There are many wise sayings about the power of words that we can utilize to improve our chiropractic business.

One of the most applicable bits of wisdom to consider is expressed in the Hawk Nelson song that’s simply titled “Words” and it’s this: “words can build you up or words can break you down.”  

Because of my “work smarter, not harder” tagline, I get a lot of requests from chiropractors looking for the “magic bullet.”  Essentially, they want to know how they can significantly grow their practice with one simple tweak.  Over the past couple years, I have observed a transformation in a number of practices that is just about as close to the magic bullet as I have ever seen — and it this transformation was fueled by the power of…words.

And for those of you who dislike the idea of memorizing scripts, the coolest thing about this powerful transformation you can orchestrated in your practice is that it is literally 2 words that creates the space for this change:  one word to add, one to remove. No scripts needed. Just two words.

Think that’s far-fetched? Check out these successful “case-studies” from my coaching clients and from my practice:

The Results: 

  • 2 years after a one office made this paradigm shift their practice went from $450,000 per year to $800,000 per year (177% improvement!)
  • Another practice finally made the jump (after 10 years of failed attempts trying) to from a solo DC to 3.5 busy DC’s (in one year).
  • Still a third coaching client went from watching her income roller go up and down each month to a solid 7 figures

The Opportunity

One of the coolest parts of this two-word tweak is that it can easily be made in any practice – it’s literally just 2 words.  Regardless of your technique, and I have had the privilege of seeing its massive effectiveness reproduced many times over among my coaching clients!

The One Word Paradigm Shift

 In most cases, chiropractors feel the need to examine and evaluate a patient as soon as possible after the patient calls but they often put treatment off to a later date. Unfortunately, when that later date comes around, life begins to happen.  Perhaps the patients pain level has diminished. Perhaps their perception of the significance of their problem has begun to wane.  It’s certainly possible that they begin to forget your explanations of their problem or its seriousness.  In other words, in time, the need for treatment tends to decrease in many patients.

In case you think this is unique to your patients, note the marketing emphasis on “today”, “now”  and “soon” in virtually every ad.  The fact is, the problem is not just in your practice — it’s everywhere. And it may be a losing battle to fight it.  We can all moan about the excuses patients give for not making their appointments, not starting care but the reality is that you are probably not much different.  I can certainly admit that I have cancelled or rescheduled on my dentist several times and it’s nothing personal – life happens. Today is better because now is more reliable than later.

How to Avoid Cancellation or Commitment Cancer

So the big question is what can be done to avoid these inevitable obstacles to getting a patient under chiropractic care that are literally a cancer upon our practices that destroy profit potential?

A few years back, I had a brush with serious illness (not cancer, thankfully) that really changed the way that I looked at practice and at life in general.  I committed myself to making every day count and to be intensely focused on the present. Inside the office, that meant a paradigm shift where I was determined to help as many patients as possible that same day.  Yes, TODAY became my buzzword.

With this new focus, I was able to double my practice three years in a row despite my health forcing me to work less hours.  Though I didn’t know it at the time, that was the beginning of my work smarter mantra. Most interestingly, the same phenomenon has been repeated as described above and by many of my clients.  By committing to asking patients “Would you like to get started TODAY?” or by stating “We can start taking care of this problem TODAY!” you begin to earn a reputation for treating patients how they want to be treated.

 Walk a Mile in Your Patients Shoes

Think about it: who wants to call an office when you are in pain to be told that you have to wait two days for an appointment to then be told that you have to wait another couple days for treatment to start?  With that mode, nearly a week goes by from the point that the patient was committed to taking action to the point that something is done.  In today’s fast paced, instant gratification, instant-messaging world, a week is a looong time to wait.

One Word to Remove

Just as adding one word (and the systems to support it) can help create a paradigm shift in your practice, REMOVING one word will also go a long way to putting a firm foundation underneath the massive change you are about to orchestrate.

To do this, you must eliminate the word “ONLY” from the vocabulary of your practice.  Here’s why:

The concept behind TODAY is to release the brakes that typically slow down or burden your practice or patient volume. But the word ONLY is a word of limits.

Furthermore, if you continue to use the word ONLY, you will continue to establish limits in your practice that may get in the way of the very boundaries your were trying to remove by installing the word TODAY. It would be like buying a sports car that can go from 0-150mph in a few fast seconds,  but then proceeding to drive it only in the 25mph school zones. Sure, the car still has potential to go very fast, but not on the road that you are driving it.

Let me explain a little further:

The Damage & Dangers of ONLY Thinking (& Speaking)

Here are a few examples of how ONLY can ruin things around the office:

  • The CA states to a new patient: “Your insurance ONLY covers 6 visits.” [This language makes the patient feel inferior. As if everyone else’s insurance is much better, when the reality may not be true at all.  Instead, the CA could have simply stated, “Your insurance covers 6 visits.”  or even enthusiastically stated that the insurance coverage was 6 visits.  The coverage is the same in all three, but the ONLY word is the worst option]


  • Your new patient is thrilled to start care.  Your CA explains their insurance benefits that unfortunately, include a big deductible before the benefits will kick in.  The patient is ready to start TODAY but…they weren’t prepared to make a big financial decision all at once.  Your CA sympathetically works up a weak smile by saying “I’m sorry, I’m ONLY a CA so I don’t make the rules around here.” [She limits her own power and demonstrates a lack of preparedness by not having financial options ready. And the CA makes the patient feel inferior, as if they are the only one in the practice with this situation.]


  • A patient calls who has just been in a car accident and wants to be seen TODAY.  The CA responds that New Patients are ONLY seen in the morning (or on certain days or whatever limitation you may arbitrarily impose.  [Really? you would turn down a PI patient instead of working them into the schedule – or even rescheduling someone who wouldn’t be terribly inconvenienced?  Even if you had to take down the patient’s info and get back to them about the appointment, that’s better than the inflexibility of ONLY]

Your Delivery Determines Your Dollars (& When It Won’t)

In the most basic sense, the ability to Deliver care TODAY and the flexibility to avoid ONLY-minded thinking are really just two small, but important parts of creating efficient and effective delivery systems as a whole for your business.

Where’s “the catch?” you may ask.  After all, it is only two words.  Any chiropractic office could certainly train itself to employ two words.

After years of coaching highly successful chiropractic practices, I can assure you that this isn’t the sole source of their success.

However, I can also encourage you that if you are serious about moving towards the goals of more income and more impact in your practice, installing the TODAY mentality and avoiding the ONLY mindset are two steps in the right direction and will bring you in the company of super-successful chiropractors who have already made the paradigm shift of creating efficient and effective delivery systems!

Finally, implementing these ideas does NOT mean that you have to be high volume.  However, if you want to adopt another hallmark of seven figure practices, you will acknowledge that you must maximize the productivity of your office for your practice style.  For most businesses, there’s a lot of room for improvement there.  Case in point from our doc above: one word can equal a $400,000 income increase.

In the meantime, start your paradigm shift to removing the limiting beliefs that ONLY keep you where you are and start serving patients better TODAY!