Osteopath David Birley knows how tough it is to run a clinic. Twice, he grew his business from nothing, and we’ve got his story here for you. Check out our conversation with David and learn all you can from his powerful tale.
People love Dr Ben Tucker—or just 'Dr Ben' as he's affectionately called by clients—and they certainly aren't afraid to tell the world how they feel. His clinic, Riverside Chiropractic, has hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of 5-star reviews online, and after just a few minutes of reading through them, I started to notice a trend: Dr Ben’s patients love the way he communicates.
Based on the reviews alone, Dr Ben is clearly doing something right (probably a lot of things), and I was excited for the chance to talk with him to find out the secrets to his success and how good communication has helped his reputation grow.
I was thrilled to discover—as I hope you are—his methods are beautifully simple. You're likely already doing some of the same things in your own practice, but with any luck, you just might discover a new idea or two you haven't thought of yet. Before we get into that, though, let’s create a little context by shining some light on the man behind all those stars.
A little background on Dr Ben
When he was a kid, Ben’s parents received such great results from their chiropractor they decided to take him for a checkup too. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Ben loved everything about his first session, and that day was the beginning of his lifelong fascination with the human body and helping people heal. Call it fate or destiny—or just a really good adjustment—he was hooked from day one.
He continued to receive regular treatments throughout high school (no doubt prodding his doctor for information during appointments) as his interest and natural aptitude for science began to blossom. By the time he graduated, Ben knew exactly what he wanted to do for his career and the initial steps he would take to make his dreams come true.
He went on to earn his undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from Western University before receiving his Doctor of Chiropractic from Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 2014. Never one to settle, Ben even went a step further to complete a 300-hour postgraduate course in medical acupuncture.
Building a practice
After completing his education, Ben was faced with an all-to-familiar dilemma for many new practitioners: should he join an existing clinic as an associate, or go off on his own to open a new practice?
There are pros and cons for either path of course, but in the end, Ben decided he wanted to roll up his sleeves and build his own practice from the ground up even though he knew it would likely take a while for his business to grow.
To get started, he went back to where it all began by renting a room in his old chiropractor's clinic and running his entire business by himself.
It wasn’t easy at first, but luckily, Ben has no shortage of entrepreneurial spirit. He hit the pavement and handed out flyers to people in nearby neighbourhoods and businesses to let them know that he was open and ready to help.
After months of hard work—building a website from scratch, reading business resources, giving talks and free info sessions, networking, and earning new-patient referrals—business was finally starting to pick up.
Actually, at this point, Ben was flat out busy, and running the ‘behind the scenes’ of his practice with a pen and paper just wasn’t cutting it anymore. It was cumbersome and took too much time.
He began shopping for a practice management software that could shoulder the bulk of his administrative efforts and decided on Clinko after seeing a friend's recommendation on the testimonial page. Ben says, 'The online bookings and automated messaging made all the difference in the early days. That's what freed up my time and allowed me to focus on caring for my patients.'
He also enjoys the ability to colour code his Cliniko calendar according to the appointment types and view his entire week’s schedule at once. 'It lets me plan for the week ahead and easily see where I could fit in another new patient, a re-examination, or an acupuncture treatment—or adjustment on the fly. It also helps me tell my wife exactly when I’ll be home for dinner (or when I was supposed to be, anyway).’
The practice continued to grow, and when his mentor retired a few years later, Ben was able to purchase the practice from him. This fortuitous ‘passing of the torch’ gave Ben the space and equipment he needed to scale his business without moving to a new location.
Growth through communication
At its root, Ben's entire philosophy of care boils down to one thing: communication. He is always honest, direct, and very thorough with his clients—a firm believer that educating people on their health and treatment options empowers them to take control of their own healing and increases their likelihood for a complete and long-lasting recovery.
Between treatments, Ben often asks clients to continue their care by doing some simple yet specific home exercises, but he began noticing that many people would forget what they were supposed to do. They'd either do the exercises wrong or just not do anything at all, and inevitably, Ben would wind up repeating the same instructions week to week and struggling to keep their progress from stalling.
So, to help his patients stay on track, Ben filmed recordings of himself performing different exercises and posted them as private videos on YouTube. Now, clients receive a follow-up email after each appointment that includes the links for various exercises they need to do. When they’re at home, patients can watch these videos as many times as they want to make sure they're doing things right.
It's proven to be an effective way to keep the momentum moving forward in patients’ treatment, and since the videos are only viewable for clients, it's become a valued addition to Ben's service offering.
When it comes to communicating with patients outside of the clinic, Ben sticks with good old fashioned email. He likes the versatility it offers and says Cliniko's automated message templates proved especially useful during the coronavirus pandemic.
After closing his clinic as a precaution to help slow the spread of the virus, Ben sent out a custom bulk message to let his patients know about the closing.
But here's the clever bit. Rather than deleting appointments from his diary because the clinic was closed, he kept everything on the schedule. Then, he altered the wording in the template for his reminder emails that were already slated to be sent. So, instead of people receiving an email reminding them about an upcoming appointment, they got a message asking them not to come to the clinic.
When we spoke, Ben mentioned a colleague who doesn't use Cliniko (gasp!) and without the templates and automated messages, his friend was forced to call each client one-by-one to remind them the clinic was closed. It took up a lot of his time each day, and Ben is grateful that he was able to be with his family instead.
How does he get so many 5-star reviews?
The answer couldn't be more simple: he just asks for them.
At the end of each appointment, Ben always checks in with his clients to see how they feel about their treatment and their overall experience with his clinic. If they’re happy with everything, he politely asks them to leave a review online.
And guess what? They do!
Reviews were a bit sporadic in the beginning, but they picked up soon enough. And years later, the stars are still pouring in for Dr Ben.
Important note: Some countries have regulations regarding the collection and use of client reviews for healthcare practitioners. Be sure to check with your association or governing body before asking for testimonials or using them in your marketing.
Of course, Ben's abilities as a chiropractor—and a communicator—play a major role here, and it helps that his clients have plenty of nice things to say about him. But the simple step of asking for reviews has made all the difference in how his practice is perceived online.
Here's the most important part: no matter how many reviews roll in, Ben always makes sure to respond to each one individually to show his gratitude for their kind words. He does it because he's a nice guy, but it's also a crucial step that shows the world—and potential new clients—that he has genuine concern for his patients and how they feel about the care he gives.
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Karen Finnin is a self-proclaimed accidental entrepreneur, but also a pioneer of the online healthcare movement. We talked to Karen to find out how she went from rural physiotherapist to telehealth pioneer.