Step 3 of building a profitable healthcare practice – Meet
And then, we move into step three. So, the patient calls and books. Now they’re coming in. This step will differ depending on what people are looking for.
So let’s start with somebody coming in. They’re not ready to pay for surgery or treatment yet. The patient is coming in for an initial consultation. Often it’s free or for a meagre value. Something we call a tripwire, which is an exchange of value, high-value for a light cost or some time.
So this is somebody who’s invested. The prospect wouldn’t be here before you if they weren’t interested and seriously considering it. And so, what you need to do is excite them at this appointment to become a patient or not want to become a patient.
And let me explain. We want a clear yes or no because we’re not hammering someone into something they don’t want. So we’re very, very clear on that.
This process that we’re talking about at the initial appointment is elegant and very suited for medicine. And it’s set up to guide somebody through a process, so they feel better after they left the appointment, even if they said “no” than when they came in, because you’ve helped them make a decision.
So really, we’re asking questions. We’re taking a leadership role at the consultation. We’re doing our assessments and everything we need to do medically, but this is a highly psychologically important process and consultation for the patient. And we need to address their emotional needs primarily. And that may sound a little bit odd and maybe shocking for some, but we need to highly consider what they’re thinking and what they’re going through at that appointment if we want to have a very successful practice and grow that practice.
Because this appointment introduces them to your practice, what is the level of quality? So does the level of customer service match the level of medical quality? That’s critical.
And it’s also introducing the type of people you’re going to be interacting with, if there is a lot of follow up, and a lot of medical procedures have one day, three days, one-month, and annual checkups. So you’re going to get into a relationship with somebody. And so, really at this stage, we’re cementing that relationship and saying, yeah, I like you. We can do business together. We can hang out together. We can spend time together and enjoy that process.
And hopefully, that’s the decision they make. And they say “yes”, but on the flip side, they might have the opposite reaction, and maybe they’re not suitable for you. And you want to know that you don’t want those patients. Those are the patients that’ll be the headaches, the hassles, even the legal risk down the road. So we want to run this tightly to get a yes or a no answer. So that is step 3.
Absolutely. The key underscore I need to make under step three is you have to have what we call either a patient advisor or a counsellor, or a liaison.
It doesn’t matter what you call them as long as the patient feels like that role is for them. And that person needs to be able to facilitate and concierge the patient through the pathway.
So the path has to be organized and scripted. And I don’t mean having people specifically say specific things, but rather, we need to know where along a pathway we go and who sees whom at what level.
And we need to progressively hand over the patient from one person to another so that they feel like they have one constant touchpoint throughout the service.
And it’s super important that the patient liaison sees that patient before (at the very beginning, right after reception) and understands their motivations. And the liaison must understand what the patient is looking for so that they can end the consultation by asking them for the next step (payment and a deposit to move to treatment).
If they only show up at the end, they look like bill collectors. So they have to be there to make a relationship with the patient to organize themselves around the patient’s journey to come to them from a position of trust.
Step 4 of building a profitable healthcare practice – Price
Great. So one of the things that most people think is the most important thing is not the essential item in the making a decision, which is price.
So you’ve got anxiety around price. I think almost everyone does. “How much should I charge? Should I raise my prices? Is that going to make everyone go away? I assume they’re going down the road to these other two competitors because they charge £100 less than I do.”
So, where does price sit in this as step four? What do you think, or what is the essential thing I should say that people need to know about pricing their services?
The number one thing that people need to know about pricing is that it’s not about pricing. The pricing is all about; really, it’s something objective that people can talk about, which is one of the reasons why most people, when they call a practice, say, “how much does it cost?” Because most patients don’t have anything else on which to base –
That’s all they know to ask.
They can’t look at your CV.
They have no idea.
And often, they’re not that interested in your CV. Instead, they’re most interested in “What will you do for me?
“How will you get me to the state that I need to go to?”
And sometimes, they’re not even wholly crystallized on what that state is. So you have to help them do that.
But pricing is just a language that we can all use to estimate value. Still, instead of allowing price to dictate how people value what we offer, I would instead provide as much value as possible so that we can then associate a price that is justifiable from that value.
So with price, of course, you’ve got to think about your competitors. You’ve got to think about what people can afford. You have to think about ensuring that you have sufficient money to pay for what it costs to deliver your service and leave something aside for operating expenses and additional variable expenses and retain some profit. So all of these things matter in pricing.
However, with that said, it’s imperative to consider “the value that I provide and how I will price it according to that value?”
So take an example. If you conceptualize the value of what you offer, the patient is going to walk in with glasses on, and I’m a laser eye surgeon, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to lay you on a bed after we do about an hour and a half or three hours of tests. I will lay you on the bed, and then I will do a treatment that takes 15 minutes. I’m going to treat your eyes, laser them, then suddenly, you get up off the bed and see. Fantastic. Then I’ll see you for maybe about another hour and a half over a prolonged period in aftercare. You sum all that up, and you say that’s about seven hours of service, six hours of service.
Is that how you’re going to price your offering? No.
What you need to do is you need to think,
- What kind of change am I making for this patient?
- Where are they before?
- And where do they want to go after surgery?
- How much am I changing their life?
Because the distance between where are you find them before and where you take them after is how you can define the value of your service.
The longer the distance, the bigger the value. So, therefore, it’s entirely possible to charge very high amounts as long as the patient perceives there’s value. That is not a sham; it’s not a trick; it’s enabling you to provide the very best service you can, which patients want.
And sometimes, that fits your avatar. We often use, with very, very high-end offerings and consultants. We use the words reassuringly expensive because occasionally if somebody runs into a clinic that is excellent, really world-class, but they’re pricing mid-market. People think, “Oh, what’s wrong here? There must be something wrong. It doesn’t make any sense. Why are they cheaper than these other guys that seem to be not offering the same service?”
So it is, you need to look at the competition, but that’s not the only thing. You need to look at the market you’re in. You need to look at the avatars you’re going after. The other thing I would say about price is you also need to look at how you distribute the price, and psychologically speaking, do you have one fee upfront, or do you look at financing?
Financing is something that people often overlook, especially with a lower-priced offering, like chiropractic or something like that, where an individual offering or day, if you’re coming in for a session, I should say is 70 quid or something like that. So somebody’s coming in; they’re getting that.
But if you look at the value of that customer to you over one year or two years, you can start to think, okay, this person doesn’t need one session. And if this is true for you, I want you to look at this. But, on the other hand, if they genuinely want to get well and need ten sessions or 15 sessions, you should be offering them if you think about providing them with the best solution to their problem. And so then financing can be something that you could use for that.
So if you have a £4,000, £5,000 procedure, that’s a no brainer, but we find a 20 to 30% increase in uptake if you have a financing option. So looking at splitting up a price may sound very “salesy”. But, still, you’re offering people who otherwise may not be able to get in the ring and get what they want, to be able to do business with you and happily so.
Yeah. And the final point about pricing is that the number one reason consultants in private practice overwork and abandon all the things that made them happy apart from their practice is undercharging.
So they’re in a position of their own making that they to work so hard to generate the money that’s sufficient to fund the practise because they’re underpricing, that they lose all ability to enjoy their lives. That leads to burnout, which leads to the erosion of the reason you got into practice in the first place, which is usually to get a better life.
So don’t look at the price. The moral of the story is don’t look at price as a barrier. Look at it as something you need to consider in terms of value. So don’t be so afraid of cost; build up the value instead.
Step 5 of building a profitable healthcare practice – Serve
And that leads us to step five, a fantastic value-building service you offer at every step – every customer touchpoint. So whether that’s the website, even the ad that you put up, high-quality across the board ads, website, initial phone call, consultation, premises, everything that you do, anything that somebody touches or sees, the loos, everything has to be at the level of service that you’ve advertised.
And it has to be at the expectation level of the avatar that you’re trying to go after. I’m not saying everything needs to be extraordinarily posh and four or five stars. That might not be what your avatar wants. And that might not be what you are after. So, that’s fine.
But it has to suit the feeling that you’re trying to create in the mind of your avatar. So service is critical when reducing your cost per lead. Why do I say that?
Because you are marketing, you’ve spent money on everybody that rings or emails you. You pay for traffic online, build a website, and do everything you do.
So you can break it down into a cost per lead. Now, if you start to up your service game and you can look at, there’s a cost to that and offering lovely refreshments and giving people excellent coffee and all that kind of thing, you have a cost for that. But if you start to do that, you need to market the same, or even less, because you will create what we call remarkable service. Remarkable. People are making remarks. They’re telling people.
And the better your service is across the board and it’s scripted, and you have a process for it, the more referrals you’re going to get, and the more promotion that’s going to happen on your behalf, essentially for free.
So, it’s coming off the back of a lot of hard work and many systems, but you are creating an environment where you can reduce your cost per lead. And that is a factor that’s making your patients happy obviously, but making you very happy. So it’s a very virtuous cycle.
And remember to surprise people consistently throughout the journey. A lot of people think that marketing is all about making promises. The reality is under-promising and then over-delivering. And I think that what you want always to be conscious of is that service is a massive part of marketing. Marketing is not just about getting bums on seats; it’s about keeping them warm while they’re there.
And critically, you need to be able to offer built-in surprises, no surprises to you. But, of course, you’ve planned them well out in advance. Built-in surprises delight and excite customers along the way so that you trigger those folks who are going to go out there and tell the world about you.
Every single practice will have what we refer to as “raving fans”. And those raving fans will go around and talk to other people about what you did.
And I mean, that’s a fantastic thing to have because the more of those folks you have, as Laura said, the more free marketing you will receive from your patients, which reduces your need to invest as much money as you already do on marketing. So that brings us full circle back to marketing.
And I hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion today about how to grow a profitable healthcare practice using these five essential steps.
Step one is to market. But before that, you’ve got to figure out “who am I? Who is my ideal customer? And where do we intersect?” So that then you can find them online, via marketing.
How do you deal with them when they first inquire? How do you turn that? How much does it cost for somebody who’s making a booking? That’s step two, call.
Step three is once they’ve made the booking, you’re meeting with them at a consultation. So how do you turn that consultation into a yes or a no, a clear yes or a no? Hopefully, yes. As a reference point, 40 to 60% of initial consultations turn into a yes if you don’t have a system in place. If you have a plan in place, 60 to 80% of initial consultations usually become actual patients. So that’s a huge lever for you. And I should say as well at the call stage; it’s very similar. If you have a process in the call, you’ll get 15 to 25% of people who call you to book a consultation. If you have a strategy, you’ll often get 50 to upwards. We’ve seen boutique, independent clinics get 80% on the telephone, which is unreal, but it’s possible if you have a particular setup. So these figures are exciting.
So going back though, step three, meeting. So you want to get that initial consult working out for you and turn people into patients.
Step four, get your pricing sorted out, figure out why you’re pricing, how you’re pricing, doe it suit the market? Does it fit the patient? Do you have financing in place?
And then step five is to serve people in a way that creates remarks that is remarkable so that you can grow the thriving practice that we know that you all want.