Many functional medicine doctors wonder how to build a successful medical practice. But if you’re trying to attract more patients and charge what you deserve there’s one big problem in your way.
A lot of people don’t understand what you do.
When you talk about what you do at a dinner party, people aren’t sure what questions to ask. Or when you see patients, they voice hesitations you know they wouldn’t have if you were a general practitioner.
You know it’s not personal. Functional medicine is a newer and growing field. A lot of people just aren’t as familiar with it yet.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating.
Unfortunately, if people don’t understand what you do, it makes it harder for you to earn a good profit.
Here are two reasons why misunderstanding has been hurting your business:
1. It makes it hard to charge what you deserve.
Have you ever had people question how much you charge them?
Because they don’t know as much about your profession, they don’t have a baseline for how much good care costs.
I know a lot of doctors that were forced to charge less than they’re worth to keep or sign patients. And while that compromise feels necessary in the moment, it quickly eats into profits.
You end up doing more work for less money. And once you name a low price, it’s hard to get back to charging more.
2. It makes it challenging to streamline your services.
Sometimes patients will push you to make your service offerings more flexible than you want them to be.
They’ll ask for something that you don’t really focus on or will request additional help that isn’t cost-justified.
You know these a la carte options aren’t what’s best for your practice. But if you need the business in the short term, you tend to say yes. Again, while that gives you a client or a little money for today, it means you’re going to leak cash over time.
It’s likely that the more services you offer, the more expenses you’ll have.
You’ll need to pay for equipment or training that you don’t want to be using in the first place. Instead of doing the thing you’re best at and can make the most profitable, you’re stuck doing a little bit of everything. That’s simply not scalable.
So What Can You Do About It?
People base value for something on how much they pay for it. So if they’re paying less for your services, they’ll only continue to see what you do as less valuable.
The more you bend to accommodate requests outside your specialty, the more twisted their view of your services will become.
Both cases keep people from understanding functional medicine and it keeps you from being able to charge what you deserve.
That’s not to say this is your fault. It’s not up to you to educate everyone.
It’s up to you to change your strategy.
Build a New Strategy
You need to develop a business strategy that is specific to what you do and how much you charge.
I advise doctors to look at the services they offer. Based on everything that you could offer, what services are best for your practice? Which ones do you enjoy the most or have the greatest talent for? And which services have the best profit margins?
Write down a list of your favorite service offerings. Then after running the numbers, highlight the ones that are most profitable.
This simple exercise helps you get a clearer focus for your practice. Instead of feeling tempted to do everything, you now know what you want to specialize in. So now when someone asks you for something else, you have to tell them that’s outside the scope of your offerings.
The Benefits of Streamlining Your Practice
It’s hard to say no to new business at first, but soon, the pros will outweigh the cons.
With a clear list of services, you can establish a clear list of prices. You’ll know exactly how much a treatment is worth so you can know how much to charge. And because you won’t be put on the spot with an outside-your-specialty request, you won’t feel forced to quickly name a low price.
Yes, some prospective patients might not like the numbers they hear. But you’ll more than makeup for any losses because you don’t have to spend as much time educating people on your services.
With fewer offerings, you just need to become clear about the few things you do. Since these are the few things you do best, you’ll be better equipped to share your message. With this clarity, your marketing will become more effective. And because you don’t have to spend as much time explaining and compromising, you’ll have more time for working with new patients.
The heart of this strategy is a switch from reactive to proactive. Instead of fitting your practice to meet a patient’s expectations, structure your business in a way that streamlines your business and their understanding.
It’s Time to Conquer Your Problems
The biggest problem functional medicine doctors face is people misunderstanding what they do. This misunderstanding keeps your practice from making the profits it deserves.
But if you take a proactive approach and get clear about what you do and how much it costs, you’ll be able to take home more money and sign patients that are excited and grateful for what you do.