It is well regarded that clinicians tend not to make the best business owners. We are often too modest to tell others about the benefits of our service and place too much credence on our clinical interventions rather than the wider patient experience.Thankfully we can take some pointers from other business models, some of which may translate into better, more profitable clinic services.
- Learn from Hairdressers…..perhaps we should all do a placement at our local salon. Senior stylists down to Junior stylists… clients are used to paying a rate that reflects the experience of the professional. How is it we charge the same price regardless of the practitioner. Increase your prices and gravitas for Senior clinicians and offer attractive rates for those a little more junior (market them not as less experienced but young, dynamic. forward thinking)
- Learn from your Dentist, Financial advisor, and hairdresser…take ownership of your role in your patient’s life especially new patients. Make sure you use key phrases such as ‘now I’m your therapist…’and become a stakeholder in their continued well-being.
- Learn from the garage attendant (or the hairdresser)…who use the opportunity of your encounter to offer you something you might want…whether it’ a 2 for 1 on Creme Eggs (or a special deal on a hair care product) these service workers have evolved in to ‘by the way’ salespeople…taking them from a cost to their organisation to an income generating asset by increasing your total spend..however small. It goes without saying however, you need to be convinced that you’re selling your patients something that you feel will wholeheartedly improve their well being.
- Learn from Broadband Providers..they hook you in with a special introductory offer and before you know it, you’re a lifetime customer. It’s got to be a good offer and of course the ongoing relationship needs to still ‘wow’ you. It’s a competitive marketplace out there. Consider a greatly reduced initial assessment fee (but never free…it diminishes your value..) on the basis it will almost certainly lead to a series of treatment sessions and/or an enduring relationship.
- Learn from airline companies…look in the mirror and ask yourself who you are. Are you a no frills budget provider with low cost, high volumes with quick turnover or are you a top end, high value business ? An Easyclinic or an Emirates Therapist ? There’s no shame in either…though I suspect we view ourselves as the latter….but you need to back that up not just in your treatment but every ‘service point’ within the patient experience. From the reception area to parking to self care (especially scrawled stick man diagrams or software from the 80’s…Grrr!). Your whole branding, culture and vision must be consistent throughout creating a coherent ‘look and feel’ for your patients. Whatever end of the spectrum you see yourself, charge accordingly.
- Learn from Estate Agents…they make it their business to be a key part of their community. Highly visible, often sponsoring local events and sports teams, they get into the subconscious mind of the locals. This is your community too and you need to join the party. Have a stall at summer fêtes, meet local people, have a chat, bring your couch and treat the ‘niggles for nowt’. It will pay dividends in the long run. Rather than a passive recipient to referrals entice your staff to get involved at local clubs, incentivise them with bonuses for any new appointments they generate. Be part of the community. .
- Learn from our colleagues in the USA….well in part. Senior Therapists delegate to junior PTs, sports therapists, massage therapists and personal trainers. They leverage their time whilst managing to create a buzz in their practices using the skills of others but keep a close eye on outcomes and patient satisfaction levels and knows when to intervene.
- Learn from train operators….they differentiate between when their service is at it’s greatest demand to filling the gaps between the daily ‘crush-hour’. Think about changing your pricing structure to reflect the greater demand for early and late appointments and entice the ‘off peakers’ in the times in between with special rates and offers. Consider commercial intermediaries to fill the gaps (using junior staff- See 1 above) but avoid them becoming the staple diet of your clinic.
- Learn from the locker room…Consider a totally different format one day of the week or month. Rather than the usual regimented appointment system consider a ‘Walk-in centre approach’ especially potent on a Sunday morning…keep the weekend warriors happy with quick checks for small cheques and fill the diary for follow ups in the week.
- Learn from retailers (except BHS, Woolworths, Blockbusters..!)…the good ones are continually asking questions, where are the trends now, what are they likely to be tomorrow, what do we do well, where do we need to improve. They see customer feedback as an opportunity to improve and steal a march on their competition and continually evolve. Use patient feedback as your guide to greatness !
Clinicians are often too bogged down with treating patients to find time to market their business or devise feedback surveys. By happy coincidence, the Exercise Prescriber is relaunching in July with new functionality for clinic owners to address the ‘business of physiotherapy’ . The Campaign Builder will allow clinic owners to use EP output to provide marketing initiatives (e.g. gift vouchers, refer a friend…) and collect patient feedback through template surveys, NHS Friends and Family and links to external survey sites.
The new version of Exercise Prescriber will retain it’s simplicity of use with great output (exercise videos, e-books, infopages) and will ‘Make clinical lives easier…patient lives better’.
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Do you have any other tips that have worked well for your clinic ? Please share them with the community and help clinic owners build better businesses