Monday, November 24, 2008

ZOOM! is like Crack!

OK, I admit that, like many consumers, I have dental-phobia. I hate lying helpless with no idea when an unexpected zap of agony will suddenly tear through my tender mucosa before I have a chance to brace myself, my prone position eliminating the potential to jump up and run for the door.

But I work in the aesthetic business and meet aesthetic surgeons, dermatologists and dentists on a regular basis. At 55, I'm working hard to look as young as humanly possible, utilizing all the fillers, lasers and skin treatments I can get my wrinkly hands on! So, by necessity, beauty includes my teeth. I have used those OTC trays and carbamide peroxide. Not a bad result. However, with a new dental client in San Francisco, I decided it was time to sit in a chair for "real" whitening. The results were amazing. I’ve looked in the mirror only about 54 times since I had the procedure.

This isn't about my ZOOM! results but about the fact that I am no longer going to be satisfied with teeth that are less white than I currently have. Like my relationship with Botox and fillers, I'm now an addict. This stuff is like crack--once you have it, ya gotta have it again (not that I know first-hand about crack, that's what I've read). I now have a New Standard for my teeth.

Which brings us to you and building your practice. Remember my blog about finding that some patients only get treatment if they get a discount? They do this because you make it easy to wait for the discount and/or because they aren't "hooked" enough to their new standard to get the treatments at full price. Trust me, they are buying gourmet coffee whether it's discounted or not, and that follows for a host of other expensive things they buy.

I offer up two ideas:

1. Discount a service/product only if it's the first time that patient has had it.

2. Use before/afters to reinforce patients’ New Standard.

Inform your patients that for each new treatment they try, they'll get a steep discount, like 25-40%. Yes, Thi$ $s painful for you, but it's only once per patient per procedure. Every patient will not try every procedure.

Make sure patients leave with copies of their before/afters to reinforce their New Standard. Laminate the pair of before/afters on the back of a business card or a 3 x 5 card (the laminator is $38 if purchased here ). AND—they will come back to have that treatment again because they have a New Standard. Not only will the patients carry their before/afters around with them, they will show them to friends who will then ask for your name and phone number, which is conveniently printed on one side of the laminated before/after set.

Now, of course, not all patients will do this, but many will. And those who do will increase traffic into your office and that means more money in your pocket.

Here's to you,

Friday, November 7, 2008

Holidays are Coming! Don't forget your past patients!

The Holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving is the first one, and it's coming up in just 3 more weeks. What do you have planned to keep your valuable patients coming back?

A doc confessed to me the other day that he sees certain patients for injectables only when he runs a special. This is sad because it suggests to me that this physician is utilizing only
pull technology, ie, running specials to build his business. Specials should be avoided unless they are attached to a particular event, such as:
  • A holiday card, in appreciation for their year of business.
  • A client's birthday (you are sending birthday cards, aren't you?) With the birthday card, I recommend actually giving them something, like a facial, to get them into the office. Then your aesthetician, PA, etc, should cross sell them by pointing out problems in the skin, such as wrinkling that could be addressed by fillers. If they either get the injections that day or pay that day for a future appointment that includes the fillers, they get a discount, like 10%.
  • A bring-a-friend event that gives them % off only if they bring a friend (ie, both they and the friend get $50 off for example).
  • A seminar (that night only; ie, they take the treatment that night or they pay for a future date, but it must be paid that night whether they are injected then or later)
  • Part of a package (example: 2009 Beautiful Face Package that covers the patient's treatments for an entire 12 mos, and for paying in January for the entire year, they get a nice discount (ie, 20% or $1000 off the entire package).
  • Their participation in a media story.
Remember, focus on developing and nurturing trust with your patients so that they come back because you are the best, not the cheapest. People may buy Fords, but lots of folks buy Mercedes. And Mercedes seldom offers a discount.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Easiest Patient Referral Program in the World

Aesthetic practices wrestle with the challenge of patient referral programs. They want to reward patients who bring them more business, but they fear violating their association and/or board's code of ethics. I believe our simple method will pass the test. It's simple to create, simple to administer, and easy to check out with your local ethics folks.

Open a blank word document. Create 2 vertical columns. Both columns will be identical. At the top is your logo, tag line, address, phone, website URL, email address for the office. Hit the "enter" button twice.

Next area is a "note" to the referring patient expressing your appreciation for patronizing your practice and thanking them in advance for sending you their friends and family members for treatments. Explain that if they complete the 2 cards below and share them with others, that when their referral comes in for a treatment, they and the new patient will each receive a $50 discount--the new patient receives $50 off his/her first treatment, and the current patient gets a $50 credit toward his/her next one. Hit "enter" twice.

Beneath the 2 areas at the top, create 2-3 sections with perforated lines between them, so that the printer can create tear-off cards. Each card has your office info (so the referred patient has your name, address, etc) and a line for the current patient to write his/her name and another line for the name of the referred (new) patient. Be sure to note again that each one enjoys a $50 discount from your practice. In 8 pt type put in an * to state that this card can be used only once by each new patient.

Duplicate the left column onto the right column.
Depending on the size of your logo, name, tag line, etc, you may end up with either 2 or 3 referral cards. Email as an attachment to your printer and tell them to print these on post-card weight paper, and to create perforations at the appropriate spots to make it easy to tear off the referral cards. Print a gazillion of these and place in brochure stands in the reception area, on the side tables in the waiting areas and in the exam rooms. If you want to be really fancy, attach them to 2-3 brochures, so when the current patient gives them away, the new patient has a brochure to go with the card.

That's it. Easy. No difficult computer skills needed here. Easy to administer when the patients come in. If the front desk is too busy to record the referral to the proper referring patient's file during the day, just put a box or small bowl in the receptionist's area into which the receptionist places each "used" referrer card. When she has time she takes the cards out of the box and enters the information either in each patient's computer file or on a separate spreadsheet for easy access when the referring patient comes in to "collect" on his/her $50 discounts. Naturally, when the new patient checks in, the receptionist must make a note on the file so that when s/he checks out, the $50 discount is applied.

There are many ways to do referral rewards. This is just one of them. I'm eager to hear from readers as to other ideas they may have.

As always, to your success,