How do I grow my practice, in the age of online marketing & corporate chains?
Good work was enough in good old days. Word of mouth used to spread (and remain in the ears of people for years!), “family doctor” and “family dentist” were everyday phrases, the growth path of a practice was quite predictable. Good work was the key.
Welcome to 21st century, decade 2.
Focus has shifted to online marketing, social media buzz, big corporate chains, online ratings of doctors, soft skills, practice management skills etc., The speed with which these changes came about has caught most practitioners unawares. Most practitioners still consider social media a waste of time. At a recent gathering of about 70 dentists, I asked how many had a Facebook page for the clinic. Just two raised their hand!
Corporate chains and online rating of practitioners – both have worked towards commoditization of medical work. Chains promise you similar quality of work independent of the practitioner…just as Pizza chains promise the same taste independent of the chef at a particular outlet! Online rating sites let patients rate the doctors just the way they rate mobile phones or restaurants. You see the shift? From ‘God-like’ stature to a rateable commodity! Just imagine – rating of Gods next… “How well did God fulfil your wishes?” 😉
Good work is still the key, but not enough anymore.
You need few more keys….
Not only do good work but also ensure it gets known to a good number of people.
Not only work with your unique instinct and skills but also use technology/methodology.
Not only deliver quality but also build a systematic consistency & scalability in repeat-work.
All of this, without diluting the ‘noble’ aura of your work. No matter what the hype makes you believe, a doctor’s work can never be commoditized.
So again back to the question, “How do I grow my practice?”
1. Your instinct and skills are still the most important factors – continue enriching those.
2. Latest equipment, material, and knowledge are important – continue updating those.
3. Your staff are your extension – nurture and respect them.
4. Social media is the live version of hoarding of your practice – keep it buzzing and smiling
You may also think of Practice Management Software
Software is the nervous system of your practice – Get something
that not only records info but also gives you insights to grow your practice
brings important/actionable info to you, rather than you having to dig for it
adapts to your ways, not vice-versa
helps you automate whatever that can be automated
does NOT bundle you with other practitioners in the area
does NOT facilitate reducing your work to a rateable commodity
helps you gain new patients WITHOUT stealing your existing ones
connects your staff, consultants, patients, vendors, social media in ways that benefit your practice