Speaker 1: Dr. Marketing Tips, paging Dr. Marketing Tips. Dr. Marketing Tips, you’re needed in the marketing department.
Speaker 2: Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast, your prescription to the answers you seek to grow your medical practice easier, better, and faster. This show is all about connecting practice administrators and medical marketing professionals with peers working in practices, learning from experiences, making mistakes, and sharing successes. Let’s get started.
Jennifer: Hey there, welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. I’m Jennifer.
Corey: I’m Corey.
Jennifer: And today, we are here to take a look at a trend that we have been observing on social media, in the news. It’s outside of health care, but we think there are some implications to the medical practices that we work with. And so, Corey, why don’t you kind of give us some background on this trend?
Corey: Yeah, so the trend we’re seeing is that store closures in the U.S. are at an all time high. So far, over 7000 have announced they’re closing their doors just this year alone, according to Coresight Research. So what we’re seeing is that, as these stores are closing down, these retail spaces, medical practices are starting to move into them. So experts say that for 2019 total store closures could top 12,000, which is more than that’s ever been recorded before. There’s big chains closing, like Bed, Bath and Beyond and Fred’s Pharmacy, to name a few. But then we also see locally, even in metro and some rural areas, that one-off mom and pop stores are closing as well.
Jennifer: So it’s interesting because I come from, before I got into being a business owner and starting the marketing group, I actually worked for one of the largest shopping center retail giants, big REIT, and spent about 10 years in retail. And there’s a Forbes article that basically says that, yeah, quite a few really large national chains are closing because the retail environment has changed. But if you review the Forbes article from 2018, it shows that retail sales are actually on the rise, and my experience working in retail with the shopping center developer opening some very large shopping centers in some very large markets is that retail is cyclical, and so, yeah, there may be some stores closing but they’re being back filled. If the market’s right and the product is right, by product I mean if the shopping center’s right, then they’re being back filled with new concepts.
But what we are seeing specific to medical practices are, as they’re looking to expand their operations, they’re actually taking a look at a retail environment versus a professional office space environment. And I think that’s a trend we’re going to see more and more.
Corey: Patients, they’re sort of gotten used to certain conveniences, right? So it makes sense for some practices to be in some of these spaces, and I know a couple of years ago, that could have been, and it still is I think in some cases, kind of like a tough sell to some of the partners that say, “We are physicians. Why would we want to be in this plaza above a Panera bread,” or whatever? But I think patients kind of, they like the fact that there’s ample parking and there’s these walkable spaces, or if they have an appointment, maybe they have to drop somebody off, then they can sort of peruse and shop a little bit, have a bite to eat. In fact, we have a couple of clients that are in some of these retail spaces ad those offices do very, very well.
Jennifer: And there’s an article in Healthcare Finance that talks about medical practices turning to retail tactics, and the reason being is we’ve got this huge rise in consumerism in the last decade or so. And just being able, how quick and easy it is to buy online, and to be expecting to walk into a retail space, it’s expected in the healthcare space as well. And so you’re seeing more and more practices turning to some level of kind of tackling this consumer face forward, like getting right up in it, and what I mean by that is, you’ve got dermatology practices that are selling products. We’ve got a practice, a plastic surgeon, who as part of his practice he has a retail space that includes a salon, and what I mean by a salon is it’s a hair salon and then he sells hair products that are private labeled for his plastic surgery. So basically it’s a funnel. The retail environment for him is a funnel for increased patients.
We’ve got an ophthalmology group that’s moved into a large outdoor shopping center. They’ve got a Barnes and Noble in the shopping center. They’ve got a Talbot’s. They’ve got restaurants there, but they’ve gotten into this whole retail sales, like direct to the consumer. You come in for your healthcare but you also pick up your products.
Corey: Right, and they also have a full optical shop there, so it makes sense for people to walk in and they can sort of peruse the optical shop. And they offer walk-in appointments on Saturdays. And we also have some orthopedic clients that have walk-in clinics …
Jennifer: In a retail environment.
Corey: … in a retail environment, which, when you think about it, it makes total sense because just in this environment there’s such an influx of foot traffic. Where if you’re in a standalone medical plaza and then you try and offer walk-ins or Saturday appointments or whatever, you’re automatically, not at a disadvantage, but you don’t have the advantage of people just walking by and either seeing the signage or spending a couple days there and sort of coming top of mind for these folks when they need to walk in somewhere because you’re right down the street from their favorite store or whatever the case may be.
Jennifer: Yeah. I think we’re seeing in so many different specialties more of these cash based retail offerings. It blows me away more and more, and it makes sense I guess, but we’re seeing weight loss programs inside orthopedic practices, we’re seeing the weight loss programs inside endoscopy practices, where they’re selling food and weight loss advice to patients to help them prevent surgery. Or, back to the dermatology practice selling private labeled, you’re even seeing from a consumerism stand point, there’s this expectation that if you’re loyal to a particular brand that you’re going to be rewarded with brand points. We’ve got many clients that are now starting to do loyalty programs for their spa services or med spas and things like that, where they’re rolling in Botox and injectables and just giving you points based on how loyal you are to them, and then rolling that into kind of a funnel for the bigger part of the practice, which is the medical side of stuff. So I think we’re seeing this more and more.
Corey: Yeah, I was going to say, a lot of the injectable providers and specifically on the plastic surgery and med spa side, they all sort of have those loyalty programs in place, where it’s basically like copy, paste, drag, and drop, and you can start one. And we’re starting to see practices sort of take that model and apply it to other things, which is really interesting.
Jennifer: So I was listening to a podcast last week and it’s Med Spa Today. So basically it’s a podcast just for people in the med spa industry. They had a nurse practitioner who has gone out on her own and she just focuses on injectables now. So she was, this is interesting, she was on Instagram and she happened to be a part of an Instagram community with a large REIT. A REIT is basically the holding company for developers when they’re building their shopping centers. And she was in a community on Instagram talking with people in the REIT that are all around the shopping centers, and the shopping center folks approached her to open a med spa concept just for injectables, it’s a boutique spa, a retail spa, to put it into 85 of their properties.
And basically, the gist of the podcast is, when you get offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask questions like, “Which seat am I going to be in? Am I in first class,” whatever? You get on the rocket ship, and that’s what she’s saying. She was a pediatric cardiac nurse in a NICU unit, and then she transitioned somehow into being somebody who specialized in injectables. She got onto Instagram, and then from Instagram, she got offered a seat on the rocket ship to open 85 retail shops for a boutique med spa that just focused on injectables.
Jennifer: So I just think we’re seeing this so much more and more, and I think there’s other benefits of being in a retail space. One, your patients are going to like it, especially if you have a wait time issue.
Corey: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jennifer: You can almost give your patients a buzzer. They can go around, and just like you would if you were at a restaurant and somebody says, “It’s going to be 30 minute wait, or an hour wait.” “No problem. The doctor’s a bit behind. I’m going to walk next door to Starbucks,” or, “I’m going to go right over here to the Barnes and Noble and I’m going to grab a book, or something like that, or do some shopping.” So I think it helps from a patient standpoint. Our office are, for our listeners, are inside of a very large orthopedic practice. We sub-let space at the orthopedic practice and our team is inside a suite that is tied to their surgery center. They moved into a retail environment about 10 years ago. I think they were a little bit ahead of the curve and I think that’s when we started having space at their place.
But from an employee stand point, the employees love the fact that they’re in the retail environment. It used to be when employees were going to go to lunch, they had to get in their car and drive to lunch somewhere, or they’d bring their lunch and then the break room would get crazy business. But now, in the shopping center that we’re in with them, they’ve got a Starbucks, there’s a Target with a grocery attached to the target, so there’s a deli. We’re often in there. There’s restaurants everywhere. You’re super close to things. In fact, it’s the large orthopedic practice is there, and the hospital has all of their communication people in the same buildings, because sometimes in a retail environment you’ve got an upstairs that has an office. So there’s a lot of different benefits to go with it. So not just patient experience but also employee experience.
Corey: Yeah, and one thing that we see constantly as we monitor reviews and reputations of some of these practices is we know how important the overall patient experience is. One of the biggest complaints typically is wait time. So think of being in a retail space as an opportunity to sort of have this passive opportunity to curb some of that negative feedback potentially about wait times, just because you happen to be in this space. You don’t actually have to change anything about operations or what not. You just happen to be in a place where people want to be and they don’t complain about it as much. So if they don’t complain about it, it sort of inherently improves the patient experience without having to do any extra work, which is a win.
Jennifer: Yeah, I think this is all good stuff and I think we’re going to see as the retail environment changes and as consumerism becomes more and more in the forefront of thought for medical practices, we’re going to see this as a trend that’s going to continue, especially as we see medical practices grow over the next couple of years. So I think that’s probably about it for today. With that, I’m Jennifer.
Corey: I’m Corey.
Jennifer: We’ll see you next time on the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast.
Corey: Thanks guys.
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