Show Me the Money!

I asked my attorney friend (I know, I’m embarrassed, I have one too) how an attorney makes more money.  He replied, “Well, I guess you become a better attorney.”   I found this interesting so I started asking my other professional friends the same question.  My accountant said, “Become a better accountant” and my surgeon friend said, “Become a better surgeon.”  So, I started asking more and more doctors this same question.  The answer inevitably was either 1) I have no idea, or 2) become a better doctor.  This is interesting to me. As professionals, we take pride in being very good at what we do, so that seems to be our “go-to” answer.  However, I am going to argue that with a few exceptions.  Becoming better at what you do makes you a better professional, a better doctor, etc., but it doesn’t make you any more money.

That is not to say you can be crappy at your job and make money, although surprisingly some have.  You strongly believe you have to be good at what you do.  You can make a lot of money and be crappy but you cannot sustain it long term. You have to provide great patient care.  You must be a great doctor.  On the other hand, once you reach a certain level of competence, getting better at that skill is not likely to make you more money.  It’s your go to, it’s all you know, so that is where your concentration is focused.  I suppose if you were a little faster and could see more patients in a day, or if you improved your skill set and could do more procedures or charge more, that would be a way to make more money, but it’s the slow way and you will eventually run out of time and run out of you.

So, if that’s not the way to make more money, then what is?  The answer is to identify your target market, to find out what their pain is, and to fill the gap between their pain and the service your competitor is dishing out.  That gap is the key to making real money.  Creating more value than anyone else can be done by concentrating on solving their problems and pain. Who is your target market?   If you could create your best customers, who are they?  Not just demographics, which is what most people think about, but really who are they and what do they care about?  Create a character that is your target customer/patient.  Go ahead, do it, give them a name.  Now think about them.  How old are they?  What do they do for a living?  What are their hobbies?  What do they want?  Where do they live?  Where do they hang out?  Do they have kids or if they are kids what do their parents do?  How could you find them?  Where would you go to find them?  How could you talk directly to them without spending any money? Could it be that we have more than one target market?   For instance, most of our patients pay our bills with insurance, so it is actually the insurance company writing us a check.   Could it be that the insurance company is actually our customer?  I know that’s a crazy thought, but the reality is they pay us a lot of money.  Maybe, what if we started treating them like customers instead of like the enemy?  What if our relationship with them was as a vendor to them and they were a customer to us instead of the way we usually view it, which is the other way around?  Would our conversations be different? Would our interactions be better?   We are living proof that this actually can be true.  We have payors that have come to us and asked us to open clinics in certain towns or invited us to participate on advisory boards for them because of our relationship with them.

Could our target customer be companies?  If you do any workers compensation then absolutely this is a customer.  What is their pain?  How do they define success?  How do they define a good vendor?  Have we asked them?  Are we in partnership with them to get the employee back to work, or do we create an adversarial relationship with them?  The patient will get better, but are they excited about sending you the next one?   Think about a doctor for an NFL team.  How does he/she treat the management of that team with injured players so they will keep sending them to him/her? Do we treat our companies like that? One way to think about this is who are your best customers now?  Where did they come from?  Where do they live?  What do they do?  What do they care about?  What do they want, what are their pains and how do they define a great doctor experience? The clearer we get on who are target market is, the less money we have to spend trying to attract them.   The clearer we get on their needs, wants and pains, the easier we can build the kind of practice that will serve them.  It’s never what we do, it’s always HOW we do it.  We have to practice good medicine, that is a given.  What else we do for them, how we do it, what else we provide, how we serve them, and how else we provide huge value to our patients/customers, that is the real key to making money.

 

Living Every Minute

Dr. Tim

 

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