Ever feel the need to grow your patient base?
Being a new practice with zero patients on day one, I felt an overwhelming sense of urgency to get patients in my chair immediately! As a new grad, you’re likely feeling the same pressure of drumming up business for your practice. Rather than sitting back and hoping for a flood of patients to come pouring through your doors, it’s time to get proactive.
Through trial and error, I have found the following five methods to be some of the best ways to build a wider patient base.
1. Write Your PCP Letters
I have received numerous referrals from local internists and family doctors after sending them letters updating them on their patients. Start with the basics: diabetics, Plaquenil exams, and ocular manifestations of systemic conditions. Let them know (succinctly) the results of the exam. Use correct terminology where appropriate: “(-) Clinically Significant Macular Edema (CSME) and (-) retinal neovascularization” sounds much better than “diabetes without eye involvement.” I also include my recommendation for how often patients with this condition should be monitored.
2. Internal Marketing
You have a steady stream of captive patients parading through your exam lane every day. Take 30 seconds at the end of every exam and educate them on who you are (organizations you’re a member of, your training) and what services you offer (ie. treating eye injuries, pediatric exams, etc). Internal marketing may not have as wide a reach as a billboard, but your message won’t fall on deaf ears either.
Look for other local brands that share a similar customer-base. Create content that is mutually beneficial and promote the content. This will put you in front of countless potential patients and will paint you in a positive light. At West End Eye Care, we recently collaborated with a local makeup artist to create a tutorial on how to wear eye makeup with glasses. We also recruited a local photographer, clothing boutique owner, and a fashion blogger as a model. The blog post was one of our highest-viewed posts of all time due to the wide audience we reached.
4. Build a Referral Program
Your current patients are one of your best resources for bringing in new patients. Create a referral program that rewards current patients for recommending you to their friends. Here are a few examples:
- Give them a free pair of glasses for every five patients they refer
- Refund a certain percentage of their previous order for every patient they refer — up to 100%
- Give discounts or store credit to both the referring and the referred patient
Make sure the math works out in your favor, but chances are you will end up deep in the black by implementing a solid, repeatable referral program.
5. Get Involved
Don’t most of your friends come to you for their eye care needs? Then why not make a ton of friends who will do the same? Getting involved in organizations like rotary club, local volunteer groups, heck, even rec league softball will give you the opportunity to meet countless people and probably recruit a few patients along the way. Plus, getting out of the office every once in a while isn’t such a terrible thing!
If you’re looking to add value to your practice, start by recruiting new patients. Implementing even one of these suggestions could have a huge impact on your appointment book next month.