Like any business, your medical practice needs cash flow. And, the fastest way to increase cash flow is to bring in new business. You want to bring the most dollars in while limiting the amount of dollars going out. It’s that simple. That’s why I cannot stress enough how important it is that you cross market what your office is capable to your existing patient base. You’ll make more money and you won’t spend much to get there – sounds like a win-win, right? That’s because it is.
Your current patient base is the absolute, most captive audience you’ll ever have the pleasure of interacting with. They’re already there for your help and when they’re sitting in an exam room they’re dying (no pun intended) for something to hold their attention. That’s one of the prime opportunities for you to tell them about all of the wonderful services you offer they may have never known about. Think about it – let’s say you’re an ear nose and throat office and a patient comes in because they have a sore throat; they might not even realize you can offer them hearing aids as well unless you tell them.
Aside from the obvious benefits of generating more reasons to buy (and buy more), there are other advantages to cross promoting as well. When you cross promote you are increasing your credibility and visibility in the eyes of patients. They’ll see your logo and your services more, which helps to keep you top of mind when one of those issues you’re advertising rears its head. On top of that, you’ll seem like the expert in your field because you offer a wealth of services. Not to mention that it costs much, much less to advertise to your current patients when compared to marketing to an entire new audience.
So with all that said, what are some of the ways you can quickly cross promote and produce a higher net cash flow at your office?
We all want to look at pretty things; it’s the way our minds work. One of the easiest ways to cross promote is to create several visually appealing, eye catching posters advertising what else you offer to patients. Give them facts about your practice, bullet points about your history or just list what else you can do for them. It’s that simple. We see it time and time again where a patient will say, “I had no idea you offered that service too.” Just like that, you’ve created more business for yourself and all it took was a few bucks to have the signage created and printed. That said, it’s important to note that if you want something to really stand out, have a professional write and design it for you. The subtle magnificence of Microsoft Paint just doesn’t translate every time.
Consider having fliers at the checkout area of your office as well with the same message. Have a stack there so patients know they can take one and pass it along if they so choose to a family member or friend. You can also hang fliers throughout the office instead of large-scale posters, which should be saved more for exam rooms. Place these sparingly however – you want to educate but not over stimulate.
When a patient calls your office what happens? Typically they’ll enter a touchtone directory and will then choose the department they want to speak with or they’ll wind up talking to the operator. When said operator is too busy and patients are on hold, are you taking advantage of this time or are you just playing music? Record a hold message (or have a staff member record one) listing some of what you do and how you can help them be healthier and happier. Ideally, when they speak to a live person next, they’ll be armed with a new service you offer and one they just may well need or want. Be sure to keep these messages up to date, current and short if possible.
Restaurants and various other businesses do it all the time. Organize a staff meeting and instruct every member of your staff, or a particular group such as the front desk folks, to push a particular service you offer. They can casually mention it while taking patient or payment information from patients. This engages the patient in conversation and educates them at the same time. Try it for a week or two, and switch the product or serve you’re advertising to patients to see if the pushes are making a difference.
Who doesn’t love free stuff? By offering patients items or trinkets to show you care, this leads to, you guessed it, more opportunity to cross promote. Consider offering patients small tokens of your appreciation such as nifty promotional products as they leave the office, or send them some by mail. Think outside of the box here and don’t give away pens or notepads. This is a great tool to announce you have brought on a new doctor or have launched a new service. This way you can increase loyalty, get your name out there and share another service you offer all in one inexpensive item.
You may also want to consider hosting an open house for patients occasionally. Think once per quarter or twice a year. This allows you to show patients you care, it gives them an opportunity to ask questions in an informal setting and to learn more about all the other services you offer. You can address a group of your best patients with a few minute speech at some point during the event and let them know about everything your practice offers right there on the spot. It’s direct marketing at its finest, literally.
When Can We Start?
You can start right now. With a little organization and a clear game plan, you can begin your cross marketing efforts tomorrow and see the results immediately. It’s entirely up to you how much you want to do and, to an extent, how successful the program will be. Besides, what else are you going to do until next month’s column comes out?