By Freddie Ulan, DC, CCN
Let’s look at what some of the rules are for managing a nutritional practice. These rules are so important that I’ve elevated them to the status of axioms (statements or propositions which are regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true).
What is axiom number one for running a nutritional practice? “Never start a treatment program or sell a supplement until you know what the patient needs, and the patient understands and has accepted your recommendations and is committed to doing the program.” That’s axiom number one.
Has anybody here ever violated this one? All of us. There isn’t anybody who hasn’t, in their enthusiasm for getting that patient on board, as soon as they have the slightest idea of what they needed sold them a product and told them to do it. But you see the big problem here is that really short cuts the patient’s educational curve and it gives them the misinterpretation and misunderstanding that the product is the program. You see the product is not the program. The product is one of the tools that enables them to complete the program.
So, you never, ever start a treatment program or sell a supplement until you know what the patient needs (which for us is on that very first meeting). But, you also don’t sell that treatment program or start a treatment program or sell a supplement until the patient understands and has accepted your recommendations and is committed to doing your program. This is rule number one. To the degree that you violate this you are cutting yourself off at the legs. You’re cutting your feet right out from under you.
There’s a procedure for accomplishing this and if you know how to do this procedure, you will do it successfully. What happens when a patient understands and has accepted your recommendations and commits to do the program? They follow your recommendations and they do the program. It’s a little simplistic, I know, but that’s actually what happens.
Let’s look at axiom number two. This is a hard one, but I love this one the most. This is the one that gives me the most joy. “Never sell more supplements than the patient needs to take him or her to the next scheduled visit.” Never sell more supplements than the patient needs to take him or her to the next scheduled visit.
There are many reasons for this, but one of them is strictly financial. In a cash practice, why try to sell the patient a bunch more supplements than he may or may not need. Because every time he has to pay out a large amount of money, it’s painful. It’s much better psychologically to have the patient paying out as little as he can. We can even budget it. Psychologically, much better.
But there’s another thing: if you put the patient on a program, you say, “Well, you’re going to be on this program for 3 months, but I’m going to see you every week and I’m going to sell you 3 months’ worth of products”. They miss a supplement, they miss an appointment, they don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. “Well, I still have plenty of supplements.” I want my patients coming in for the next visit so that I can verify that they need to continue those supplements. And yes, they usually do, but the patient needs to come in, in order to be kept on the program. And this is one of the tools to keep the patient on the program, it’s never selling them more supplements than they need to carry them to the next visit.
I’ll give you a real simple example of this: the guy tests for 12 Cardio-Plus a day and you start him on his program. How much Cardio-Plus does he need to buy to take him to his next visit next week? One bottle—what size? Small. Sell him one small bottle of Cardio-Plus. Next week, you test him and he still tested for 12 a day, sell him another small bottle. Now, if that happens three weeks in a row, you say, “You know, it looks like you’re going to be on this product for a while. You could save a little money by buying a big bottle.” That’s okay at that point. You see?
But there’s nothing worse than selling the patient a 360 tablet bottle of Cardio-Plus because you think he needs it and 3 days into it, he’s got a problem with it. It doesn’t happen very often, but it happens enough that it backs you off. And then they got this big open bottle of Cardio-Plus. And let me tell you, the longer that Cardio-Plus, once it’s open, the longer it stays in that bottle, the worse it smells. And after a while the only thing you can really do with it is put it out in your garden. You know, you’ll get some real good vegetables. Putting that Cardio-Plus out there, you’ll get vegetables with heart, you know.
The key is never sell more supplements than the patient needs to take him or her to the next scheduled visit. It keeps the pain of the cash practice down by doing this. And it enables you to control the patient’s schedule better.
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