By Dr Richard Mitton
How often in practice do we see the clients who make a big commitment to their health care get far better results than clients who simply “give it a try”?
More often than not, those clients who make a commitment to their full chiropractic experience get extraordinary long-term results in their health care and their life.
Just like creating an A-client in practice, A-associates also take a significant commitment from both the principal and the associate to really get the best out of their partnership.
Here are some of the key attributes of a win-win relationship:
It is unusual for a partnership to work when the associate and principal have a different philosophy. If the principal has a vitalistic, wellness philosophy and puts his/her clients on a rigorous schedule of care while the associate utilises a general “symptom care” approach to new clients, both parties are likely to be disappointed.
A common difficulty that arises is when the associate believes they have a wellness philosophy yet schedules clients for something completely different. Actions speak louder than words about your beliefs and health philosophy.
A Passion to Make a Difference:
Some associates worry that their lack of experience, college they went through, age, adjusting ability and/or personality are the most important factors in their employers eyes. Often times, the associates’ passion and drive to get out and share their message is the MOST SIGNIFICANT factor a potential employer is looking for. It is often easier to mentor an associate about how to be a great chiropractor then it is to give them the passion to take the bull by the horns and get out into the marketplace.
Willingness to Take Responsibility for Their Own Practice Growth:
Most new associates have an unreasonable expectation that for the percentage the principal retains of the associates’ services, the principal should be doing the associates’ marketing to bring in a constant flow of new clients with which to grow the practice.
Many associates are resentful of the DC not sharing more new clients while the principal resents the associate rushing out of the practice after their last client to turn up the next day with a marketing strategy of “hope” alone.
Most associates have no idea what it costs to run a practice let alone what the principal has invested over many years to create a practice for the associate to walk into and see clients with little to no skin in the game.
Associates need to take responsibility for growing and marketing their own practice as if it were their own.
An Appetite to Learn and Grow:
A willingness to learn and grow is frequently lacking in many associates as they exit college with a degree as if it were a season pass to all the new clients they duly deserve.
Most principals are looking for an associate to be able to stand on their own 2 feet but not so much so that they are unwilling to listen or an appetite to grow.
An attitude of “I have just passed the exams so I know all I need to practice successfully” isn’t going to work. A mutual respect of both parties to learn from one another is a win-win recipe.
Click here to read on integrating a new associate within your practice.
The associate must realise that their qualifications give them the entitlement to “practice”. As in any type of practice, there will be many ups and downs. Often from the biggest failures come the greatest lessons so to bale out when the going gets tough may rob the associate of the impetus to succeed. Both parties need to hang tight and see out the challenges that will inevitably arise.
Open Communication to Work Through Any Issues That Arise:
If there were one key to any business (or personal) relationship, open communication would trump all others. Misunderstanding and resentment readily take the place of open communication often to the point that previously successful partnerships turn sour and vindictive (sounds like an ugly divorce doesn’t it?).
Many associates leave a practice because they feel unsupported while the principal withholds support because of a lack of communication and resentment.
Just like a personal relationship, a successful business relationship requires a commitment to sit down, knee to knee, every week, just like a full team meeting and TALK. Be diplomatic but also open and honest! NEVER avoid the difficult conversations – that will become toxic.
Under Promise and Over Deliver:
Both parties must be equally accountable. It’s no good if the principal is getting tough on the associate for not going out to do marketing if the principal is not equally accountable for the administrative tasks they say they will do.
I remember one young associate asking me when she should reasonably expect her wages to be paid. I said by Monday evening. When I was late paying them one week she respectfully confronted me and held me accountable to my word. How could I expect her to conform to my scripts and procedures if I was out of integrity paying her on time? This was a big lesson.
Potential to Increase Income Share and Purchase Equity in the Business:
Along with communicating the medium and long term goals of the associate, it is equally important to negotiate a package that gives a good associate a reason to stay on.
Surprisingly, more money is not always the key aspect an associate is looking for.
Commonly, they will have goals around an opportunity to be independent or to buy into the partnership. This could take many forms including the associate opening and managing a satellite practice with the support of the principal or even to purchase the goodwill and go out on their own. These possibilities need to be discussed or the principal may find the associate does this on their own anyway.
When a greater financial percentage is requested, this option should be discussed in conjunction with knowledge of the practice overheads otherwise the principal can sound greedy and unreasonable.
When associate understand more about the backend of the business, they are usually more willing to negotiate a reasonable % remuneration scale.
Like great clients, great associates don’t generally just appear, they are created. The above steps will help nurture a winning business relationship.
Syllabus 5 – Administration