Building Your Practice through Stakeholder Relationships, Part IV

Thomas E. Cavanaugh, DC, MBA

Developing the Community Stakeholder Relationship

As defined in Part 1 of this series of newsletters, “stakeholders’ are 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, the insurance industry, Chamber of Commerce, local charitable clubs and any other organizations pertinent to your business.  In Parts II and III, we established the importance of “Patient’ and “Supplier’ stakeholder relationships.  In this issue, I will address the “Community’ stakeholder relationship.

Over the last couple of decades, both small and large corporations have learned to become influential players in community affairs.  Attend the meetings of your local city council, the Chamber of Commerce, or the economic development group, and you are sure to meet representatives from several of these companies. These same companies will also have representatives in local clubs such as the Rotary International, the Kiwanis, the Toastmasters International, the Shriners and the Knights of Columbus. Companies do this to stay in tune with what the community wants or needs from local businesses. These companies understand that their participation and interest in the “mind’ of the community will help them make the corporate decisions that will develop better community stakeholder relationships.

As a chiropractor, how can you involve yourself in giving back to your community and developing strong community relationships?  Your local Chamber of Commerce is an excellent choice.  They are always crying out for help from talented individuals and they have many different departments or committees in which you can participate and rotate through as a member.  This is a great place to shake hands, hand out cards and network with the other business people in your community. This is where you can find “pure luck,’ meaning “when preparation meets opportunity’ …  you never know when you will run into some good personal injury attorneys, claims adjusters, managers of corporate health and safety departments, or others who could use your services. Becoming an active member in your local Chamber of Commerce will undoubtedly give you the “pulse’ on what is happening within your community and what you can do to serve.  Toss out some service and it will come right back to you … give more, get more!

Philanthropic activities by corporations in local community causes have also increased over the years.  What kind of charitable contributions do you make in your community?  High schools eagerly accept even the smallest dollar amount for scholarships. Sports teams need sponsors. Schools need help with defraying the cost of travel for their band. The local Boy Scouts have out-of-state outings and need donations. Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America need people to donate time to help less fortunate boys and girls.  Soup kitchens can use donated cans of food, clothing and holiday donations.
 Let me share with you one of the many community programs I used while in practice.   I awarded yearly scholarships of $1,000, $500 and $250 each to the local high school. If you ever go to an end-of-year school assembly where they announce scholarship winners, it is quite exciting. Most scholarships are given to students with the highest grades and most activities. Indeed, they are deserving of rewards, but so are others.


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I asked for a committee to be formed with school counselors and the principal. My scholarships were rewarded to students who had started the school year off on the wrong foot but later “saw the light,’ or, who had “overcome’ challenges. They weren´t “straight A’ students, but they were some of the “highest achievers’ in that they had made positive changes in their lives.  They progressed. They became better individuals. Imagine the applause that those young kids received when their names were announced at the end-of-year assembly. Those kids were so proud of themselves.  It was probably the first public recognition for achievement that they ever received. (I am holding back tears as I recall my memories of their parents writing me many words of appreciation and telling me how those awards affected their son´s or daughter´s life.)  Nothing I could ever have received in return would measure up to the way I felt as I read each letter or remembered each student as they accepted their scholarship.

I can´t resist sharing one more story. I practiced in a California town you may have heard of and that was made famous by Johnny Cash´s song, Folsom Prison. Yes, the town is called Folsom.  A group of peace officers from the prison came to me and asked if I would support their first big fund raiser.  I decided to be their main sponsor. It cost me $15,000. It was definitely a big chunk but it proved to be one of my most valuable community stakeholder relationship builders.

The activity was a three ring boxing and karate show for the community in the Folsom rodeo stadium. We had World Champion and Olympic boxers and karate experts. All of the newspapers, radio, printed material, mugs, handouts and talk were about Cavanaugh Chiropractic. When people walked in they even had square “butt cushions’ to sit on that said “Cavanaugh Chiropractic.’ The three boxing rings were surrounded by custom made signs, each imprinted with my clinic´s name. Thousands of people came out to the show and I was in the ring several times awarding trophies, plaques and answering questions.

 Some of you may think that a prison fund raiser would do more harm than good for a chiropractic practice.  Well, let me put it like this. I filled my office up with work injuries of the guards from the prison. And, many other family members, workers and community members came in for care.  In fact, how many guys could walk in one of the baddest prisons and visit prisoners three times a week and bring in pizza and donuts? None that I knew of…except me!

I am on a roll. I have to tell just one more story. Folsom is known for its yearly rodeos. I volunteered to be the Folsom rodeo doctor and was for a number years. I´d park my portable table under a tent where all the cowboys and cowgirls were with their horses. Of course I was also with the paramedics and the police. Every time someone fell off their horse or bull, the ring announcer would always say. “Oh man, let´s get that guy back to my good friend Dr. Cavanaugh for some treatment.’ This rodeo ran for four nights and the stadium was filled with thousands of local people every night. Even Ted Koppel, 37 year veteran of ABC news and anchor man of Nightline News, highlighted the rodeo for a few minutes before and after his 4th of July program on what was happening in America.

Look around … you will find many opportunities for you to build and develop great community stakeholder relationships.  Even if you choose to simply be charitable, it will still come back to you many fold. This is the law of success that is also called the “law of the harvest.’ This type of work is the social responsibility of all good businesses and practices; to return the good that comes to them from the community.

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