Most of us have had mentors along the way, and sometimes from an unexpected source. There is definitely an element of readiness necessary in order to receive new ways of behaving and of thinking, and this cannot be rushed. Many times the mentor will pop up out of nowhere, and many times you will be surprised by his presence. The trick is to be aware of this phenomenon and to use the wisdom and insight you can gain.
The Corporate World
One of my early mentors had absolutely nothing to do with chiropractic. I was early in my professional life, where I was seeing the reality of all the things I didn’t know, but had to know in order to be successful. My wife was working for Pitney Bowes, a Fortune 50 company at the time, and she was the first female to be hired into their specialty division. Specialty division because they did not sell the hand-held, single recording device. It was for large-scale recording at institutions like police departments, prisons, etc. Nice work if you can get it!
This was an old-boys club and had been for years, but not to Mr. Mike Fahey, my wife’s boss and one of my early mentors. He was a master recruiter and enroller, and did not care about anything other than performance. He was soon rewarded when she became one of the top producers in the company, but that’s a different story. Here are some ideas he shared with me.
Take Necessary Risks
There is no such thing as a risk free environment. You simply have to take calculated risks in order to grow the overall volume, the market share or the bottom line. The reason for this is that your environment changes (different speeds), and your competitors want what you have. Necessary risks can take the form of a modified or increased product and services line, different access hours, different pricing models, etc. Some key factors:
- Is it reversible? If the new pathway does not work, can you terminate it? How difficult or expensive is it to pull the plug? How disruptive?
- Can it be done on a trial or limited scope basis? Some changes of direction can be done on a small scope, for a defined period of time. These risks are the easiest to manage and have the least capacity to damage your overall operation if something goes awry.
- Do you have the resources you need to take a risk? The resources are varied: time, money, expertise, advisers, market research, etc.
You’re not going to bat 1000.
No matter how talented you are, no matter how fantastic your products or services may be, not every potential customer will go your way. This is blindingly obvious, but is still a stumbling block for many doctors. There are lots of intangible pieces in a decision to obtain health care services from any doctor, and you simply will not be a good fit for every person in your drawing area. When that happens, keep the door open in case they have a change of heart, and move on to something else.
Think ahead and keep something in the hopper
What sort of markets can you tap into where you currently have limited or no presence? How can you bring your products and services to people who know nothing about what you do? How can you make a compelling case for them? (We used to call this a no-brainer, but that seems vaguely politically incorrect these days!)
Dress and act the part
This was probably the most powerful of all the messages. Mr. Fahey was always dressed professionally, was always on time, was always organized and was always prepared. This was pre-cell, computer, etc., so it was all done on paper and contained in the briefcase that never left his side. He mastered the art of being friendly yet strictly business, giving his customers a consistent and solid image; they always knew what to expect and that he would take care of them.