.” Or “it’s not that important.”
This type of person you typically lose if you don’t strategize properly, if you don’t position them properly.
So you have this person sitting in front of you, they’re kind of wishy washy, now you can go back and say…
“You know, at this point I can say to you honestly that you do qualify for treatment and my concern here is that if this problem doesn’t get solved now, it’s going to be a much bigger problem later, one which I may not be able to solve for you.” In addition, you can say, “While you do qualify for treatment, I’m not certain we can accept your case, because, although your problem is serious, you don’t seem to think so, and I just don’t have enough room in my patient schedule to accept someone’s case who isn’t all that interested.”
Again, I’m gong to emphasize EVERYTHING you say has to be accurate.
We’re only having this type of conversation here as a means of example, based on the assumption that the person sitting in front of you does qualify for treatment, and is in need of chiropractic care, does have a clinical profile that would both allow them and necessitate them to receive chiropractic care in your office.
At that point is where you’re going to start to demonstrate the consequences of not solving this problem.
This will help the patient to see deeper into the future and weigh those consequences against the credibility you’ve built up and the discernment you assured them you’d be using. They’ll think…
“Well, he could have not taken my case. He could have told me that I didn’t qualify, and now he’s telling me that I do. Wow, this problem might actually be more serious than I thought.”
This is where you’re going to convert these people and be able to help them get the treatment and care that they actually really do need, long before it becomes unbearable, and, in some cases, an unsolvable problem.
If you don’t demonstrate to them from the get-go that you make the determination IF they qualify for care, IF their case is going to be accepted, then when they say to you “It’s not that big a deal”, anything you say that pushes them towards starting treatment or anything you say that tries to convince them that their problem is serious, just sounds like you’re a blow hard trying to sell them on something they don’t really want.
That’s why this positioning early on is so critical and that’s how fertile ground figures into the recommended action plan.
By creating fertile ground from the moment they respond to your ad, you create a new patient that will do one of two things:
1) They’ll just lay down for you. They’ll do exactly what you recommend because you’re believable and they trust you; or,
2) You give yourself leverage with someone who is not quite on board with you and you give yourself the opportunity to get them on board with you even that late in the process. Without that positioning, all is lost.
I want to reiterate, anyone who tells you that this much attention to detail is unnecessary, just isn’t paying attention.
Remember: The ONLY goal is to get the patient what the patient needs most. If you think the patient needs chiropractic care then you need to do EVERYTHING in your power to ensure they get it.