What you face when launching a practice in a new town
You’ve just relocated your practice from one town to another. How do you establish your practice—and your new life and overall sense of self—in this new location? How do you find new staff?
When you consider your new practice, in most markets you can realistically “lease” a new staff, as well as lease, purchase, or bring in equipment and be up and running within a week. Or, perhaps you placed several want ads weeks prior to the move, and now have to leaf through a stack of resumes a yard high, most of which probably represent experts in some other specialty. They are experts, but can they run an office for you? No, they can’t.
The proper first step is to seek out those individuals with whom you feel most comfortable. You can afford to be picky. Look for compatibility factors.
A HIRING PROCEDURAL
- Truly “hear” what prospective employees say to you; not just to the answers to questions you ask. Listen to them when they speak about their family, their career, advantages wasted, and opportunities squandered—or taken.
- During the interview process, ask meaningful questions that require more than simple yes/no answers. Ask questions that encourage interviewees to discuss their thoughts and feelings.
- Don’t be afraid to choose someone who hasn’t specialized in your field. Some of the best employees I have hired or recommend are generalists.
- The prospective employee who is honest, and comes with an excellent work record and a sheaf of good recommendations, can be the perfect employee for establishing a new practice.
- Good practice building means bringing together your new staff prior to presenting them with patients. It is better to know that your new staff will not get into disputes with one another in front of a new patient.
- Finally, be sure that you script how your staff answers the telephone. Be certain that everyone knows what to say, and in what order. Ensure that everyone knows everyone else’s responsibilities. Patient calls should be consistently routed to the proper staff person(s) in a timely manner.
Assuming you’ve identified your staff, and they are in place, it’s time to look at how to build a new, positive reputation from scratch. The most compelling way to affiliate with your new home is to develop your reputation for being an expert in your field.
There are many different ways to create and market your brand to a new group of patients. First, realize that they simply need to know about you. What you do with them once you get them in the door is up to you, but let’s look at some surefire ways to get them in the door.
- What does your Web site say about you?
If you have one and it isn’t producing patients, ask yourself why. The Web is a newspaper, magazine, and Yellow Pages all rolled into one. That doesn’t mean that the other venues won’t work for you. It means that the more information you put on your Web site and the higher your search engine rankings, the better you’re going to be at marketing your practice and attracting new patients.
- Columns in local newspapers
Developing and delivering a concisely written, 250-word column in a local newspaper on a regular basis is an amazing patient generator. Remember to write about aesthetic procedures in layman’s terms; don’t get too technical in your descriptions. If you are uncomfortable writing in this manner, hire a ghostwriter—the number of new patients you get will offset the expense.
- PSAs on a local radio station
Are you willing to invest 2 or 3 hours of your time to do several public service announcements that convey important medical information to the public? At the end of each announcement, you get time to say, “This is Dr. Your Name Here of XYZ Medical Center, saying, good health and success.” Often, the station announcer gives your contact information at the end of a broadcast.
- Guest appearances on local television news or advertorial programs
Anytime you put yourself in the public eye, you will have both supporters and detractors. The detractors may not even listen to the quality of information or quantity of information you share. They may simply not like the sound of your voice, the way your write, or even the tie you are wearing. Do not let that discourage you.
If you appear on the local news once per week, you’ll invest about a small amount of your time, and each appearance can net up to 10 prospective new patient calls.
If you participate as a paid endorser for advertorial services, or in a direct response/infomercial role, you will be paid a talent fee plus residuals each time the program runs in markets across the country. When you land such an opportunity, be sure to issue a press release announcing that you are a part of the programming.
As an aside, it is worthwhile to do all you can, affordably, to make regular announcements of your new procedures and services, in addition to any media appearances.
Alan Guinn is managing director of The Guinn Consultancy Group Inc, based in New York. He can be reached at www.theguinnconsultancygroup.com or (917) 224-6782.