Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vicious Cycles

My Chiropractic clinic, like life in general, experiences highs and lows.  I have busier days and weeks, and less busy periods.  I like when I hop from patient to patient, it keeps my energy up in the stratosphere, I feel like I provide a constructive service to society, and bonus, I make money for me and my child.

Over the Jewish holidays, de facto I took off for two weeks, because Raphaela did not have Gan and it was virtually impossible to find a baby sitter from my extensive list.  As a result, two weeks after the fact my office visit numbers have slowed down dramatically, because no doctor who runs their own business can expect a consequence-free two week vacation.

I do not get financial assistance from my family, and during a "normal" month, that is not an issue.  In a month where I must spend lots of unexpected money on my car, among other surprises, it makes a huge difference to finances, and my sanity.  I get depressed and worried when I look at my Palm Pilot and see that there are days with huge gaps.  There is that higher voice, the one that communicates well with the Universe that knows that it will pick up again, and the uncertainty of this period of time will pass.  I also know that if I broadcast my concerns - both to the Universe and to my daughter - I will get back what I send out, and G-d knows I don't want it to get worse.

It doesn't stop me from having a hard time falling asleep at night, and I have certainly been praying more than usual.

Today a woman came to me for an emergency appointment, a friend of my cousins and a person who usually sees another Chiropractor, who was not available to her.  After she received a thorough and extra-long treatment, she then explained to me that her regular DC charges her a minimal amount, out of 'charity'; but since she felt so much better, she was willing to pay me 1/4 of my fee.  I am not sure what feels more lousy, working less overall or not being valued  and respected for the time and devotion I give to my clients.

Meanwhile, there is still food to buy and bills to pay.


Midlife Singlemum said...

What can you do when someone refuses to pay your fee in full? Her behaviour was unacceptable. Seriously, what could you have done?

Nicole said...

Perhaps you could have told her how much you charge, but that "out of charity" you are willing for her to split it into 2 payments?
And in future, when you take appointments from new clients, you need to tell them on the phone ahead of time how much you charge for a treatment.

Commenter Abbi said...

Nicole is right. Take this as a lesson to be a little more assertive with new patients and make it clear what you charge. Her behavior was just unacceptable.

Doc said...

I value my work and generally am very clear about what I charge, as I was in this case as well. I think this woman believed that her connection to my cousins and her hard-luck story would excuse terrible behaviour.

Whether or not I am a single parent, I have years of education and experience, and deserve to get paid.

What bothers me is that this other Chiropractor has given her permission on some level to walk into any professional's office and bargain them down. His office policy should not dictate mine, or anyone else's.

The more I think about this, the angrier I get, and I don't like being in that place.

Sarah said...

This other Chiropractor probably did NOT give her permission to pay less to you. The patient probably TOOK it as permission.

Since you say that you were clear before she came to see you (at least, from what I understand) about your prices, it is perfectly fair to say "I'm so happy that you feel so much better. As I mentioned on the phone, the price per treatment is XYZ. If Dr. So-and-So charges you less, that is between you and him. If you can't pay XYZ right now, I would be willing to accept the payments in installments, whatever amount per month is comfortable for you."

The worst thing that can happen, in terms of emotional/family fallout, is that your cousins get upset. My response to them would be something like "I do give a 10 percent discount to family and friends -- MY friends. Not friends-of-family" and repeat that you were clear with their friend on the phone about how much it would cost.

Don't put any time or thought into the other chiropractor, unless he/she initiates contact with you over this situation. Most likely he does not know his patient is trying to wheedle discounts from other practitioners, using him as an excuse of some kind.

My final suggestion is to pick a date and put on the calendar a note to yourself that if the patient hasn't paid in full by that date, you will internally let the anger go. Not that she doesn't still owe it, but that you will no longer invest emotional energy into wanting it.

I wish there was a magical formula for all this. B'hatzlacha . . .