The Official Dirt Cheap Marketing Checklist

This article is a continuation of The Truth About Referral Marketing. If you haven’t done so yet, we recommend reading the first article to get a better context when reading this one.

The following is a list of other successful actions you can do to promote your practice and get new patients. They are all very inexpensive and easy to do:

Ask for referrals!

Ask for referrals!

Ask for referrals! (ok, point made)

Send patients birthday cards.

Send out a quarterly newsletter that educates patients.

Put up a new patient/client welcome board in the reception room.

Put up a “Thank you for referring us.” board in reception listing out the patients/clients who referred new patients to the practice.

Send thank you letters to every patient/client who referred anyone into the practice.

Reward referring patients/clients by sending them to dinner or the movies, etc.

The doctor and staff hand out business cards anywhere and everywhere that is appropriate. Yes, anywhere and everywhere that is appropriate.

Post your practice “mission statement” in your reception room.

Make post-care calls to patients/clients to ensure that they are doing well. This shows that you really care.

Give tours of the office to school children.

Offer family discounts for cash patients.

Put up educational posters in all treatment rooms or areas to educate patients about the health care you deliver.

Have TV monitors with educational videos that are on a continuous playback loop showing in reception and/or treatment rooms.

Have a patient/client appreciation month.

Participate in health fairs.

Give brisk service with lots of care and affinity.

Have all staff who are on the phone always “smile on the phone.”

Stay in good communication with any patient or client who is waiting – never let them just sit in silence for any long period.

Never make patients/clients wait. Deliver on time.

Call your patients/clients by name.

Develop a logo and place it in every possible place that you can – letterhead, newsletter, business cards, posters, etc.

Call patients/clients 2 weeks and then 2 days prior to recall appointments.

Confirm appointments the day before.

Have simple informational pamphlets. Create your own if you have to.

Make follow-up calls after sending a postcard mailer.

Use oversized or odd-sized business cards. People will notice and remember them more than a normal card.

Take photos of happy patients and clients and place them on the bulletin board.

Have the doctor write a column for a local newspaper or other publication addressing issues within your profession.

Share successful results of patient delivery with your staff.

Once per year, offer 10% off for payment in full off on all old accounts receivables.

Provide a staff reward for generating referrals.

All of the above actions will cost you very little up front, but will generate the highest quality patients for your practice. Put these into place, and you will see your new patients numbers not only increase, but the quality of your patient base will increase.

Questions? Ask the Editor.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this article, please feel free to submit them below. Our editors speak with professional doctors like yourself every day. They would be delighted to hear from you.

Nuts and Bolts of Obtaining Client Retention

This article is a continuation of Achieving Better Retention and Patient Satisfaction. If you haven’t done so yet, we recommend reading the first article to get a better context when reading this one.

This article will discuss some of the general aspects and strategies that will help the clinic achieve better retention and patient satisfaction.

Dealing with Upset Patients

Are there clear strategies, procedures and precise policies in place to deal with patients who are upset or dissatisfied with some aspect of the clinic or the service they received?

Is there a person in the clinic who is trained on these policies and designated to handle upset patients?

Staff that come into direct contact with patients should be trained to recognize bad indicators of patients and deal with them in accordance with clinic policies. This is particularly important to address before the patient leaves.

Is there a private place in the clinic where an upset patient can be consulted?

Are Surveys Being Used?

Perhaps the single most important tool to improve the patient experience is the survey.

This often overlooked but powerful tool, when used properly, can determine the exact course of action to take to directly improve retention and improve other aspects of the practice.

The use of surveys in a practice can also result in creating better promotional response in the acquisition of new patients. Other beneficial information can be derived from the use of surveys.

New and existing patients should be surveyed.

The actual subject of creating surveys and surveying is a rather involved technology. The entire subject of surveys would be impossible to cover in this article.

Ideally, there should be someone in the clinic who has at least a basic working knowledge of technology of surveying.

Manners Matter

There is much more to manners than just being polite. This is very important, but there may be other factors to consider on the subject of clinic manners.

Are patients being communicated to in a way that makes them feel understood and acknowledged?

Be Aware of and Sensitive to Personal Beliefs and Concerns

Treat each patient as the unique individual they are. Every patient likes to be made to feel special and important.

Be sensitive to patients who may have particular customs, beliefs and ideas about medicine and treatment.

Develop a culture in the clinic of compassionate care, patient importance and service orientation.

It would be very wise for a clinic to discover the demographic nature of their patient and client base.

Patient questionnaires and surveys can be used to discover any important information in this regard.

All of these things done should add up to a patient who feels that they are important and appreciated.

Who knows, in addition to good retention maybe the clinic will also get rave reviews to boot!

Questions? Ask the Editor.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this article, please feel free to submit them below. Our editors speak with professional doctors like yourself every day. They would be delighted to hear from you.

From Burned Out to Booming: A Case Study

After being in practice for some years this doctor was seriously considering closing down his practice and pursuing a different profession. His enthusiasm for practicing had reached an all time low and he was feeling burned out. He missed those days earlier in his career when the practice was growing at a good rate and when he looked forward to going to work every day. But he wasn’t sure what would need to happen to revive his interest or the practice.

He was seeing 25-30 new patients per month on an average and producing around $28,000 each month. The practice was neither growing or contracting; it was hovering around these levels for awhile.

Conditions in the practice began to change after he made the decision to hire a management consulting firm. After a very thorough analysis of the practice the consultant noticed a non optimum situation with his personnel. The consultant looked into this further by interviewing and testing the staff members involved. He reached the conclusion that the doctor had failed to place some of his staff in the positions they were best suited for. A shift in positions took place and dramatic changes began to occur almost immediately. Not only were the staff members happier, but this change translated into an increase in new patients and collections right away.

The consultant then began to work with the doctor to train all his staff in management techniques that they needed in order to perform their jobs well. The first step he took was to ensure the office manager received thorough executive training. She was then able to take over the day to day management duties in the practice, leaving the doctor free to concentrate on treating patients.

The OM made sure all the other staff were trained for their positions and implemented all the office policies and job descriptions provided by the consultant.

It was at this point that the doctor and his staff were able to competently handle all aspects of the practice.

They implemented collections and finance policies which increased the cash flow. Financial planning procedures were implemented that put the practice in a condition of strong viability. This, alone, relieved the doctor of a great deal of stress.

The consultant developed marketing plan for the practice and worked with the staff to implement them. The number of new patients grew.

A sharp eye was kept on efficiency. With more new patients coming in and the cash flow increasing, it was vital that the practice remain solvent and financially secure. The consultant monitored all the activity and helped the doctor make key decisions about hiring, staff bonuses, major purchases and work loads.

The results:

The practice now stably produces over $100,000 per month. In other words, it produces in one week what it used to produce in one month. They average seeing 100 new patients per month. The doctor works less hours than he did previously and his morale, along with the staff’s, has risen tremendously. The practice has moved to a larger facility and other doctors frequently visit the practice to find out how he did it. It has become a model practice, with each staff member fully trained for the position they hold.

In the doctor’s own words, “Management training is the key to my success. I did not learn in school what I needed to know to establish a practice that was capable of flourishing year after year after year. I learned everything I needed to know technically and was very capable of delivering high quality of care to my patients but that only covered one aspect of owning a practice. I learned the hard way that technical training alone is not enough to sustain a successful business over the long haul. Thanks to the capable professionals of my consulting firm, I am a success, my staff is a success and my patients are receiving the best care and service available.” Dr. T.N.