I’m sure you remember how busy you were getting ready for the open; you had a long list of things to check off.
And if you’re about to start your practice, you’ll see for yourself. There’s too much to do, with not enough time to get it all done.
New practice owners primarily focus on the clinic details, at times at the expense of marketing. And when they finally open the doors, some lack the essential ingredient… patients.
While some NPs start with a full day of patients from day one, others see only a few patients for weeks, or worse, none at all.
Over the years, we’ve heard from several NPs that had difficulties attracting patients to their practice. Some even wondered if, and how long they’d be able to keep their doors open.
Why The Difference?
How is this possible; why such a difference?
First let me say this: individual circumstances vary. Every NP who opens a new practice faces unique challenges.
- Some NPs find clinic space for a reasonable amount; others are in markets with high rents across the board.
- Some have lived in a community for years and know everybody, while others are new in town and hardly know a soul.
- Some NPs don’t do any marketing, or very little at all, while others must aggressively market their practice to get established.
- Some NPs work in a clinic and take it over after the owner retires or wants to do something else.
No two NPs deal with the same set of circumstances when opening their practice. You’d be hard pressed to make a comparison because it would be like comparing apples to oranges.
However, considering some NPs have difficulties getting patients for their practice, it makes sense to start marketing early on.
And even though some don’t do much marketing, I believe marketing is not something you want to neglect, particularly when starting.
When To Start?
The question is, when should you start to market your new office, and what should you do?
My answer to the first question… as soon as possible, but not too soon!
A suitable timeframe to start marketing your office is about six weeks before you have the grand opening for your practice.
If you start to market too far in advance, people will forget, and you lose the element of “new.” Don’t underestimate the power of curiosity and new!
Make sure you allow yourself enough time! Because if you don’t have enough time, you won’t be able to send multiple follow-ups to the organizations you want to contact.
But of course, you can’t start to market your new practice until you have nailed down a few details.
Before you can start, you must know the following:
- The clinic address
- The phone number
- The clinic website
- Date and time of opening
And once you have specifics, you’re all set to announce your clinic to the world!
On a side note…
Marketing your practice is not to be confused with getting credentialed with insurance companies, which in all likeliness will take more than six weeks. So, getting credentialed is something you want to start well ahead of opening time.
How To Market?
Now, how will you let your community know you’re about to open your practice?
Whatever you do, keep it simple. Pick a few marketing methods, do them well, and consistently, and you’re good to go!
Here are a few suggestions:
- Celebrate your new practice with a grand opening; balloons, flowers, nice music; perhaps a cake and some beverages.
- Print up flyers and distribute them to the offices and businesses around your new office. Be sure to include an invitation to your grand opening!
- Here’s a tip: people remember you better when you hand them a bag of M & Ms, or something like it, along with the flyer! Even though we know it’s “bad’ for us, most of us still like it!
- Send letters of introduction to other providers, local hospitals, and social service agencies in your community. If appropriate, send letters to employers, letting them know you do, for example, pre-employment physicals, etc.
- Send letters not just once! If you send the first mailing six weeks before practice opening, repeat the mailing at least three to four more times. While sad, the majority of the first mailing is likely to end up in the trash. By mailing multiple times, hopefully, your letters will get noticed, read, and remembered.
- Write a press release and forward it to your local paper(s) for publication.
- Depending on the population you work with, put an announcement in your local newspaper (if there still is one in your town!). Many older people still read the daily newspaper.
- Have an advertisement sandwich board made and place it outside your clinic; it will get the attention of people walking by.
- Tell all your friends and family about your grand opening!
These are just a few things you can do to beat the drums for your new practice.
The marketing methods are easy to put together, simple to implement, and don’t cost much. While they don’t guarantee a full practice, they will make attracting patients to your clinic much easier!
We’d love to hear from you… tell us what you think and leave your message below.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.”