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The First Step to a Successful Marketing Campaign: Research

To craft a successful marketing campaign for your practice, you must first conduct some basic research that will start to identify what your marketing plan and promotional pieces will look like and the message they should deliver. The first step in your research is to work out the general mindset and styles that dominate your particular geographic area. Every state, city, town or area has its own mindset and styles that are unique to that place. If you have lived in the area where you practice, chances are you know them well. Additionally, it is smart to check with others from the area to ensure that your opinion agrees with the general consensus. If you are new to the area, ask locals, as they generally have a good idea.

Some examples are provided below to give you an idea of what one might list as the mindset and styles for his/her area.

Example #1:

Mindset: “Slow and steady pace”, “Friendly”, “Easy going”

Style: Earthy. Lots of greens and whites used in colors.

Old fashioned.

Example #2:

Mindset: “Efficient and Professional”, “Friendly”, “Straight to the point”

Style: Modern and Edgy. Lots of blues used in colors.

High-tech.

Next, identify the top three practices in your area and find out how they market themselves. Doing this will enable you to see which marketing approaches have been successful for your area. Looking at your three competitors’ websites is a good start, as well as looking in the Yellow Pages, local newspapers, Valpak/ADVO, etc., to see how they are marketing. Look for which words they are using to sell their services to people, which offers they are advancing and what their designs look like.

The next step is to identify the successful campaigns or promotional pieces you have created and used thus far. You need to look for any promotional pieces, slogans, brochures, ads, internal marketing campaigns, discounts and word-of-mouth success that resulted in notable increases in delivery. Again, pay attention to the words that were used, the offers that were put forward and the visual impact of the design. It is also good to consider the general demographics of your area. A good website that provides this information for free is: http://www.city-data.com. Gathering this data should enable you to get a good idea of both what worked for you and what works for other similar professionals in your area. It also provides you with a general impression of what people in your area like and will respond to.

This basic homework will provide you with a foundation of information that can be used as you work out new marketing campaigns, whether internal or external.

Fill out the form on this page to read the rest of this article and find out the second step in crafting a successful marketing campaign. (highly recommended). Click to scroll to the top of the page.

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Your Responsibility to Your Staff

Just as your staff has responsibilities to you and your practice, you likewise have several responsibilities to your practice and staff.

The complexity of active leadership can be best understood by breaking it down into its essential and integral parts:

1. Communication: It is vital for the owner of a practice to maintain excellent communication with his/her staff and to provide active and visible leadership. The following are key elements involving communication that you, as an executive, should implement:

a. Communication of Goals.
Determine the purpose of your practice (most often presented in the form of a mission statement) and communicate that to your staff. Impart the goals of the practice to the staff and keep them informed of the projects that you intend to implement to achieve those goals. The better informed your staff is and the greater understanding they have of such matters, the more likely they will be working in tandem with you.
b. Communication Tools.
There are some fundamental communication tools to implement in the practice; see to it that your staff uses them. These tools can be established and maintained by your office manager; but, as the senior executive and leader of the practice, you must reinforce them. Examples of those tools are: written requests or proposals, written office communications, written office policies and the use of an effective communication relay system.
c. Responding to Communication.
It is vital that you and your staff respond swiftly to written communication. When people do not receive a reply to their memos or emails within an appropriate and reasonable period of time, thereafter they become less willing to communicate. As a result, the business can have more problems on its hands. (Keep that in mind when reading the second part of this article.

2. Staff Meetings: It is also vital that you ensure that the practice holds staff meetings once per week. This is one of the most valuable opportunities available to you for educating staff, setting goals and targets, and handling problem areas that should be addressed by the staff as a whole. The communication lines within the business will strengthen considerably too.

You, as the owner and leader, in addition to your office manager, should continually strive to establish strong coordination and leadership for your staff. Any problems or disagreements between the owner and office manager should always be sorted out OUTSIDE of the staff meeting and should never be addressed in the presence of any staff.

Staff meetings run most effectively if the owner and office manager meet prior to the staff meeting to plan and coordinate those matters to be addressed with the staff.

Fill out the form on this page to read the rest of this article and find out why writing and implementing Policy in your practice, as well as setting Goals and Targets successfully, is so vital to achieving expansion. (highly recommended). Click to scroll to the top of the page.

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Looking Toward the Future: How to Make Your Practice Salable

If you are a practice owner, you should know that, in most cases, getting in is easier than getting out. That is, exiting a practice is often more difficult than building it. Exiting is a process, not an event, that should be planned far in advance of the day you turn the keys over to someone else.

The factors that make your practice salable include a good management team, steady profits, patient/client loyalty, a solid reputation, predictable transferability and much more.

With these factors in mind, let’s look closely at ten vital actions that you should take NOW, so that when the time arrives, you will have developed a truly marketable and valuable practice.

  1. MAINTAIN STRONG REFERRAL SOURCES

Professional relationships add tremendous value to a practice. Do professionals in your community routinely refer their patients/clients to you? If so, are those relationships so strong that you can bridge them over to a new owner?

For example, if you have several professionals who reliably refer a significant number of patients/clients to you, you would want to ensure that those referral sources will continue to send patients/clients to the new owner. Otherwise, your prospective buyer might want to factor in a sale price reduction that takes into account the loss of the projected income represented by those referral sources.

Most professionals will continue to refer to the practice after your departure, as long as they are assured that the clients/patients they refer will receive the same good care that you currently provide them. It is also important for your referral sources to know that the new owner will reciprocate with referrals to them (if that is the type of relationship you currently have).

Maintaining your referral relationships and then transferring them to a new owner during transition will help your patients/clients too. By doing so, you maintain both continuity and quality of care for them, and that fosters tremendous goodwill.

  1. MAINTAIN FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT

Generally speaking, people are inclined to pay more for something if it looks attractive. The same principle applies when buying a practice. If your facilities are pleasing to the eye, you might be able to command a higher price. While a clean carpet is only just that, it might demonstrate to the buyer that every aspect of your facility and practice is probably well maintained.

Well-maintained, state-of-the-art equipment also speaks well of you. It says that you have a growing practice that is keeping in step with technology.

  1. INCREASE YOUR GROSS SALES

The best indicator of the value of a practice is its cash flow. Your successor will want assurance that he is acquiring a reliable income stream. Now is the time to concentrate on reactivation of old patients/clients, increasing your marketing budget to attract new patients/clients, setting goals for the staff and moving the practice toward maximum productivity.

  1. IMPROVE YOUR BOOKKEEPING RECORDS

Part of selling a practice requires that you develop and present an accurate picture of what you have accomplished. In order to command the best possible price, you must be able to prove that the practice is highly profitable.

Plan to have at least five years’ worth of strong financials as the buyer wants predictability. Have an accountant prepare “compiled statements.” That lends credibility. The practice buyer will want well-maintained, accurate accounting records to help with future planning. Additionally, thorough records can even help you explain a slump period.

  1. DECREASE OVERHEAD EXPENSES

Analyze your payroll, department by department, function by function, employee by employee. If personnel are underutilized, eliminate a job position and reassign its duties to other employees.

Improve your bookkeeping procedures so that you can readily and accurately track your expenses and potentially cut them. Eliminate nonessential monthly expenses, taking care not to hinder expansion activities. Keep a close eye on your discretionary expenditures, such as advertising, travel, new equipment, seminars, utilities, telephone, etc. By decreasing the overhead of the practice, you will consequently improve cash flow and thus be likely to sell your practice for a higher price. You gain a tremendous amount of control by just knowing where your money is coming from and where it is going.

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Strengthen Your Appointment Control

Minimize Cancellations

Cancellations and missed appointments are one of the biggest frustrations in any practice and result in lowered production and lost revenue. Cancellations and missed appointments are typically symptoms of other underlying problems. This may be a nonverbal way that the person is telling you that he or she is not satisfied with the service received.

Shown below are some suggestions to help reduce no-shows, cancellations and reschedules. The first key to controlling appointment compliance and smooth patient or client flow is for the receptionist to fully understand that the appointment book has been placed in their hands, and they are fully responsible for its handling. The following points will help the receptionist perform their duties in this regard:

  • Ensure that you are fully aware of what the appointment policies of the practice are, and see to it that you are trained to apply those procedures.
  • Utilize your “General Policy” statement to educate patients or clients on the necessity of keeping their appointments.
  • You must have the honest and genuine attitude that you really care about this person, and you know why it is important for them to set and keep their appointment for their recommended care. You must be committed to good health and good service for the patient or client, and know that the appointment for the recommended treatment is necessary. Fully communicate this attitude with the person that you are talking to, especially when setting appointments.
  • Always call any patient or client immediately if they do not arrive within 15 minutes of the scheduled appointment. Find out from the person if something is wrong that caused him or her to miss the appointment. Convey a caring “time is valuable” attitude to the person, and let them know that you want to work with them to ensure that they can make it in.
  • When a patient or client calls to cancel, investigate diplomatically to discover the real reason why they are canceling. Many times you’ll find it is a financial consideration, or a lack of understanding about why they need the recommended care.
  • Really listen to what they are saying to you. In this way you will be able to work with the person to help resolve the real underlying problem. Never assume you know what the problem is. Work with your patients or clients to remove the barriers that are preventing them from adhering to the scheduled appointments. When you have found the real reason for the cancellation, you then must handle it so that the person does, in fact, keep the appointment.

Fill out the form to the right to continue to read this article: “Strengthen Your Appointment Control – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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The Key to Effective Marketing: Surveys

Surveys can save you time and wasted effort. By properly utilizing surveys, you will not be shooting in the dark when you implement a new idea. You will not be left wondering why people are not coming back to your practice. You will know what your public needs and wants, so you can provide exactly that.

Have you ever come up with a “great” new idea, implemented it, and when nothing significant or productive occurred as a result, found yourself tearing out your hair wondering what went wrong? Or even worse, tearing out the hair of your staff because “new patients are down!”

Have you pondered over why new patients have dropped off even though you’re doing the same things that you have always done? It might be possible that the things you and others have been doing for many years are no longer effective. These scenarios are likely due to a failure to survey.

There are answers to marketing problems that you simply cannot procure from any source other than your clients/patients themselves. The motto in marketing is “know before you go,” if you don’t “know,” what the problem is, your patient surveys will tell you where to “go”.

Constructing the Survey

Although surveys will vary from practice to practice, there are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Indicate to your patient why you are doing a survey, and thank them for participating.
  2. Ask only relevant questions in your survey. Restrict your questions to important factors that will actually tell you if what you are doing is effective, or actions you can change for the better.
  3. Keep the survey brief. Write the survey so that it takes no more than 3-5 minutes to complete. If the survey is too long, your patients may feel annoyed, overburdened, bored or will not respond.
  4. Construct a survey that asks for specific answers. Create questions that provide you with information rather than having only “yes” or “no” answers.
  5. Allow patients the option to remain anonymous if they so choose.
  6. Provide a way for them to receive a response to their questions or input if they desire.
  7. If appropriate, set a deadline for the receipt of the surveys. Tell participants why you have a deadline and when it is.
  8. Graciously thank your patients for taking their time to fill out the survey.
  9. For mail-out surveys, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Recipients will be much more likely to send it back to you.

Fill out the form to the right and receive “The Key to Effective Marketing: Surveys – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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