Updated: Jan 27
I have had the grace and luck to have attended several funerals this year. Some of them are closer to me than others. It can make one numb to the idea of death.
Or it can invigorate me to be more resolute in my life missions.
When my friend John Malark died several years ago, I couldn’t stop thinking that he no longer had to pay bills. He no longer had to concern himself with employees who were negligent and unwilling to take responsiblity.
He had the luxury of not ever having to cut a colic at 3 a.m. again.
I was envious. At the time I was very stressed by my practice. I was ignoring bill collectors daily. In part because I had taken on too much responsibility. I was taking responsibility of other people’s inability to handle their own choices.
I was feeding too many families other than my own. I was also too generous to my clients, allowing them the luxury of borrowed time and money.
I’ve since realized that when that is my behavior, I am modeling poor behavior for my students, for my son and for my family.
I owe them a better example. I also owe my clients a better example - so they know that success and great animal care are one and the same. I need to teach them that they are stealing from future clients who need my services.
If they truly want my knowledge and services, they will pay full price, because they want these services to be available next year, and the year after that and the year after that, and after I am gone all together.
I owe it to the person who takes over my practice. I owe it to the people who buy my school. It should not be their responsibility to re-train clients to be good clients. When someone buys my school or practice, they want to know there will be customers on day one who are still buying and want to keep coming back.
No one wants to buy a practice that requires an overhaul. Especially an overhaul of clients. If that is the case, then that doctor is really just buying real estate. If there is real estate involved.
Many animal chiropractors have strictly mobile practices. Many have practices that run out of their homes. These practices are in jeapardy of disolving at the time of retirement unless there is structure within the practice itself that holds the clients to the practice - not to the doctor.
This is one of the most difficult problems when doctors come to me ready to sell and retire. They want to hire an associate in a month who will magically take over the practice in 3 months and they will be able to walk out the door with a pocket full of cash.
I want the luxury of good clients.
I owe it to myself to have clients who are trained to navigate the scheduling system we already have in place. And the scheduling system needs to be clear and simple for new clients to find a place on our schedule to see the doctor.
I want the luxury of students who do their work, so they can make more money and have good clients. If I don’t teach them that I have boundaries, they will be able to set boundaries with their clients
When people want the knowledge, the truth, the service enough, they can find a way to afford it at the same price as everyone else. This is true for my clients and my students.
It isn’t fair to anyone who might purchase a practice, when we let clients run the show.
That is why word of mouth advertising is bad. It allows clients to determine what you do and don’t do.
As the doctor, you have chosen the role of leader. Maybe you didn't realize that when you signed up for your degree. Now is the time to recognize the word doctor puts you into that position.
As a leader, though it demands compassion for your team, your clients and your followers, it also demands ruthlessness when it comes to setting boundaries.
Setting up boundaries begins with setting course for your own goals. Your life goals. Your mission statements. These are items you create and they give you an action plan each day. They are active and functioning items every business needs to determine the direction it is headed. As the leader of your practice, you need to remind yourself daily where you started heading in the beginning.
Your current clients may not care about your future clients, but they will continue to make future clients possible when you continue to manage the boundaries you have established.
Setting boundaries are like trimming your yard. You will need to continue to remind yourself why you have set these boundaries. You will be challenged on how these boundaries are helpful. When you mow or trim your yard, the neighbor's vegitation may challenge your boundaries. Like your clients, team members and other doctors will also challenge your boundaries.
This is why having a clearly written plan allows you to review and focus your goals. Your mission statement will guide you to continue the essential work to get you to those goals.
Using the plan and mission statement you create to market to others allows you to shape your practice rather than letting your clients run your practice.
When you build a practice that has well trained clients, you have a practice that can both scale and sell when you are ready.