“Don’t forget, be in front of the mall by 3 o’clock tomorrow or you will get left behind” I reminded the front office crew as I zipped past to start my weekend. “Oh, don’t worry about us, everyone knows and will be there” one of the chiropractic assistants quickly rebuts.

As my business partner and I pull up in the stretch Hummer with dark tinted windows, we have the driver stop right in front of them so we can enjoy the moment and watch them crack jokes like “Oh, there’s my car, finally!” Little did they know, it was. At my prompting, the driver promptly steps out and hustles around to swing open the rear door while simultaneously inviting our staff to please climb aboard. 

“Oh my gosh!” and “No you didn’t” is of course the first words out of their mouths as they embark their vessel for the day. After much praise for a job well done in hitting their individual and team goals over the last 60 days, a bottle of champagne and a quick stop for dinner, it was time for the grand finale and so “back to the mall” we instructed the driver. As we pulled up, envelopes were handed to each of the employees. “The time is 6pm. In each of those envelopes is $100. You have 45 minutes to spend it. It must all be spent on you and every penny you have remaining at the end of the allotted time must be returned to us. Ready, set, go!”

If you’ve been a practicing chiropractor for any length of time, you likely have a few staff members. If you have staff, you have likely set up a bonus or other incentive at some time in the past for one specific reason…keeping their eye on the prize, or goal as you probably dub it at your staff meetings.

For all practical purposes, common goals a chiropractor might set for his or her staff with an incentive tied on could include:

– Patient visits (PV), per day, per month, per quarter, etc. This would apply to front desk staff, independent contractors such as massage therapists, and associates. A new patient goal would apply in the same way.

– Collections target, a designated increase from the previous month or even a goal to collect a certain amount on old debt. If certain staff is privy to this information then gains in gross income can serve as a great goal. This would primarily apply to billing personnel, office managers and/or associate doctors who fully manage the practice.

– Percentage changes. For example, a 20% decrease in the missed appointments for the month. A 20% increase in PV for a month over the same month last year, and so on. This can apply to multiple staff members.

Whatever the goal you set, the question then becomes, ‘beyond just dedication to the practice, what is it that really motivates staff to give that greater effort and extra push throughout the day, the month and the year?’

Many chiropractic coaches and practice management companies cite the top motivator as money. And for all practical purposes, though it’s not going to win any awards for originality, the potential of a cash infusion is a great fall back plan and easy way to get the undivided attention of employees that otherwise might be coasting through the motions each day.

This could include a cold hard onetime cash payout, a raise or even a percentage ownership in the business.

If you choose to go this route, what I recommend is immediate short term bonuses to incentivize for the short term and then a more significant and long term reward such as a raise or stake in the company (revocable at time of sale of course) for hitting the short term goal for a designated period of time – say 9 months consecutively.

Other motivators beyond money include more original rewards like dinner or gift certificates, a paid day off the following month, added flex time to use in the future or even tickets to the big game.

However, I challenge you to think even further outside the box at least one month out of the year. Perhaps it is something like the surprise ‘limo shopping spree’ depicted above or maybe it’s a special vacation where you pay the lodging and transportation for each staff member that hits their goal and one guest.

For any staff member that doesn’t hit their goal, they can still come along on most of the bigger bonus outings but there is a cost they must pay. I typically set this expense at 50% of the retail value of their portion of the vacation or give them $50 rather than $100 for their shopping spree. You get the picture.

While for staff a creative reward is a huge incentive to perform optimally and hit the loftier goals, for you, these special occasions are at chance to gather the staff and discuss how the year is shaping up, where the weaknesses are and how we can go back Monday morning and kick it up a notch.

This team building aspect is also the reason I still make it enticing for even those that don’t hit their goal to come along.  Just like attending a seminar, invariably we return the next week to more new patients and a higher visit volume than we had the week prior.

I realize not every chiropractor is ready or able to plan a bonus trip or shopping spree for a super successful month or quarter but just as you are assigning your staff members their goals and then planting an incentive next to it to ensure they stay laser focused, set a goal for yourself to come up with more creative and exciting rewards that will generate a new level of anticipation and drive for you and the staff.

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