Is Your Business Back-End Bigger Than Your Front-End?

Don’t let the question mislead you. In business terms, the front end of the business is what draws patients (customers) into their first encounter with us.

In most of our practices, that usually means a patient crisis of varying degrees. Not uncommonly, pain-for which the patient is seeking a rapid solution to a problem.

Fortunately, most of us are really effective at crisis care. But the simple economics of most private health care practices dictate that in today’s world, we have way more to offer our patients. But here’s the kicker: businesses with longevity are very good at building back-end sales. Most private practice owners, however, miss the mark.

But here’s what you can do almost immediately. Ask your patients for feedback on a regular basis. I suggest you ask every patient to fill out a “Tell Us How We Are Doing” form at each re-exam. This simple step is often neglected.

Next, brainstorm with your staff. What are patients telling them? What makes them happy or dissatisfied? Often, patients will tell staff things they’ll never say to our faces. Have they asked for other services, or perhaps support products like comfort items (braces, supports, pillows, et cetera)?

Here is the real reason for this discussion today. Despite the nastiest economic meltdown in most of our lifetimes, people-YOUR patients-still buy what they want.

If you doubt me, look at the most recent Black Friday sales figures. Better yet, go to any place people gather on weekends, like a great restaurant.

I told a story several years ago about patients in local practices balking at $15 co-pays, but spending hundreds at the spa (on health and cosmetic desires) right down the street from their office!

Why does this happen? Because most private practice owners don’t treat their businesses like well-run corporations with strong customer service, then developing the product and service lines to meet their patients desires.

So what might be some great back-ends to your practice? In addition to the things we mentioned above, weight loss products, support, and coaching, personal and fitness training, and cosmetology and cosmetic care.

And more: wellness care (which should be built into every initial case presentation!), massage therapy services, healthy cooking and meal preparation, yoga and meditation, addiction recovery, and so on.

Just remember, the time to be thinking, planning, and brainstorming about the future of your practice and livelihood is when practice is going really well.

Web Based Sales Training Can Get Your Business Back on Track

Two forces are working together right now to cause a perfect storm for small businesses. 1 – Small businesses have a cloudy view of their market. 2 – Small businesses don’t realize that they have this cloudy or distorted view of their market.

You could argue that there are more than just two forces creating this perfect storm. We are in the mist of a gripping recession. Layoffs are still occurring; unemployment is hovering nationally around 10%. Fuel prices are still high and groceries are not getting any cheaper. Customers have gone out of business.

On top of all that you have a political climate that has lead to a stalemate. Even the small business champion – The Chamber of Commerce has been shut out of the legislative process.

However given all of the above small business people are still out there working everyday and they are as optimistic as ever. I try to meet as many small business people as possible at least 4 times a month through my own networking efforts.

I love hearing their stories. How they are overcoming the obstacle and pressing their businesses forward.

In my own 25+ years of being in and around businesses of all sizes I have noticed that a lot of times businesses bring on their own problems and have their own perception of their market.

That perception of their market may or may not be correct. It is this perception that gives us the cloudy or distorted view of the market.

What we have all probably noticed is that people in general get shaped by all of the outside influences that surround them. Recessions happen, unemployment goes up and down, prices rise and a thousand other factors tend to cloud a persons view.

They get themselves and their businesses boxed in by this view. Once they are in the box it is hard for them to let in the fresh air so the business can advance.

This is not just a small business phenomenon. Big businesses have the same issue. They can get boxed in with a cloudy view of their market.

There is a way to break out of the box.

You need positive outside influences to get your business back on track. You need someone with some business acumen to help you clearly see your market.

In any town there are people who have the business acumen to help get your business back on track. Typically they have “consultant” or “trainer” printed on their business cards. These people can help you redefine your market and to help you seek out new customers.

In my own work as a sales trainer in the Atlanta area I regularly conduct custom training classes or new hire sales training classes to help businesses succeed.

One method of consulting and sales training that is currently catching on is e-learning. These web based sales training classes are economical, topical and are broken up into smaller segments that take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

Being affordable is obviously a big draw to companies that know they need to break out of the box. Our web based sales training is also LIVE. It always been my feeling that there needs to be an interaction between all of the participants. Being live and being lively helps stimulate the conversations that allow all the participants the ability to see their true market.

The point of the training and/or hiring a business consultant is to bring in new ideas into a firm which will help it get it out of the box. The added benefits are when a sales training is completed the sales representative are ready to go and hit the ground running.

If you can get your salespeople to hit the ground running, and running in the right direction then you will ride not only ride out this storm but you will come through even stronger than when you began the ride.

Web based sales training is just one way to seek out new ideas which will get your business back on track. Talk to your local business consultant if you find yourself in a perfect storm.

How the US Government Is Holding Small Business Back and Affecting Communities

The US economy has been extremely destructive to the small businesses across the United States. Small businesses employ more people than any other sector of our economy. The government has given loans and help to large companies, without holding them to the same standards that most small business are held to.

Specifically for some of our clients, who have been hard hit. These clients are located in Klamath County Oregon, an area of the country with higher than national average unemployment and economic loss. These companies have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2008 and now. During this time, our company and the owners were not paid and in fact invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep the businesses viable and continue to employ almost 100 hundred people.

To make it through this time, our clients found themselves unable to pay the employee withholding taxes in full. However, these companies always filed and communicated their position to the Internal Revenue Service each quarter. Each company had a payment history that showed progress through these tough times and how they prioritized their finances. The companies only paid wages and business critical expenses to keep the doors open which allowed them to continue to employ people, they paid all their obligations, albeit late.

We tried for over a year to get a formal payment agreement with the IRS for our clients, however the attitude of I.R.S. employees was one of disgust and uncaring for our clients or the employees. It took the IRS almost a year to get an agreement in place, and only after hiring a professional tax company to represent the firms, did the IRS allow a payment plan to be approved. Further, despite providing case law, IRS regulations and policy and backup information that showed these clients did not with malice or ill intent, not pay their taxes; the IRS has refused to abate penalties, with the final reason given in writing as; “A lack of funds does not amount to reasonable cause for failure to pay taxes”.

It is this inconsistency with regard to the law, IRS’s own rules and government policy that is currently holding many small businesses back. These companies are now in a position to not only get a loan to pay the tax and interest due the US Government, but also get one to make specific capital improvements and increase their business and employ more people. However, they cannot get the loan to do this without an abatement of the penalties.

It is disheartening to small business owners when they see our government give money to big companies and threaten to violate the same “Trust Fund Rules” by saying Social Security will go unpaid. Why would a government have a policy to ignore and punish those who are willing to fairly compensate the government through interest payments and investment in future business?

Our advice to clients is to refrain from growth without certain funding for all aspects of an expansion or new venture. The US Government has declared Small Business a target, with no apparent understanding of the way small business operates or affects the overall economic viability of our communities.