I’m continually amazed when talking to private practice owners about getting more referrals. They seem stuck in old marketing strategies of relying on physicians to send a steady stream of patients their way. Despite increased competition from other therapists and physician owned clinics they have a difficult time letting go of the familiar ways of the past. To their disadvantage many owners still ignore their clinic’s most valuable asset–
Satisfied Previous Patients
Every clinic that has survived for more that a few years has a patient list. Within your patient database there are patients who are grateful for the care they received at your clinic. They personally connect with you and believe in the work you do. They can’t wait to tell their friends and family how much better they feel and to see you.
They are your biggest fans. Don’t take them for granted. To grow your clinic you should focus 90% of your attention on them. Here is a blog post by Chad Madden that tells how to keep in touch with your biggest fans.
Shortcuts to Getting New Patients from Repeat Customers
One of the alarming metrics I share about Madden PT (my Private Practice) is in 2009, we hit an all-time highest ever of 154 New Patients referred by physicians, in one month.
Due to the changing healthcare environment (Hospital systems, POPTS practice come to mind), that number shrunk to 30 New Patients for us in March.
So we’ve gone on a progressive decline from 154 down to 30.
Yet we’re busier than ever before…
Our income is better than ever before…
We’re seeing more ideal clients than ever before…
Our patient compliance and graduation rate is better than ever before…
And we continue to grow…
So What’s the Deal?
A month or two ago in the “Breakthrough Marketing Strategies for Physical Therapists” group on LinkedIn…another owner stated:
“We need referrals from doctors to stay in business… if we don’t have that, we might as well join them.”
(I’m paraphrasing, and unfortunately not giving the full context in the space provided here, yet I’m sure you get the point).
I’ll politely decline to agree with the comment, and here’s why.
In spite of operating in one of the most competitive healthcare markets in the U.S., my Private Practice continues to grow (we doubled profitability in 2013, over any other year in business).
So what’s the BIG Secret of how we continue to grow and expand in spite of shrinking referrals?
Acres of Diamonds
One of my favorite stories of all-time is Russell Conwell’s “Acres of Diamonds” (you can Google it and read it later).
In the story, a farmer sells his land and farm in Africa and spends the rest of his life desperately searching for diamonds, and dies broke and a failure.
Meanwhile the land that he sold, the farm, later was discovered to be on top of the largest diamond mine in the history of the world…
I’m not sure if the story is true or not.
It’s a good one though.
And it illustrates a point I believe many of us Private Practice Owners miss…
We’re sitting on Acres of Diamonds, and don’t even realize it…
BIG Secret Revealed
In my Killer Marketing Training, one of the first things I share is the value of:
Your Past Patient List (Your Acres of Diamonds)
These people already know you.
They like you.
They trust you.
And now you’ve discharged then and maybe even encouraged them to never come back again…
M-I-S-T-A-K-E (and one I made for years).
In any industry, in any business, the #1 Asset of the business is the customer list AND the relationship of that business with their customers.
And as in other businesses, you can choose to:
- Ignore your patient list.
- Send them generic, meaningless B.S. that portrays, we hope, that we care about our patients…
- Or send them meaningful communication that allows that patient to continue to feel connected to us.
What Meaningful and Valuable Communication Can Do For You and Your Private Practice…
Two weeks ago we hit an all-time high here at Madden PT, 17 Returning Patients in one week.
That’s 17 New Patients just from our past patient list.
Our team was pumped.
And you can do the same…
Staying in contact with your past patient list does several things:
- Keeps you top of mind for their Physical Therapy needs…
- Establishes you as an Authority, Celebrity and Expert (A.C.E.)
- Makes it more likely they refer their friends and family to you…
And my favorite benefit, if you do this the right way.
They’ll come back years later and talk to you as though they’ve never left.
It’s pretty cool…
Like they’re part of your family.
(I cover step-by-step how I’ve done this at Madden PT for the past 10 years, in my Killer Marketing Training, only open to Private Practice PTs unfortunately, the enrollment period for the latest group of owners is closed as of this writing… we’ll be opening another KM Training later this year).
***As an aside, by far your greatest Return on Marketing Investment (ROI) should come from your marketing efforts to your past patient base…NOT the unwashed masses of the general public. Write this down…and reread it until it’s etched into your subconscious business mind.***
So How Do You Stay in Touch With Your Past Patients?
Well you have quite a few options when choosing how to stay in touch with your past patients…
If you’ve been following my blog, you know by now I’m a huge fan of Direct Response Marketers, especially Dan Kennedy.
For years, Dan taught a concept called “Market-Message-Media” match…meaning for your marketing to work, you need to match the right market with the right message using the right media.
So for our past patients and considering “Media”, here’s a few options:
- Snail Mail (including postcards, letters, and newsletters)
- Facebook and other Social Media
- Live communication, such as at an event…
- Smoke signals…
You get the point…
So, which “Media” is most used by your past patients AND are they most likely to respond to?
(That’s what I would use, and what I share in the Killer Marketing Training).
On the negative side I dropped my Twitter efforts years ago, because my Target Market is not using Twitter.
OK, You Picked Your Media…Now What Do You Put in There? What’s Your Message?
Again, due to the limits of space and time, I’m going to touch on this briefly…
I can tell you what your message should NOT consist of, at least from experience.
100% PT Jargon-filled, condition-related advice…
You know what I’ve found to work best?
Recently in a bulletin we sent out to our past Patient List (a touch over 7,000 people), we did a cover story on the 3 Mini Donkeys we have on our farm…and the story of how one ends up with 3 Mini Donkeys: Haley, MoonBeam and Peppermint Patty (who is expecting in August, so make that 4 Mini Donkeys).
A little quirky…
A bit different…
BUT Crazy effective at building long term relationships with past patients (aka customers) who already know, like and trust us…
And WAY outside of the box of typical “marketing” you’d get from your PT.
At this point, it’s in your court…
Are you going to continue to rely on physician referrals 100% to grow your practice?
Even though you KNOW they’re being bought up by the local hospital system…or may be opening their own POPTS clinic in the future?
Or are you going to start working your past patient list?
Warming it up?
And eventually seeing them after their TKR, for your PT, even when the orthopedic surgeon says he wants them to go to the PT in his basement because they “communicate better” (even though we really know it’s because the ortho owns that clinic)?
So what’s it going to be?
If you’ve been following the full Patient Funnel…then you know we’ve covered 5 Steps so far:
- Lead Magnet
- Core Service
- Upsells and Cash Pay Services
- And now, the Return Path
Next time, I’ll be covering “Referrals”, and how we just hit a Highest Ever for New Patients referred by other patients in one week: 14. (That’s for one clinic.)
That will be my last blog covering the Patient Funnel…
Do you have something you’d like to read about regarding Private Practice PT Marketing? Hit the “Like” button and leave a suggestion below…
Also, as I mentioned earlier, my Killer Marketing Training Enrollment is closed as of this writing, and won’t open again for likely another 6 months.
BUT in the mean time, I do have a few tools I can share with you IF you’re a Private Practice PT or Private Practice Owner.
I put together a “Fix Your Funnel” package which includes:
- “My Greatest Promotion Ever”…which is the step by step guide to a single day promotion we used at Madden PT which resulted in 65 New Patients in one day (October 29, 2013) and 50 New Patients PLUS a Waiting List (on November 4, 2014).
- The Killer Testimonial Machine…which is how we’ve collected over 4,000 Patient Stories and Testimonials from our patients…this includes the “What to say”; the template we use…and what we do with the testimonial once it’s written by the patient.
Go here to check out the offer:
I’ll leave it up at least through the next month.
Hope this helps you,