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This Week’s Question:
Instant Surge of New Patients and Procedures: Patient Advisory Board
I have tried everything to get new patients. We advertise, use google adwords, send emails to our patients and nothing is working. I don’t know if it’s the economy or my patients didn’t get a tax return this year or what is going on. Do you have suggestions of what I can do to get the phone to ring?
Hello Dr. B,
Thanks for the question, I’m getting this one regularly. It’s time to be more creative with your messaging.
Want to grow your practice with patients you love working with? You know the ones: patients who love you, gladly pay your prices because they trust you are the best, are nice to your staff and refer their friends?
If so, here is a strategy that, if executed properly, will wake up your patients, your staff and YOU because you’ll have a new steady stream of patients to work with that brighten your day and make it fun to do what you do.
And, no, I am not talking about the latest shiny-object ninja Internet trick. I’m talking old school. It’s not sexy but I guarantee it will get you great results and that’s what will grow a sustainable practice you are proud of and enjoy going to every day.
In a nutshell, you create your own Practice Advisory Board. It’s the same concept banks, corporations and magazines use when they invite industry experts to be on their board to help them with strategy to grow the business. But, instead, you invite your favorite patients to help you with your own strategy to grow your practice.
Here’s how you do it:
– Go through your cosmetic patient list and handpick your favorite 25 patients who would be most open to this new idea to help you grow your cosmetic practice.
– Find a nearby restaurant that is nice with a quiet back room to accommodate up to 55 people. Do not cheap out here! This initial investment will be more than worth a little expense for a nice dinner with wine. This should NOT be held in your office. You are going for a neutral setting that is much more comfortable.
– Send a personal letter from you spelling out the concept and inviting them to be part of your new advisory board. They’ll need to know things like: Why you are doing this, why you chose them and what you want them to do. Be sure your main message is, “I love having you as a cosmetic patient and I want to grow my practice organically with OTHER patients just like you”. Request they bring with them a friend who is new to your practice so they, too, can get to know you.
– Have your patient coordinator call each one to either thank them for agreeing to the position or follow up to get an answer. There is no pressure. It’s a simple invitation.
– That night, you have 50 patients and prospective patients enjoying a nice dinner with wine and soft music and great conversation in a relaxed setting.
-Give a short presentation with lots of before/after photos (some of them could be of your patients in the room who love to brag about your work) and an update of what’s new in our practice as well as in the aesthetic industry in general.
– Now you sincerely address the group by explaining the premise:
“Welcome to my Aesthetic Advisory Board. I have chosen you because I enjoy working with you to look your best and I would rather invest more in you and your friends than a ton of money on mass advertising for patients who don’t fit our practice culture.
I sincerely appreciate your time and effort in helping me to grow my practice organically with referrals of your friends, service providers, colleagues, etc. (the point is to help them focus on who else they know they can refer you to). I welcome any ideas you have about additional exposure I could get in our community, and by that I mean media appearances, fundraisers, speaking opportunities, etc.”
Now, you need to get the ball rolling so I highly recommend having one or two patients in the audience who are prepped to start the brainstorming so it picks up speed and you start hearing ideas such as:
– “My sister owns a high-end hair salon close by and I could set up a phone call between the two of you to see if she wants to do an event with you”;
– “My neighbor happens to work for TV5 and knows the station manager really well so maybe you could get a spot on there to talk about that new procedure you just mentioned”;
– “I am in charge of this year’s Fall Charity Event and you could be our lunchtime speaker” and so on.
Be sure your staff is writing down the ideas or audiotaping it so you don’t miss anything. You’ll be surprised how creative your patients can get once they start brainstorming and the ideas are flowing.
Now you present exclusive VIP Cards towards anything in your practice to your current patients to thank them for their loyalty. That could include Valet parking, complimentary monthly peel and so on. Just keep it simple.
Then you present $100 “Get-To-Know-Us” gift cards to their friends because you want to see fresh eyes on your practice processes and their own experience when dealing with your staff because you are all about never-ending improvement. You can even give all 50 guests your special private email so they can provide their feedback directly to you.
The secret to the success of this practice-building strategy is to FOLLOW-UP on their suggestions. You did the hard part already. The easy part is to see it through. Have your coordinator contact the patients who shared to set up the next steps.
You have now created an instant surge of phone calls and consultations that should pick up steam and grow your cosmetic practice organically from there.