As states across the country allow more industries to reopen their doors, it’s important for plastic surgery practice owners to remember that business may never go back to “normal.”
By Andrea De La Cerda, Scorpion
Moving too quickly and neglecting to make necessary adjustments to protect your patients and staff could have a catastrophic effect on your brand—that’s why we recommend a phased approach that enables you to take the time and care necessary to adapt to these entirely new conditions, protect your reputation, and set your practice up to end the year strong.
Here’s a guide your plastic surgery practice can use to build trust with potential patients as the country continues to find a way through this pandemic.
PHASE 1: PLANNING AND ALIGNMENT
Before reopening, lay out a plan that covers essential changes to your practice’s operations and marketing strategy.
Make sure each of these tasks is checked off your list:
- Align any new processes with federal and local requirements, then clearly and carefully document them for your staff. No matter the measures you choose to put in place, failing to make sure everyone understands and complies with them could lead to miscommunication and ultimately a poor experience for your patients.
- Notify your staff about the reopening ahead of time so you have enough time to confirm they’re able to work and are comfortable doing so, find replacements if you need to, and train the whole team on your office’s new policies and procedures. Building in plenty of time to practice and evaluate your staff’s understanding before you reopen can help ensure that you’re not disorganized and preoccupied when patients do begin coming back in.
- Make sure any telehealth or remote services you’re offering, such as surgical consultations via video, are clearly stated on your website and communicated as an option to your patients.
- Prioritize scheduling by dividing patients into different groups based on their level of need. For example, assign immediate appointment dates to recent surgery patients while you follow up with patients who are due for injectables or other less urgent procedures.
- Update your marketing channels with any COVID-19-related news.Reach out to existing patients via email, text message, social media, or any other platforms your practice uses to let them know when you’ll be open and answer frequently asked questions. Update your website with a banner that visitors can click on to read your latest COVID-19 updates.
PHASE 2: REOPENING
Many people are still feeling cautious about resuming their usual activities, and they’re researching medical providers with an entirely new set of expectations. You can let them know you’re taking these concerns seriously by simply communicating with them—be proactive about what they can expect if they choose to schedule a visit.
- Make phone calls to reschedule and confirm new appointments, and then follow up on those calls by emailing a video of you in your office telling patients what to expect when they come in for treatment.
- Incorporate advertising campaigns back into your marketing plan if you removed them. In your advertising, a confident and trustworthy tone is likely to resonate with potential patients right now. Video ads can be especially effective in doing this. Keep branded search advertising in your plan, and at minimum, begin long-tail search campaigns to maintain a brand presence in search results.
PHASE 3: PROMOTION AND COMMUNICATION
During this transition period, while offices are opening but anxieties around the pandemic still exist, the key factor in convincing your audience to pick up the phone is trust. People have more time on their hands than ever to conduct research, and you need to convince them that your practice is the best possible choice.
Online reviews are a great first step in establishing confidence. Gather and feature them in your email blasts, social posts, and on your website. Don’t underestimate the value of this—a glowing review of your office’s safety procedures might be the push a potential patient needs to feel safe scheduling an appointment.
Thank patients who come in with a free mask or small bottle of hand sanitizer. Then send them a survey after their appointment to gauge how they felt and what you can do to improve your process.
Any creative solutions your team uses should prioritize patient comfort. By paying attention to the factors that affect their confidence most, you’ll receive a stronger response and won’t spend time trying to fix things your patients aren’t actually worried about.
PHASE 4: PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
Your end-of-year goals have likely changed significantly since January. The way you operate your practice will continue to evolve and may even permanently change. Your costs to deliver care will probably go up. Therefore, it’s critical to have a plan that allows you to recover and secure as much business as possible while also creating opportunities for new sources of revenue.
The steps you take now can be the difference between consistent growth and potential closure. Keeping this in mind, here are a few steps to add to your long-term plan:
- Assess your optimal patient capacity for growth. With your doors open, your staff back in the office, and appointments with existing patients on the books, you should be able to get a baseline reading of the business you can expect your current strategies to yield. Then, consider your long-term revenue goals, how many more patients you need to get there, and which marketing tactics will help you reach them most efficiently.
- If you don’t already have one, find a reliable and strategic digital marketing partner who understands your goals and what it takes to help your practice reach those milestones. This period gives plastic surgery practices a clean slate to make an impression on their ideal patients, and those without a comprehensive marketing strategy will quickly lose patients to their local competitors.
Andrea De La Cerda is the director of vertical marketing at Scorpion. De La Cerda leads Scorpion’s strategy for the medical industry and enjoys educating practice owners about digital marketing solutions to grow their businesses. She brings more than 20 years of award-winning national and international marketing expertise to the Scorpion team.