By QUINTIN L. GUNN SR.
Being a student of your practice is better than being an owner? Why do you ask?
So often practice owners get bogged down in the day to day task of running the business and end up losing sight of what's really happening with their practice profits, growth opportunities, and community outreach.
What are the signs of the Owner Practice versus the Student Practice?
The Owner Practice:
- An Owner Practice is bogged down in daily process and procedures related to treatments administrative protocol, and management of their staff
- The Owner Practice will tend to hyper-focus on the way things have been done in the past, and or be unwilling to transition to the new realities of patient care, technologies, new communication tools or treatment pathways.....Basically stuck in the way things used to be, versus the way things work today, not open to change
- They give their staff very little authority or room to make decisions, which slows down patient interaction and practice growth. They must be in charge...
- They micromanage employees time, task, and work processes, which basically means they don't trust the staff which they've hired or don't feel the staff is competent enough to do the job as they would do it
- They are not flexible or willing to try new products or services, while their competition down the street gains more and more market share and new patients. So, they end up blaming their staff for failures or financial losses
- They rarely have in office special patient events or celebratory staff events for monthly goals being met or accomplished.
- Rarely does a Doctor Practice attend any local or social community events because perceived lack of value and time limitations
- They rarely or inconsistently publish monthly or quarterly practice newsletters or even write a practice blog about successful treatment outcomes and why they love what they do in their chosen profession.
- When they have a great year or month, they tend to be thankless toward their staff or team members who helped them reach those goals. Never offering a bonus or incentive program. In fact, some don't even give staff raises as a way to show appreciation for a job well done. And likely because they don't value the employee-customer connection. Everything from their perspective is about them and their lifestyle.
- The Doctor Practice relies heavily on discount promotions, specials or even Groupon to drive in new clients. And while they may get many initial consults or a one-time treatment from the specials that are offered. Many patient prospects do not return and their average cost per patient transaction ends up very low. Discounting is a bad idea if it is part of your practice marketing plan.
We unfortunately, label those types of Doctor Practices: The Walking Dead, because usually, they have a high staff turnover rate and not many old clients who will return. They are the one and done type practice groups who usually have a very low customer revisit rate. Patient prospects rarely return due to the bad energy and tension surrounding this type of Doctor Practice.
However, on the other hand, we have the Student Practice. Which is often seen thriving even when there is extreme competition!
How is the Student Practice different than the Doctor Practice?
- The staff energy and customer interaction are very positive because it is patient driven and patient-focused. In most cases, the staff knows the patients by name and knows some personal detail or event that is important to their clients
- The Student Practice not only does a monthly newsletter, but the doctor enjoys writing Blogs as it's his or her way of letting patients know how much they enjoy taking care of patient needs. Along with that, a Student Practice is not afraid of patient feedback. In fact, the Student Practice continually seeks patient feedback via surveys, patient recommendations, as well as elicits staff feedback.
- The Student Practice has quarterly patient events where they can talk to happy patients and find out what's going on and get suggestions about products and services. They utilize a Patient Loyalty program and consistently track how often it gets used by monthly reports. They look for patient activity trends.
- A Student Practice conducts monthly staff meetings that open the dialogue to identifying problems in process or procedures but also talks about products, services, equipment, and treatment pathways. The Student Practices is always seeking knowledge and looking for areas of improvement.
- The Student Practice, makes a personal investment in their staff, ensuring that they stay up on the latest trends via continuing education, events within the community and encourages the staff to review various industry journals like MedEsthetics, online and social blogs like Aesthetic Everything, Cosmetic Surgery Times, New Beauty etc. And additionally, they have a bonus or some type of incentive program that motivates the practice and individuals in the practice to reach a monthly or quarterly goal via secondary product offerings or upsells to new treatments.
- The Student Practice creates an environment where continuing education and understanding of the aesthetic industry stays top of mind for himself or herself as well as their staff. These activities demonstrate that they are more than just a practitioner but in fact, remain an avid student of practice development who is progressive and able to adapt to the new products, services, and laser light source technologies which can have a direct impact on practice revenue.
- A Student Practice is curious about marketing. What are the latest and most effective ways to communicate with both current and potential new customers? Is it social media, is it mailers, is it newsletters, blogs or mobile phone text messaging? How well is the practice website working on attracting new patients? Is it time to upgrade the practice website, is the practice website mobile ready? Are the social media links connected to the website at the header of the website? Is there a call to action on every page with a contact form?
- A Student Practice becomes part of their local community where he or she lives. They become an active and available resource for their local news organizations
- The Student Practice has monthly newsletters which keep their patients up to date on the new things the doctor, staff, or practice is learning or doing to make their patient experience better.
- They have a higher dollar per transaction per client because they've created a Patient Care Plan for each client and keep up with their repeat customers via loyalty programs, which in turn raises the average dollar per transaction by per client!
- Lastly, the Student Practice uses social media to help solidify their brand awareness
In the end, many of the Owner Practice habits are a necessary requirement for practice operations. But practice Growth and Prosperity are tied to the Student Practice mentality.
Being open, being positive, trusting your staff, making sure that your staff is current on all new treatments and technology with continuing education, being a part of the community, looking for new and improved ways to doing things, and encouraging your staff to have that same mentality. This will lead to a much more sustained growth pattern even when there's a lot of competition.
It will prevent you from falling behind your competition and losing market share to the new kids on the block.
By making your practice a place where both customers and potential employees want to come for services and to work. You will build a legacy, one that you will be proud to put your name! A place where those with great skills and curious minds want to come.
Being more of a Student Practice than a Doctor Practice. You'll create excitement, anticipation, and curiosity with word of mouth in the community surrounding your practice. You'll become a driver instead of a follower for consumers to walk into your door because you use the latest technology for treatments and patient communication.