The stats show that about two-thirds of us make New Year’s resolutions. My guess is that the majority of the other third can’t help but think at least a little bit about 2009, too. It’s natural. We’re thinking about getting organized and making fresh starts. Out with the old. In with the new. We feel the need to grow, change and just get better at what we do.

The challenge is that these are pretty big projects, and it’s easy to bite off more than your practice can chew. Instead, I like to think of one principle to focus on in the coming year. It’s a bit like herding – I need one idea that can guide all those tiny details, decisions and actions in the right direction. Each “cow” might have its own unique path and nature, but at the end of the year, I want all those bovine bits to arrive at the same place.

The guiding word for this year? SERVE.

Why Service is Everything in Practice

It’s hard to be the cheapest in this industry. Or to have the biggest selection. It’s not usually that helpful to be the fastest, either. So how do you compete?

The truth is you’re not really competing with the practitioner down the road, you’re competing with a preconceived notion about what health care is. You’re competing with ideas in the minds of prospective clients. Things like “free”, “covered by insurance” “requires an MD”, “needs a white coat”, and “happens in a hospital only”. These are ideas that pop up when someone needs care, and they stop people from choosing you.

So how do you compete, and grow? In this industry, you can best compete by providing incredible service, all the time. You grow, in other words, when you serve. It’s the word for this year, but it’s probably the word for every year.

As Gandhi said:

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

What We’re Doing About It (and You Can, Too)

We have two pushes on for the year to help us serve better.

  1. Project 52: We’ve been rolling out a big service push at our office – it started back with the parking bowl phenomenon, really, but our niche has always been high service, and I want to take it up a notch. We’ve started what we call Project 52, which is our goal to make one customer service improvement every week all year. It’s fun, it’s tangible, and everyone gets on board.
  2. Random Acts of Service: Sometimes an opportunity appears to go that extra mile. We’re going to try to seize more of them. A client is an avid reader? We send them a book that will really help them. A client loves the warm slippers we provide in a treatment room? We mail them a pair. These are little things that we don’t do for everyone, but that we do when we know someone will really love it. It feels wonderful to do it, and it’s great for business.

The great thing about this stuff is that it’s inexpensive. I bet most of our Project 52 ideas will be free (so far they are) – they’ll be tiny tweaks and improvements that really aren’t hard or costly.

People Who Can Help YOU

Here’s some 2008 gratitude and some 2009 well-wishes to the people out there who are doing their best to serve YOU so you can better serve others. I think these folks are an important part of what we’re all doing to help people get better. I’d say most aren’t making millions doing this – they’re just jazzed about helping you so you can help others. You should pay them a visit. They’ll help you serve.

To all of the following, in no particular order: thanks for all you do to serve, and thanks for the great interactions we’ve had in the last year. (If I’ve missed you please let me know!!)

To all of our regular readers and visitors, and to practitioners everywhere: Thank you, and may 2009 be as remarkable as you are.

-Dan and Tara

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5 Responses to “The One Word You Need to Grow Your Practice in 2009”

  1. Thanks for a great website here and mentioning my blog. This is a great site with some quality alternative healthcare advice. I look forward to reading your posts in 2009.

  2. Dan says:

    Thanks Michael – good luck in 2009!

  3. Wise thoughts. Hope you have better opportunity in 2009!

  4. […] This shift is simply about service. A waiting list that is built around the intention of, “not wasting time we could be billing for,” will never work as well as one that’s built to serve. […]

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