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How to work smarter, not harder

Working harder?

I have always believed that working hard is a great principle in life. I’m all about working hard and being as productive as possible. That’s where the key to this comes in. Being as productive as possible doesn’t mean just grinding harder into it and “working harder.” When we talk about working smarter, not harder what that really means is, “What can you do to be more efficient, productive, and profitable in either less time or less effort on your part?”

What you will find is that building efficiency into your practice leads to proficiency. Proficiency in practice leads to productivity, and productivity leads ultimately to profitability (which we all must have to run a successful business). Most people are looking for the keys to the secrets to profitability and productivity. Many doctors think if they just work harder or spend more hours grinding a little more on it, then that will lead to the productivity and the profitability. Truthfully, all of that comes first from efficiency and so you must have efficiency first. That’s the smarter part. The smarter you are, the more efficiency you have. Ultimately efficiency means less work, effort, or time to get to productivity and profitability.

Get a system

Let’s cover a few subjects of the many subjects on working smarter, not harder in your practice. Number one is your system. Do you even have a system? When I talk about system I’m talking about your protocols and procedures in your office for you as a doctor and for your staff members. Without a system you DO have efficiency breakdowns. As soon as you have the efficiency breakdowns you are working harder not smarter. Do you have that system for your consultation, your examinations, and your reports of findings? How about a system for educating your patients, for your care plan for your patients? What about systems at your front desk with your therapy CA, with your other CA? Do they have a protocol and procedures to follow that can make them as efficient as possible?

How’s your efficiency?

Efficiency allows us to accomplish more with less effort and in a shorter amount of time. Again, that’s working smarter. Your daily office visits need a system too. Do you have a system for that, or is everything just shoot-from-the-hip in your office? Are you running around putting out fires all day? “This needs attention, that needs attention, oh this person has a question, this staff member needs help with this, this staff member has a question about this.” First and foremost when you want to work smarter is making sure you have systems in place and the training that goes with that. You should be getting trained. Your staff member should be getting trained, whether that is by you or by other coaches or other people that are consulting and helping you with your practice.

Secondly, is your office set up properly? This includes details such as your patient flow and your flow through the office as the doctor. Early in my career I had two adjusting rooms at opposite ends of the building. I was spending half my day running up and down the hallway in between there. Then I built an office where I was able to work out of one room, so I was able to see hundreds of patients a week. That one change vastly improved my efficiency and I was able to see many, many more patients there with less effort and in less time because I eliminated all the time that was going up and down the hallway each and every day.

Patient Flow Matters

Another thing to think about is your patient flow. Are you sitting around waiting on patients? Do they have to walk up and down the hallways? Does it not flow well? Is a therapy area or the resting area not set up correctly so that flow can be efficient for you and your staff members? Also are your CAs set up where they can be as efficient as possible? This may involve placing your front desk close to the therapy area so that they are able to efficiently serve both of those areas in your office. There are many things that can come into play with that.

Over the years of setting up offices to be as efficient as possible for productivity and profitability I’ve seen small things make a big difference. Once a chair (one chair!) moved in the office to the proper place allowed this doctor and his staff to increase that practice by $10,000 a month. I would say that’s being much smarter instead of working harder. It took about 30 seconds to move that chair and it increased profitability by $10,000 a month.

The third thing I want to talk about is educating your patients. When I say educating your patients that means a lot of things to a lot of people in the chiropractic world. This is not only educating them on what chiropractic is and what chiropractic is about. To work smarter and not harder you want to educate your patients so they can make intelligent choices in your office.

Educate your patients

If you want to keep working harder just keep trying to sell them and just keep trying to convince them that chiropractic is what they need. That’s not only working harder but that’s frustrating and that gets old after a while. I hear complaints from chiropractors all the time, “I feel like I’m selling all the time,” or, “I’m tired of feeling like a used car salesman.” How do we work smarter and not harder with that?

The first thing you need to realize is that everyone wants to buy but no one wants to be sold. I’ll say that one more time. Everyone wants to buy but no one wants to be sold. How do we work smarter with this? Again, it’s back to your system. You have to give the patients the knowledge they need to make the correct decision so they’re not just basing their decision on money, or on being in or out of pain. They understand their health, the problem that they have, and what needs to be done to correct that problem.

What’s your goal?

If you can do that, you’re going to have a lot less energy and effort put forward because the patient is making the decision. They want to buy. They understand the need that they have, they understand the product that you have in your office, and how that product can make a difference in their health moving forward. These are just three of dozens or hundreds of things that you can do in your office to work smarter and not harder.

The rest is up to you. Maybe your desire to be more productive and efficient is because you want to go from seeing 50, 100, or 150 patient visits a week to seeing 300, 400, or 500 patient visits a week. Maybe you want to work less. You would like to stay right where you’re at with 300 patient visits a week but instead of working four and a half or five days a week fitting those same patient visits into three days, three and a half days, or even two and a half days a week. Having that productivity is working smarter not harder.

– Dr. Todd Osborne

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