Do you literally want to chase away prospects from your practice transition?
Of course you don’t.
So if you are trying to hire an associate, to sell your practice or find the perfect prospect who may someday transition to ownership of your business, there are some subtle (and some not so subtle) things you need to fix FAST before the perfect prospect runs away faster. Here’s an unfortunate example:
44 Bites and Not a Single Fish to Fry
I recently spoke to a wonderful chiropractor who repeatedly experienced the same frustration in regards to his attempted transition.
At 72 years old, his number one goal was to sell his practice – 5 years ago. Three years ago, after only a few nibbles on his line, he rethought his strategy and started looking for an associate who could transition to ownership.
Despite the new approach, he still could not find the right candidate. To be more accurate, he wasn’t being picky. He found several DC’s that would make a great new doctor for his practice and many more that would likely be a good fit.
But the reality was that no one wanted his practice. In fact, he interviewed 44 separate applicants and no one had the desire for a second interview.
The Fix-it Fast List
After years of frustration and a burning desire to exit chiropractic, we spoke. What quickly emerged was a series of small “errors” that were literally causing his practice to LOSE “curb appeal.” In other words, his prospective buyers and associates were being unintentionally chased away. So, I made some suggestions and he made some changes.
Fast forward a few months and our conversation was entirely different. A perfect candidate had been found and he had a simple question about advice on next steps.
Sometimes making repairs to increase the appeal of your business transition are not always simple and cosmetic or superficial. But first impressions often are. So, before you chase away perfectly qualified candidates for your next associate position, practice solution, ownership opportunity or other transition plans, take the advice I gave Dr. Wonderful and fix these things fast. Here’s the list (which, by the way, has been proven to make a great first impression for many DC’s beyond Dr. Wonderful) – work it now before you regret it later:
Fix Your Online Curb Appeal
Any advertisement you place for an associate or practice sale or transition will immediately result in one action once your prospect has learned who you are: they will google you.
From there, a host of information will emerge that will either quickly repel that candidate or will cause them to become more interested in you. Here are the items you need to focus on:
- Website — The worst bad first impression is obviously no website. This basically tells your prospect that you have been living under a rock for more than a decade and it’s likely your numbers show it. Even if you have a website, one that looks straight out of 2005 is not going to help you either. So get a website or get yours updated to a modern look.
- Generic Website Info – it’s great that you have a website, but if you have the exact same stock template as everyone else who uses the “whole person approach”, you’re not going to differentiate yourself much. This would be fine if you were the only DC offering a job or a practice for sale, but the truth is almost completely opposite: there are more DC’s looking to get out than get in right now, so make your best effort to stand out from the crowd.
- Incomplete Website: for those docs who passed the first two requirements, then there’s the issue of the missing info. A page that says “Bio coming soon” for the past four years doesn’t speak much towards your current ambition. It says: I’m too lazy to complete my website. You don’t want to hire lazy; why would anyone want to work for or buy the practice of a doc who basically admits online to being lazy?
- Online Reviews: it’s good that you’ve been serving your community since 1972 but where are the reviews from your satisfied patients? Sure you’ve got a binder full of testimonials, but no one can see that online. Get your patients to rave about you online via Google, Facebook or other online review sites.
- Social Media Presence: of course, everyone these days is waxing on about social media as the cure-all for your new patient woes. While I’m not 100% convinced, it certainly can be a powerful tool for new patient generation AND an effective one for attracting a prospect to your practice as well. A social media presence quickly shows your prospect that, even though you may be older, you are not out of touch.
- Fix Any Online Errors and Update All Info: I’ve seen several examples where Google goofed and listed practices with the incorrect addresses, phone numbers and two examples where Google Places listed the practice as closed when it wasn’t! So make sure all your info is updated and accurate. While you are at it, update your high school yearbook or chiropractic college graduation photo that you have under the “Meet the Doctor” page on your website – it’s nice that you looked great in 1988 but folks want to get an accurate picture of who you really are.
Fix Your Clinic Curb Appeal
As I stated above, the first move is typically to go to Google.
Assuming you don’t scare them away, your prospect will eventually want to visit your office. So, here are some additional items to think about so you can avoid more problems:
- Signage Issues: one of the great long-term marketing investments you can make in practice is the purchase of effective signage for your business. Or it can be the first hint to your prospect that all is not well. Let’s make this real simple: if it’s broke, fix it. If it’s spelled wrong, correct it. If it’s peeling, paint it. If it’s ugly, get rid of it. Unlike some other advertisements, poor signage is actually worse than no signage.
- Landscaping: you can often ignore landscaping issues because it’s either not something you handle or it’s something you get used to and ignore. Here’s a quick trick to uncover your blind eye. Approach your office from a different street or different angle or stand across the street and look what you can see. Do the bushes need trimming. Are their dying trees or flowers? Is garbage littered around your parking lot? Three words: fix it fast.
- Building Repairs: If you have anything needing repair – internally or externally, you absolutely need to get it fixed before entertaining the idea of bringing a prospect into your practice. I don’t care if that means you meet in a coffee shop until the repair can be completed; it will save you from chasing away a potentially good candidate. Trust me. If your numbers aren’t stellar but the physical building looks well taken care of, a prospect may overlook the offense that you are just tired. But no one wants to buy a practice that is broken physically AND financially.
- Staff Scariness: when it comes to staff and your prospect, do yourself a favor and make your first meeting without your staff around. Beyond the confidentiality issues (which are huge), there are multiple things that can go wrong and out of your control when staff are present – all will chase that prospect a way. Here are a few not so pleasant “war stories” for your amusement. But realize that if any happened to you, there is no laughing.
- A young DC walked in for an interview and the staff asked him how old you need to be to be a chiropractor. The puzzled doctor replied that he didn’t think there was an age requirement. The staff member shot back: “Well, there should be. There was only one Doogie Howswer and they cancelled his show years ago. The folks around here aren’t going to listen to you, young fella.” Interview over.
- A candidate to buy the practice was waiting to meet the doctor when he overheard two staff speaking: “If Doc leaves, I’m outta here. It’s taken us 20 years to train her, I’m not going through that with another one.”
- An interested prospect walked in as the office manager was in the middle of a phone conversation where she was literally screaming at a patient that if they didn’t pay their bill, she would personally see to it that the doctor ruin her credit report.
- A doc waited patiently for the owner to finish up with the morning patients. For the 20 minutes or so he sat in the waiting room, he watched the receptionist text the entire time and could overhear an obviously personal conversation going on for at least 10 minutes between two other staff members. His impression: while the cat was away, the mouse will play.
What to Do Next
My main point is this: no one has perfect staff and even the best staff have bad days. For that matter, no practice, building or website is perfect either. But as the saying goes “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Here are places to start:
- Start Planning: Understand the options that you have in leaving practice (there are more than you think), how to evaluate which Chiropractic Exit Strategy option would serve you best and how to set the stage for your success.
- Get Help With Your Transition Plans: If you have a prospect and/or need assistance because you are ready to transition soon, our Chiropractic Transition Planning services can help with your “non-traditional” chiropractic practice sale or business transition (whether or not you intend to stop practicing chiropractic) by facilitating a win-win arrangement that will enable you to realize your ultimate exit strategy.
Fix what you can – sooner, rather than later. And pray that what you can’t control, goes well…
Speaking of sooner, join us for our upcoming FREE WEBINAR: Sell, Switch or Slow Down: How to Maximize the Value of Your Chiropractic Practice Sale or Transition and Minimize Costly Mistakes (click for more info)