Building Your Practice through Stakeholder Relationships, Part III

Thomas E. Cavanaugh, DC, MBA

Developing the Supplier Stakeholder Relationship

In part II of this series of newsletters, we established the importance of developing the “patient’ stakeholder relationship. Remember, in the first part I referred to “stakeholders’ as individuals or groups who can influence or are affected by a corporation´s activities. In our field of chiropractic this would be staff, community, patients, attorneys, insurance industry, Chamber of Commerce, local charitable clubs and any other organizations pertinent to your business. Now I want to address the “supplier’ stakeholder relationship.

If you have a successful chiropractic practice, you will be bombarded daily with salespeople knocking on your door. With this in mind, remember that the way you use your time greatly determines how successful your practice is and will become.  It is very easy to put layers of walls between you and those salespeople that come into your office and want to do business with you. But, to lose relationships at the expense of the dollar is usually not a wise thing to do.

The salespeople that come by your office, may actually live in your community and simply want to bring you what they believe is a good “benefit’ or “offering’ to grow your business.  Just like you, they are trying to make a living.  Do you know what that means? It means that they are stakeholders. They can “influence or be affected’ by your organization. What you need to think about is how you can develop relationships with these suppliers without sacrificing time during your income hours.

Your appointment book is scheduled to keep you busy during the day with new patients, re-exams, report of findings and regular visits. These activities are your productive activities …   they pay the bills and keep your practice growing.  This time should not be for any other appointments other than taking care of patients.

On the other hand, salespeople work at least eight hours a day at their productive activity …. selling.  So, as they cover their route, they come into your office without an appointment with hopes of being able to sell you their product or service.  But, you cannot afford to be the recipient of a sales pitch during your productive patient time, so something must be done to curtail this and still develop good relationships.  Instituting the following office policy will help you maintain supplier stakeholder relationships without losing your own productive time.


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Establish a Written Procedure

In your policy manual under a heading such as “Salespeople,’ write something to this effect:

“It is the policy of this office to recognize the presence of all salespeople with the same respect that we give our patients. Salespeople are stakeholders in our practice and it is our responsibility to see that we develop great relationships with them. The following policy will apply to all salespeople, during patient time or lunch time.’

1. Each salesperson will be immediately greeted and recognized just as our patients would be.

2. (Assign one C.A. and insert the name here) ______________ is assigned to briefly meet with the salesperson as soon as she can. If possible, it is best not to have a sit down meeting. Standing in a private area will suffice so that it does not encourage a long conversation.

3. The assigned C.A. will explain to the salesperson: “Mr. Jones, our office policy is to collect any material pertaining to the subject at hand. Dr. Tom will review the material within 48 hours and you will get a call to let you know what he thought of it.  If he´s interested, he may ask to meet with you for a few minutes during lunch.  However, Dr. Tom always likes to initially meet each salesperson if he can. Let me see if I can catch him in between patients. He won´t have time to talk with you about your product at this time, but he will enjoy meeting you. If you would just have a seat here I will see if he can take a minute.’

4. In between patients let the doctor know that someone is here for a quick greeting and handshake. Write the salesperson´s name on a post-it note, what company he represents and what service or product he is selling. The doctor should make a quick appearance to meet and greet.

5. The doctor will review the material at his leisure and give the assigned CA his response. This response may be that he is not interested, he wants to set up an appointment and meet with the person, he might want the CA to take the appointment, or he needs more time to review the material.
So many offices just brush salespeople off and these valuable stakeholders are rightly offended by the disrespect and lack of attention. This simple office policy and procedure should not offend any salesperson that comes to your office. Who knows, the next salesperson through your doors might live down the street from you and could be a great resource for referrals and contacts. Remember, the salespeople that visit you are also visiting all the other businesses in town, including your fellow chiropractors. Whoever treats them right, gets all their referrals and possibly them as a future patient!

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