Many healthcare practice owners dream of having their practice on a steady, sustainable growth pattern month after month and year after year. However, many of them instead experience ups and downs, and slows followed by overload periods. Often, there seems to be no reason for these feasts and famines.
But is that just the way things are, or can something actually be done about it?
Marketing is often the big culprit.
There is a pattern that can develop inadvertently that goes like this: You do some good marketing actions and get an onslaught of new patients. So you try and fit them all in and sometimes add extra hours in order to accommodate everyone.
There is quite a bit of hecticness and delivery going on in the practice as a result, and so the admin side starts to be neglected. One of the things that tends to be sacrificed is the ongoing marketing actions.
Then, because there is no marketing, the practice starts to slow down. After a while, it dawns on you that things are a bit too quiet and that you need to tell people your practice still exists. You then get onto some outflow type actions, but it takes 5 to 6 weeks to take full effect. And then the cycle starts again.
The solution is to have an actual hard and fast written, organized marketing plan that is carried out consistently no matter what. Every practice can work out a plan of marketing actions that, when tested, always result in new patients. Keep those in NO FAIL for consistent growth.
It also helps to have one staff member who has the task of ensuring that marketing occurs no matter what. A bonus system could even be worked out for this person as a reward for keeping the marketing consistently well done.
Some types of healthcare practices experience busy seasons and slow seasons. Some of these are man-made. In other words, they are created instead being out-created.
Veterinarians for small animals often experience a hectic period in May but, with some care and attention to appointment setting, could spread those appointments out over March through June and thus experience a closer to normal workload.
Dentists in Canada often experience a bit of a slow period in the winter months after Christmas due to the Snow Bird patients flying south for warmer climes. Fine, then fill those months with recall appointments for those patients who AREN’T going away.
Of course, this won’t work for everyone … horses and cows are born when they’re born. But maybe you can avoid other regular actions during that time period and fill up the rest of the year with those other actions.
The temperature effect
Need we talk about how the summer months can affect where you and your team have your attention? Holidays, shorter days (“there are no more patients for the rest of the day, so can we close early?”), more “sick” days, etc. In winter, a lethargy can set in too.
The solution is heading it off at the pass by formulating a strategy to accomplish the next level of growth, or training, or production games, and so on. Something to keep everyone’s attention focused on creating and delivering ever higher quality of care to your patients. That is, after all, the purpose of the practice.
Sustainable growth is possible but it takes great management skills!