One: offer consultations
Many websites have a basic contact form and leave it at that. Prospective patients might not be aware of what happens next, so make it very clear that you want them to come and see you to discuss their needs and expectations. Set up a page on the website that describes what they can expect from the consultation so patients feel comfortable about getting in touch.
Two: answer all calls!
A small practice may not have the revenue or flow of clients to justify a full-time receptionist or secretary but it is essential that you put steps in place to try and answer (the majority) of incoming calls. Forbes recently undertook some research that showed that 80% of people, when presented with an automated answer phone, didn’t leave a message.
Every single enquiry is an opportunity to grow your practice. A phone answering service can cost as little as £100 per month – check out Clinic Connect for a free trial.
Three: rapid response
With one of our recent clients, we’ve seen a 30% increase in conversions of enquiry to appointment simply by going back to the client straight away. Within 30 minutes if this is possible. At the very least you should be returning their call within 24 hours.
Adopting a rapid response policy does two things. Firstly, it’s what the competition does. Secondly, it shows the clients that you are efficient and keen to talk. It says you want their custom.
Four: charge for consultations
Many of the large chains will offer a free consultation. It’s worth bearing in mind that this is very rarely with a surgeon or practitioner and is often a salesperson (or patient coordinator) who is there to establish how motivated a client is or to sort out finance before they see an actual surgeon.
Charging for your time not only ensures that the client turns up, but it also makes them aware that they are seeing a professional. By paying for your services they become an actual client at the consultation stage which means they are more likely to remain a client if a procedure is required.
If you are in a highly competitive area and you feel you need to offer a free consult then create a tier of consultations. Offer a short, 15-minute Mini Consultation as an informal introduction to you and the clinic which is less about a physical medical consultation and more of a Q&A session.
Five: remind them. And then remind them again!
No shows are a curse and actual cost on your business. Once an appointment is booked we recommend reminding them the day before with either a phone call or a text and then once again on the morning of the appointment.
If you’re a busy clinic then consider investing in some software to manage this process automatically. We have a number of clients that have used Timely which automates texting and emailing and has a useful cloud-based clinic diary system that can be shared.
Six: meet them before you meet them & tick off FAQs
Makes some short video clips. This benefits you on two levels. Initially, if a prospective patient has seen you talk about your practice on video then it will make them more at ease. It removes some of the uncertainty that we all feel as humans when we meet someone for the first time. See our post on shooting your own video for some inspiration.
Secondly, if you tick off a number of FAQs (this can be on video or just simply on the page) before they see you, then you’re a little further down the road when it comes to the consultation. Your patients will have lots of questions for you before they make their decision; answering as many as you can in advance will give them confidence and increase the chances of a positive outcome.
Seven: quick follow up
Follow up the consultation with written confirmation of any proposed treatment with the costs and information on how to book the procedure. It’ll show your prospective client that you are attentive, organised and a good person to be looking after them.
Eight: don’t lose any prospective patients
Not everyone is hot to trot. Some patients, if suitable, are ready to go quickly, others may need to save up, find time off work, or arrange for childcare. I have seen patients who book at the consultation stage and I have also seen them wait two years. Implement a system to keep your leads live and make contact with them in the coming months until they book. Be mindful of GDPR regulations (ask us if you’re in any doubt).
Some small changes to your consultation set up can have dramatic results. If you need any help with websites, call answering or email newsletters then drop us a line and we’d be happy to see if we can assist.