5 Essential steps to build a practice

Laura Livesey:
What are the five essential steps that you absolutely must know to build a thriving practice?

Rod Solar:
One of the things we tell people all the time is you’ve got to start off with a really strong foundation. I mean, it’s just like building a house. So when you start thinking about planning your project (which is in fact your practice)… and really got to look at it this way… is you have to be in with understanding what’s going to be the basis of it. That typically begins with understanding number one, “who are you?, and why would anybody be interested in what you have to offer?”. Going through that process might sound simple, but in fact, it’s considerably more involved than that.

Laura:
Agonizing sometimes.

Rod:
Absolutely. I think one of the biggest challenges that many surgeons face is thinking, “Well, how do I sell myself?”

Laura:
Dirty word.

Rod:
Exactly. The key thing here to remember is that you actually don’t have to sell yourself that much, as long as you offer something up that people are demanding to buy. I think that’s part of setting up a good foundation.

Understand your avatar

Obviously, I think it’s also important to consider that you really have to understand your avatar. What I mean by that is, you have to understand who it is that you’re speaking to. How are you going to move them? What messages are you going to communicate in order for them to feel, “Ah, this person, this entity, this practice, they stand me. They understand my concerns. They can empathize with my deepest feelings and my perhaps insecurities, challenges and pain points so that now I can see them as somebody who might offer me hope to overcome some of these problems.”

And it’s understanding that helps people see you the surgeon, as a guide, moving them down a journey on which they will be transformed into the person that they’ve always wanted to be.

Now, that sounds really high falutin, but really, it is honestly critical to think about in these terms.

Laura:
Yeah, absolutely. And then once you figure it out,

“Okay, who am I going after? Who is it that will most likely want to do business with me?” Because not everybody wants to do business with you.

There’s going to be only a certain part of the market and the competition can have those other people. That’s why there’s room for everybody in the market.

So once you figure out that person, then you have to figure out where do they specifically hang out? So whether that’s online or offline. Probably online. Online has the cheap way of acquiring customers, but maybe down the road, when you have more revenue in your practice, you can go for an offline approach.

But you need to figure out, “Okay, how do I track these specific people? Where are they hanging out? Is it Facebook? Is it Twitter? Is it LinkedIn? Is it attending an event? Is it going to a trade show?”

So you need to figure out ‘how do I track them? And what do I do specifically with a website so that I create a conversion engine? And what I mean by that is, tactics don’t really make a practice. And I think a lot of people get stuck originally. Would you agree?

You don’t need the excessive marketing tactics

Rod:
Absolutely.

Laura:

In terms of thinking there’s a silver bullet. “I need to write the copy perfectly on Twitter and that will make my practice.” It has nothing to do with tactics. It has to do with strategy.

Rod:
How many times do we get the question, “Should I do Facebook ads? Should I just post a lot on Twitter? Is video good?” Right?

Laura:
Mm-hmm.

Rod:
All of these questions are useful and important, but it’s almost like talking about somebody’s health and just speaking about the minutia of, should they have a Vitamin A. How does that involve all of their health conditions? How does that incorporate the whole scope of what their goals are? You have to know that.

Laura:
Yeah. I think people forget that the critical asset that you have with your website, the point of it is not to sell you or your practice.

It’s to generate the first step in an almost intimate relationship that you’re trying to build. You’re trying to get them to take a little wee step so that basically, they call you.

And then there’s a whole process that needs to happen to build a relationship.

Make your website your conversion engine

Rod:
Yeah. As Laura said, the most critical thing that your website can do, is not just show pretty pictures and talk a good game.

The number one thing that your website has to do, is incite the person who’s visiting to take action.

And that action can take many forms. Usually that action is, “Well, I’m not getting what I need here. So I’m going to bounce off the website.” That’s not the action we want. The action we want is, “Wow. There is something here of value.”

Now that value could be, “For the very first time, I’m understanding how it is to go through this journey. I get the clear steps, one, two, three. For the very first time, I understand that this is actually for me because they’ve identified that I’m the kind of person as a patient that they might be looking for.”

Now, their action could take the form of completing a form in exchange for some real value, not just, “Sign up to my newsletter.” There’s no value in that. Or, “Sign up so we can call you back.” Well, basically that’s like sign up for telemarketing, but it’s just something of real value, which we call a lead magnet, which we’ll get into in other segments.

But one of the most enticing lead magnets that you can offer really is to offer a very valuable telephone call. And it’s not just, “Call me and I’ll answer your questions and make it hard work for you,” but rather, “Call me and I will provide for you an opportunity to understand whether or not I can help you get what it is you’re looking for.”

And if you frame it in that way, you effectively presuade the visual, not persuade, presuade the individual, and set up the conditions where they are more than happy to engage with you on a telephone call.

Leverage the power of the telephone call

And the telephone call is crucial. This telephone call is a completely different kind of call than you might be used to having.

Most people are the human counterpart of a website FAQ.

So basically they answer the call and they go, “Okay, hit me with questions and I’ll answer.”

Well, forums can do that. Websites can do that, right? What the person behind the phone is meant to do, that works in your practice, is meant to guide that caller into a relationship with the practice built on understanding, motivation, trust, credibility, guidance, to lead them to the next stage, which is an appointment. That’s what that phone call’s about. And that requires a lot of proactivity and a lot of skill and preparation on the part of the person who’s receiving that phone call.

Laura:
Yeah. What happens is different depending on what kind of practice you actually run. It could be that your next step is, they have actually been on the telephone, convinced to come in and actually buy a service from you. And generally that’s for a lower price point offering.

You could offer a free consultation

It could be that you’re offering a free consultation to provide some information and guidance as to what the next step might be. If it’s a larger surgery thing, usually worth more than sort of £500 to £1,000 and beyond.

So at the consultation, this is another chance to really further that relationship. So you’re really looking to ask some questions, take leadership, show people through your relationship-building process and care that you actually understand what they need and that you’re not going to make them decide what it is that they need and what’s the best medical option for them.

You’re going to take them through a process, ask them questions, and have them come out the other side feeling like, “Okay, these guys know what they’re doing, and yes, this is for me,” or, “No, it’s not,” but you want to clear yes or no.

And so at that consultation, there’s a very systematic process that you want to follow that will help you to get the result that you need, which is hopefully more patients than not saying yes and moving forward.

And what we see is that with a process in place, a practice can have anywhere from sort of typically 40% to 60% of patients saying yes if they aren’t following sort of a formalized process.

After having a process in place, 60% to 80% of people will actually take the next step, which really can double a business often.

Managing the price

Rod:
Transform it. Now another step that you have the opportunity to transform a practice and to grow it exponentially is by managing the price.

So at the end of a meeting, which is the third step, comes the moment where you ask the person to pay. I hope that’s what you’re doing, because it’s absolutely essential that you’ve got to be completely upfront at this stage with, “Here’s what it costs to become involved in getting this solution that we’re recommending.” The way that you not only deliver that, but plan it in context of how you compete is really, really very important.

And there’s no easy answer to the question, “How much should I price my services?” I think that’s the biggest take home on this is that, you really have to look at numerous different aspects in the marketplace.

Number one, you’ve got to think about where are you in the product life cycle? Are you introducing something new? If so, you probably know that new introductions of things that are not easily or widely available are tend to be higher priced.

Are you in the commodity business? Are basically just another me too that does everything that everybody else does in no special way whatsoever? Then you’re in the commodity business, which means that you have to undervalue your services and you have to sell it at the lowest price possible.

I have a sense after speaking to consultants over the last 20 years which one you’d rather be in. Would you rather be working really hard for a low price per hour or per treatment, or would you rather work a little bit less and charge what you’re actually worth?

And that gets back to this whole idea of growing the practice that you love, but also the life that you love, because we encounter so many people in this business who are working to the bone because they’re underpricing their services.

That’s probably the number one reason why they’re working harder than they otherwise could be if they only value their services at not just what it costs to deliver, but the amount of value that patients actually put on it.

And that takes a lot of courage and a lot of knowledge, and also the ability to deliver a close, because when you’re selling something at a low price, well, the price sells itself. When you’re offering something at a high price, all of a sudden, now you have to demonstrate value. And that’s just another way of saying you have got to sell.

Laura:
Finally, to sort of wrap up the whole marketing process, at the end of all of your efforts and work in actually building up a lead and then getting that lead to come through your telephone call and then having a fantastic consultation with them, being able to close them, pricing things right, at the end of the day, you’re doing all of this and you really want to lower your cost of acquisition by getting referrals because then at that point, you’ve paid money for that first sort of batch of people to come through your practice, but you want to deliver so well that you start to get free patients come through the door because you’ve done such a fantastic job. So service ends up being that final, pivotal, essential element of running a successful practice.

And there’s a few things that go into that. There’s the obvious kind of check boxes that most practices have, but that’s not what we’re talking here. We’re not talking about good or even great customer service.

NOTE: The best way to answer that nagging question about practice growth or marketing or patient volume in the back of your mind is to book a free 15-minute compatibility call. Get some options and go away with a clear idea of what’s possible.

Practice remarkable customer service so that you can generate referrals

Rod:
Not anymore.

Laura:
No, it needs to be remarkable. It needs to make somebody say something to somebody else because that’s when you start to get people putting things on social media. That’s when people tell 10 friends about your fantastic service.

So there’s that, again, systemized things you can put in place that make people feel cared for, that really up the bar, whether it’s a car service… We have clinics that offer chocolates and a massage before surgery. And there’s actually scientific proof that back up why they do that. So it has to be integrated. It can’t be something cheesy.

But if you actually put real thought into creating an actual pathway through your practice where you create exceptional service, that decreases your cost per marketing over time and help to you become a more profitable practice.

Rod:
A lot of people don’t understand that marketing also includes service. Right?

Marketing isn’t just about getting the bums on seats. You got to keep them warm while they’re there.

And the absolutely essential thing to remember is that you’re not competing with the doctor or the consultant down the road. What we are competing with is the five-star hotel. Who you’re competing with is the premier, first class service on the airplane. Who you’re competing with are the best customer service experiences that most people now take as a given when they’re spending something like four figures.

So if you’re in that ballpark, if you’re in that range of pricing, you’ve got to not only deliver what you think you are offering the patient in terms of a medical service, you are delivering an experience, and experiences need to be planned in order to go well.

Just think about the last time you planned your anniversary, right? You’ve got to really, really consider how is this all going to go down. And you got to plan it. You got to put people through it and you got to survey. “Are we doing the job that we promised we do? Are we being remarkable? And how likely are you to refer somebody to somebody else, somebody you care about, to come to my practice and so that I can help them too?” And that’s the essential answer to the question, “Am I in this business to do good?” Right?

Laura:
Mm-hmm.

Here are the 5 steps:

Rod:
Because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re all here for. We’re here to serve patients. And if you don’t put that at the front and center of every single thing you do, then your business is going to be really good at generating traffic, but then it’s going to dissipate. That effort is just going to unfortunately seep out and not translate into the profits that you need in order to manage your business properly and grow it.

Laura:
You need a firm foundation of who you are, and then use that to attract leads at your practice.

Rod:
That’s step zero.

Step 1 – Get leads

Laura:
Well, yes, it is step zero. But I’ll wrap it into step one because you have to do something with that firm foundation, which is the next step. Most people take that with skipping that firm foundation. So you need to create people who are coming into your practice. Otherwise, you’re nowhere.

Step 2 – Offer free appointments

Then what you need to do is convince that person who’s sent you an inquiry to come in-

Rod:
That’s step two.

Laura:
So they talk to you. So get your telephone/email management systems in place.

Step 3 – Deliver a world-class consultation

Then you need a system for “What do I do with them at the consultation? How do I guide them through the process so that they feel like a hero and that they feel like they’re getting what they want, they’re getting the transformation that they want?”

Rod:
That’s step three.

Step 4 – Get good at asking for money

Laura:
Then you need to have a price point that matches what their expectations are that you’ve built up and sits well in the marketplace so that you’ve really thought that through.

Rod:
Step four.

Step 5 – Get ratings, reviews, and referrals

Laura:
Yep. And then finally, you need to have a system that wraps that all up so that basically people are telling everybody that they know how fantastic you are, and that those are the five essential things that you need in place to build a thriving practice today.

NOTE: The best way to answer that nagging question about practice growth or marketing or patient volume in the back of your mind is to book a free 15-minute compatibility call. Get some options and go away with a clear idea of what’s possible.

About the author

LiveseySolar

LiveseySolar’s mission is to double the size of 150 cataract and refractive surgery practices. Using our proven marketing frameworks and deep market knowledge, our customers can predictably and sustainably grow their practices so that they can enjoy a healthy balance between both worlds – a successful private practice and a happy life.

Get your Practice Marketing Score

Take our FREE “Practice Marketing” quiz. Get your score and benchmark yourself to practices around the world.

GET YOUR SCORE

Find articles on:

What our clients say…

“In a matter of weeks, we already saw results with LiveseySolar. Far before we were even finished with our project.”

Erik Chotiner, MD, FACS, Ophthalmologist

“The whole group has been very, very professional. We’re quite early in the stages, but we can see the benefits.”

Dr Nick Mantell , MBChB FRANZCO

“They’re very professional. They know what they’re doing, but they also put us at ease. This helped us to cut through what’s needed to get what we want.”

Mr Praveen Patel, MA (Cantab), MB BChir (Cantab), FRCOphth, MD (Res)

“It’s wonderful to work with an agency that engages on our level and understands our market.”

Dr Anton Van Heerden, MBChB; FRANZCO, Ophthalmologist

Get your Practice Marketing Score

Take our FREE “Practice Marketing” quiz. Get your score and benchmark yourself to practices around the world.

Get your score

Related Posts

Meet our Founders

We’re passionate about helping leaders of high-quality, growth-minded practice owners double their practice revenue

Rod Solar

Founder & Fractional CMO

Rod co-founded LiveseySolar and acts as a Fractional CMO for our customers. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of 10,000 people with vision correction surgery by 2024. To achieve that, he inspires his customers to make confident decisions that will help 50,000 people take the first step towards vision correction.

Read more

LiveseySolar completely transformed the way we were approaching this… We’ve gone from having just the dream of having a practice to having a practice up and running with people making inquiries and booking for procedures… It’s extremely pleasing. We feel lucky we connected with LiveseySolar.

— Dr Matthew Russell, MBChB, FRANZCO, specialist ophthalmic surgeon and founder of VSON and OKKO

Laura Livesey

Founder & CEO

Laura Livesey is the co-founder & CEO of LiveseySolar. She has developed powerful refractive surgery marketing systems that increase patient volumes and profits for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, since 1997.

Read more

Rod and Laura know as much about marketing surgery to patients as I know about performing it. They are an expert in the field of laser eye surgery marketing. They know this industry inside out. I believe that they could help many companies in a variety of areas including marketing materials, sales training and marketing support for doctors.

— Prof. Dan Reinstein, MD MA FRSC DABO, founder of the London Vision Clinic, UK