There you are … in a great location … the best of equipment … the coolest staff … and treatment skills that can produce miracles. Yet you are not fully booked or perhaps you have an associate that is not fully booked. Or, you have more space in the practice and hours that could be filled up with an associate or other providers if there were enough patients to keep them busy. The point is: How do you fill the practice up to full capacity?
I know you know the answer but I’ll say it anyway just in case you didn’t get the memo: M A R K E T I N G.
It never stops!
There will always be attrition or shrinkage of your existing patient base in every practice as folks move on and pass on, and so you always have to have a steady flow of new patients even in a super well-booked office.
However, if you want to grow, this means new patients are needed and there are millions of marketing ideas … some good and lots bad. Also, your College has restrictions for you as a healthcare professional as to what you can say or do in the marketing arena.
Here are some basics to consider about the subject of marketing:
DON’T BE INVISIBLE:
If you don’t market, you won’t get new patients. No signage, no advertising, nothing to tell people you are there and open for business means people can’t find you. So obviously, you need to do things to attract attention to you and your practice. Nowadays, signage and window coverings are available that practically SHOUT that you are THERE and available.
TALK IT UP:
Just for the record, even “word of mouth” is marketing. You delivered awesome service and the person is thankful and tells others who become patients, and so on. As a minimum marketing action you can always work to generate more of this word of mouth. For example, at the end of their appointment, the receptionist or anyone else in the practice can simply say to them, “Here are two of our business cards … one for you for your wallet or purse and one for a friend, neighbour, coworker or family member.” It can be done just that simply. There are tons of other ways. Bottom line, while you need to be sure your quality of service is top notch, this does not mean the person is going to think of referring someone to your practice unless you put that thought in their head.
PLAY IT AGAIN SAM:
If you have done a mailing or other marketing action that drove in business, DON’T CHANGE IT and DON’T DROP IT OUT. As long it is working, keep doing it. This is one of the most obvious things BUT it is also the one most violated.
MULTI TASK MARKETING:
Don’t pin all your hopes and needs on one avenue of marketing only. There are many free ways such as a monthly emailed newsletter with short, interesting pieces of information (not dissertations). Having a website and Facebook page is also very cheap (once the website is made) and you need to keep these up to date and fresh looking and as interactive as possible. But, don’t neglect the tradition methods of marketing that were around long before the internet and still work like crazy.
TO SUM IT UP:
To flourish and prosper, never neglect the importance of marketing.