Posts Tagged ‘Business’

It’s me again

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013


Sanders remains the official face of Kentucky ...

Sanders remains the official face of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and appears on its logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey there faithful blog readers. I took the month of April off from the blog, hope you don’t hold it against me.

What was I doing? Eating my own dog food, as my friend Frank says. I love helping other doctors make sense of their crazy practices. But sometimes the doctor has to take his own medicine.

Mainly I’ve been focusing on branding, marketing and PR opportunities at the practice. We’ve got some good people added to the team, some cool programs and we’re kicking off some initiatives that I think will both help people and help them connect to who we are.

So many of the practices I encounter are bland, brutally dull, cold, disorganized and the same as all the rest. While you’re seeing all those patients, and fighting against the insurance companies who are so easily stealing your lunch money every darn recess, maybe you should pause and reflect. Maybe you should ask yourself, who are we? Who are our best patients? Why do they like us so much? Why do we like them? Why do we exist in this market? If we were to go away tomorrow, what void will be filled?

Physician-employees don’t think that way, you can be sure. And if you are an employee who just doesn’t want to trust the man, please admit that to yourself and go work for the man. Nobody will think less of you for it. Frankly nobody will care. Get over your petty stuff and find an identity for your practice and figure out how to do that. Remember the old KFC motto: “We do chicken right.”

The beginning of your marketing plan is your market position. That’s a good place to start if you’re lost.

David Zahaluk, MD is a revenue enhancement specialist for doctors and the author of “The Ultimate Practice Building Book.”

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You should listen to Gary

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013
Image of Wine Library TV's Gary Vaynerchuk.

Image of Wine Library TV's Gary Vaynerchuk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You should follow Gary Vaynerchuck if you aren’t already. If you like what I have to say, you will probably be into Gary. Mainly Gary is about hustle. And hustle is still 90% of your success.

Most of you are just too soft, too white bread and not nearly disciplined enough. If that is the case, listen to Gary. Here is a really cool video that will show you Gary at his best, prowling the stage like caged tiger.:

And most of all, don’t accept what is easy if there is something more worthwhile available.


David Zahaluk, MD is a revenue enhancement specialist for doctors and the author of “The Ultimate Practice Building Book.”

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What will you get out of yourself this week? Part I

Sunday, January 27th, 2013


Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (Photo credit: casually_cruel)

Growth – whether personal or business – requires peak efficency of time use, among other things. The receptionist, who improves her phone skills and turns 8 hours of inbound calls into 10 appointments per day, instead of 5 is an easy example of this. So when you think of growing your income, you have to ask the question, “what should I be doing?” Or to be more precise, “what activities do I do that contribute the most to my business?’ And by extension, “what do I do that someone else could do and it would not make a difference who does them?”

Most doctors and small business people are messed up in this area. They think about this with their emotions rather than their logic. They do what they are most trained at, what they are good at and what they like to do. This is a normal and human reaction but that does not make it the right answer. As the busienss owner you are forced to think about what brings you personal fulfillment versus what your business requires to sustain and grow.

To me, it makes no sense to go to all the trouble of owning a practice and not mastering the business part of it. Why do things wrong only to get your patients upset with you, have to let your staff go, neglect your personal life and have money problems? It’s less work in the long run to just figure out how to do things right and do that. It’s not less work to outsource the whole thing to someone else unless they have a proven, proprietary method that works.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will take the first four to sharpen my axe.”

He was right.

David Zahaluk, MD is a revenue enhancement specialist for doctors and the author of “The Ultimate Practice Building Book.”

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What will your practice (or business) look like at the end of 2012?

Sunday, January 6th, 2013


Brian Tracy

Cover of Brian Tracy

What will your practice look like at the end of 2013?

What changes will you make to the practice? Will those changes buy you more free time? A better team? Less headaches? New services? Better clinical care? Better customer service? Better revenues? Better bank financing? Better strategic alliances? More fame?

Or will you simply do more of the same and hope that things will become better over time? Hint: they wont, they usually get worse.

What changes will you make personally in 2013? Will you get in better physical shape? Will you take better care of your money? Will you become personally more organized? Will you become a better partner in your romantic relationships? Will you discover new friendships? Will you get more involved in giving back?

How will you balance out your 6 human needs? Every human being needs:

  • Certainty that things will be all right
  • Variety so you don’t get bored
  • Significance, the concept you are a worthwhile person
  • Love and connection
  • Growth
  • Contribution to others

Find out where you are weakest and try to improve that area. If you want to be succesful and happy, you must grow and contribute. Otherwise, let’s face facts,  you are just mailing it in.

One last thing. Brian Tracy asks a great question, “What has to happen in 2013 for you to say it was an amazing year?” Answer that question and go to work on it every single day of the year. Then it really will be a great year!

David Zahaluk, MD is a revenue enhancement specialist for doctors and the author of “The Ultimate Practice Building Book.”

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Practice Growth

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012


Revenue Growth

Revenue Growth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a very interesting conversation with a patient of mine recently. His name is Gary and he is a turnaround expert for a Fortune 100
company. Most large companies keep a roster of smaller companies that they may want to buy. It’s a growth and diversification strategy that allows them to easily acquire more customers and gain access to a related market niche. Nestle, Coke and Pepsi use this strategy to diversify their product offerings. American Airlines used it to buy Travelocity, to ensure their flights got preferential positioning in the online search for affordable travel. General Motors used it to acquire what is now GMAC, a company that offers auto financing, commercial credit lines and mortgages.

I asked Gary about how his team works to raise the revenue of companies by a factor of 5-10 times. He shared something that I believe is worth
repeating. He said most companies that bring in $1 million a year operate entirely differently than companies that bring in $10 million. And those companies act very differently from others that earn $50 million. Your company (or in this case your practice) matures to a certain level and then gets stuck. It can crank out $1 million a year but it can’t possibly generate $10 million. It can’t do that, unless someone with a big picture focus takes over and makes the moves necessary to grow the revenue.

Gary went on to say that lots of time growth is a simple matter of bringing in technical efficiencies, opening up new markets, and using
pre-existing strategic relationships to grow the newly acquired company. It’s easy for Gary but next to impossible for the people who grew the business from scratch. They can’t see it any different than where it is now. Gary doesn’t fall in love with the product or the people who make it, and he is unbiased to the results of new strategies undertaken. He is charged with one overall objective: grow the revenue. Very little else matters.

David Zahaluk, MD is a revenue enhancement specialist for doctors and the author of “The Ultimate Practice Building Book.”

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How do you hire an office manager

Monday, October 29th, 2012


Office Manager

Office Manager (Photo credit: mikecogh)

A really good office manager is the difference between a practice that is constant stress and turmoil and a practice where you can enjoy the contribution you make to your patients. The more decisions you have to make and implement the more you need a good office manager. The #1 problem with being a self employed doctor is trying to do too many things at once. You need a solid team to solve this one.

Here are the steps we go through in the process:

1. Define what the office manager is going to do. A better place to start, decide what he or she will not do. Leave time in their workflow for “stuff” that comes up and somebody has to manage or the whole practice will be in chaos.

2. Define how you are going to measure their success. Hint: Use numbers. What cannot be measured, cannot be managed.

3. Define the level of training and experience they must have.

4. Define the character traits you need them to have. Hint: Leadership and strong boundaries ought to be on your list. Those who can’t make a decision without getting an ulcer won’t enjoy being a manager.

5. Make sure you find someone that balances your strengths, not mirrors them. I’m a big picture guy, so I need detail people to support me. If I hired a bunch of managers like me, we would never stop talking about how to make the practice better and get nothing done.

6. Place an ad.

7. Review resumes daily and call in good ones for interview ASAP. Good talent is hard to find. Don’t let your competition beat you to the hire.

8. Do personality testing on the candidates to see if their temperment matches your needs. We use the DISC personality profile, it’s as good as any.

David Zahaluk, MD is a revenue enhancement specialist for doctors and the author of “The Ultimate Practice Building Book.”

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Don’t be such a cold fish

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
Halibut in Macks Sport Shop, Kodiak, Alaska

Halibut in Macks Sport Shop, Kodiak, Alaska (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The number one reason why patients leave a practice is apathy. The provider and their staff seem cold, judgmental, slow to respond to legitimate needs, uncommitted and uncaring. It’s not just bad customer service, it’s also bad practice. You get most of your diagnostic information from history unless you are a radiologist or a pathologist. Listen better. Get more involved. It’ll make your job easier.

Make a decision right away about what you are going to do to bring your practice to a significantly higher level of engagement wiht your patients. Then decide the resources you will commit in terms of time, energy and money. It won’t be easy or even necessarily free, but it will be worth it. Send me your success stories so I can share them with the world.

David Zahaluk, MD is a revenue enhancement specialist for doctors and the author of “The Ultimate Practice Building Book.”

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Right under your nose all the time

Monday, April 30th, 2012
tomato nose

tomato nose (Photo credit: tyger_lyllie)

There are probably many other business opportunities – other than your core practice - that are right under your nose but you don’t see them. Courtesy of Jay Abraham – and if you don’t know Jay you should – here is a classic example:

A man in Los Angeles has a high end custom pool building business. His average price to put in  a pool is about $40,000. He generates leads to sell pools and he closes about 10% of the leads. While that is not a particularly good sales closing ratio, it pays the bills. His cost per lead is about $5 and his cost per sale is about $50. But still he ends up with hundreds of dead lads at the end of the year.

So Jay tells him to team up with another guy who builds high end fences. His average fence price is about $14,000. The pool contractor now personally introduces the fencing contractor to everyone he ever built a pool for. He is reimbursed 10% of all the new business the fencing contractor writes from this activity. He offers an upgrade package that includes a nicer fence to all of his past clients and again gains a share of the fencing contractor’s revenue. Finally he sells all of his unconverted leads to the fencing contractor at more than $5 a pop so he lowers his lead costs. And on top of that, every time the fencing contractor builds a fence for someone he introduces the pool contractor and his services for a similar revenue share. Talk about optimizing the use of those leads.

Your business might be more tightly regulated than the building professions, but think about that example for a minute. What similar situation exists in your field that you haven’t yet captured? Send in your ideas so I can share them with the world.

David Zahaluk, MD is a revenue enhancement specialist for doctors and the author of “The Ultimate Practice Building Book.”

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Get out of the way!

Saturday, March 31st, 2012
NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 02:  Lars Eller #81 of t...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

You are in the way of your practice growth. Face it, if your practice is 3 years old or more, it’s not going to change unless someone (probably from the outside) brings in new people or new processes or both.

Try this exercise. Figure out your practice profit from 2011. Now multiply by ten. What would you have to do to acheive that? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Hire more providers in your specialty
  • Hire more providers in a different specialty that complements yours
  • Answer your phone more effectively
  • Code better
  • Bill and collect better
  • Acquire another practice
  • Start a new location
  • Bring new ancillary services into your practice
  • Start a cash pay practice option with affordable monthly payments
  • Reactivate inactive patients
  • Get current patients to refer
  • Get other doctors to refer to you
  • Get current patients to follow up better

Once you choose a strategy to get your revenue up, someone has to be responsible for the implementation – it has to be their primary job, no excuses. You probably are the provider, the marketing director and the executive in charge of practice development. If you needed your heart valve replaced, would you go to see the cardiovascular surgeon who is also an ObGyn and a rheumatologist? Put the best people in the key seats in your organization.

David Zahaluk, MD is a revenue enhancement specialist for doctors and the author of “The Ultimate Practice Building Book.”
This Horrid Practice

Image via Wikipedia

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Marketing Update

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 14:  Renowned moth...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The biggest marketing challenge for most doctors is a lack of regular contact with their market. It’s just too easy to sit behind that comfy big desk and act all smart and in control, and too hard to break out of your comfort zone. Try having more personal contact with your market. Do some speaking. Call on referral sources. Visit large employers in your market to get them to send patients to you. How hard are you willing to try to reach the level of success you want? 

All the other things that don’t require your direct particpation are good too, don’t get me wrong. Don’t stop your newsletters, twitter feed, radio commercials and Google ad words. Just see if more of you gets everythign else to work a little better.

David Zahaluk, MD is a revenue enhancement specialist for doctors and the author of “The Ultimate Practice Building Book.”

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