The first few years of running your practice are exciting and you're busy getting the hang of things. In order to keep your chiropractic business going for the long-haul, you need to avoid and overcoming the most common pitfalls.
Nearly 50% of businesses fail to make it to the end of their fifth year. A recent article by StartupNation, "8 Signs Your Startup Will Fail Within the First 5 Years (and How to Avoid it)", spells out frequent reasons businesses fail. You need to know them to keep your practice afloat.
8 Reasons New Practices Fail
Below are eight of the most common reasons that new businesses fail in their early years. These signs are not difficult to spot. If you know how to overcome these obstacles, then your practice will thrive for years to come.
1. High churn rate and hiring the wrong employees
You always want to hire the best employees possible. As a chiropractor, the odds are that you only have one employee. This makes it all the more important to hire and retain your employee(s).
The process of looking for candidates, hiring, and training a new employee is a huge investment of time. If your employees leave after only one or two years, you lose that time investment. Then, you are forced to repeat the entire process.
Why do employees quit? The most common reason that employees leave a job is that they don't feel engaged. You can engage your employees and help them feel invested in your business with weekly meetings. Keep them informed on the performance of the business and their own individual success. They will feel more like a member of the team.
2. Bad location
Most chiropractors are located in a brick-and-mortar location. Although foot traffic isn't so important when you're primarily providing service during scheduled appointments, you still need to have a good location.
You need to be sure that you are an easily accessible location for your primary demographic. (If you haven't given much thought to your demographic, jump to #4 in this list.)
There are too many factors to list in this post on what makes a location bad or good. It is worth quickly mentioning a few location-based issues that we repeatedly encounter as providers of online marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) services for chiropractors:
- Sharing an office space (exact address; same street and suite number) with one or more chiropractors that already rank in search results
- Purchased an existing practice that was already established, but you need/want to change the name or phone number
- Local competition in close proximity that seems to dominate search results
What We Do:
We help chiropractors improve their visibility online with proven techniques and expert know-how. If you're having trouble with your website or falling short in search rankings, ask us for help.
3. Your web hosting company sucks
Practically every business relies on their website. This is no different for chiropractors.
"If your web hosting company has a lot of downtime or your CMS doesn't update and you lose content, then you risk failure. People are impatient, and they won't wait around for a slow website to load or come back online. They'll simply go to your competitor instead."
Be sure that you do your research when choosing website provider. We highly recommend that you get your chiropractic website from ChiroHosting, but we're biased.
When looking for an affordable chiropractic website provider, be sure to do your homework. Read online reviews of the company, look for examples of their work, and evaluate multiple vendors before choosing (especially if you are going to be locked into a long-term contract or pay a setup fee).
Be especially careful if you choose to go the DIY chiropractic website route. There are tons of great platforms out there for building your own website. If you haven't built a website before, you may be shocked by how difficult it is to produce a professional looking site and maintain it.
4. You don't have a buyer persona
You have to know your ideal patient. A marketing tool that helps flesh out your ideal patient is a "buyer persona". Your buyer persona is a semi-fictitious representation of your ideal patient based on market research and real data about your existing patients.
Building your buyer persona allows your to tailor your marketing mix. This mix includes everything from your location, your services, your pricing/accepted payment methods/insurances, and how you attract new patients.
You should also determine your competition's buyer personas, so that you can better position your practice.
If you don't have buyer persona yet, try using this buyer persona builder from HubSpot to get started.
5. High overhead costs
When your overhead expenses like rent, payroll, and utilities are too high, it makes it difficult to make a profit. You don't need an M.B.A. to understand that when you spend more money than you earn, it's hard to stay in business.
Always look for ways to reduce your overhead expenses. Try negotiating for a lower rent or finding a new location. Reduce your electricity bill by installing LED lights or upgrading your thermostat.
Don't forget about recurring expenses that are not directly tied to your physical space. You might be able to save money every month by switching to a better and more affordable chiropractic website for your office.
6. Business is booming, but cash is tight
As you grow, your expenses will grow too. You'll surely be treating more patients, but you may find yourself waiting on payments from insurance companies. Bounced checks and pending insurance payments can cause issues in your cash flow.
It's no surprise that an increasing number of chiropractors operate cash-only practices. The cash practice model may greatly help your cash on hand. Keep in mind that the cash practice model will exclude patients relying on insurance covering payments. Always consider your buyer persona before changing your accepted payment methods.
Last, if you sell physical products in your office like rehab equipment or vitamins/supplements, carefully manage your inventory so that you don't order too much. If you have products that have been sitting on the shelf too long, trying selling them at a discount to recoup some cash.
7. No one wants your products or services
It's possible that there is a lack of demand for your services. It's also possible that your market is already saturated with other chiropractors. Let's say that you're the most talented chiropractor in the city, but nobody knows it, why would any patients make an appointment with you.
We're starting to sound like a broken record now... always refer back to your buyer persona! Based on your work putting together your ideal patient, you'll be able to identify if there are enough potential patients in your geographic territory to support your business. If there aren't, you might need to move or drastically scale back your overhead.
What We Do:
We help chiropractors build their online reviews. Run a free scan to see what your current online reviews look like.
8. Leadership is lacking
As a chiropractor, your job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, offer opinions, and provide direction. To provide quality care to your patients you also need to have a concern for others. Be sure to apply your ability to lead and concern for others not only to your patients, but also your staff.
In your business, the most important leader is you! Be sure to provide a clear structure and organization to the roles within your office. Thoroughly and gently train your team, but allow them to have freedom to implement their own style. Lastly, always be sure that every employee feels valued for their contributions.
Keep Your Practice In Business Through Determination
It's not easy to run your own practice. All new business owners will encounter some sort of difficulty (likely one of the items listed above). Being able to persevere in the face of adversity can make all the difference in the success of your practice.
Take this list of common failure points with you. With a bit of foresight and lots of hard work, your practice will make it past year five and many more.
Let Us Help You Make It to Year 5 and Beyond
Everyday, we help chiropractors improve their websites and online marketing. Our goal is to attract your ideal patients. If you have questions about how you can improve your marketing, contact us!
Schedule a free 1-on-1 to speak with one of our chiropractic marketing experts. Or, if you just have a quick question, use our contact form. We look forward to helping you help more patients!