ABCs of Practice Retention

You may have heard the story of the man who dreamed of riches. He sold his beautiful home and farm, which had a pristine river running through, and took the equity off to invest in the world to make his fortune. Sadly, he lost it all in failed get-rich-quick schemes, and lived the rest of his life in poverty. The purchaser who bought the farmer’s land found glistening stones in the pristine river. These stones turn out to be diamonds! Indeed, the man who dreamed of riches yet died tragically needed only to look in his own back yard to find wealth.

Do you, like the man in the story, constantly look “out there” for more business, when in fact you may be missing the diamonds? Your diamond mine can be found by cultivating your existing business and adding more value.

Start here. Sit down with a printout of the contacts in your practice database and assign a value to each name.  The most valuable contacts are assigned an “A”.  A’s are people who have referred at least one other person to your business. Write a “B” beside the names of people who come frequently for treatment – at least 10 or more times a year. People who come infrequently for treatment – less than 10 times a year – are assigned a “C”. “Q” is assigned to patients/clients you haven’t seen in years, or are deceased

Your retention goal is to turn “B”s (frequent patients/clients) into “A”s (referral sources), and “C”s (infrequent patients/clients) into “B”s. To keep the “A”s referring, value them highly and reward them well!

Consider the following strategies towards your end goal. Add value to all your treatment visits. Make people feel well cared for, and clearly show your interest in them. Provide a small bag of Epsom salts to every new patient/client on their first visit. Customer relation studies show that receiving a small gift, even an inexpensive pen, establishes a stronger bond with a new or potential customer.

Provide useful information via a quarterly newsletter – for example, when to use hot or cold to treat an injury. List causes and possible remedies of common musculoskeletal problems such as back pain, TMJ dysfunction and carpal tunnel syndrome.  Your advice will instill in your clients or patients confidence in your knowledge and ability, make these conditions less frightful and give hope of relief.

Confirm all appointments the day before (almost everyone appreciates a reminder) and follow-up if a normally frequent patient/client has not been in for a while. Pay attention to the interests of your patients/clients, and if you find an article she/he might enjoy, pass it on or refer them to the source.

Send a thank-you card for every referral, and consider more substantial gifts for people who refer often. You might provide a vial of Olbas Oil or muscle liniment, an extra 15 minutes of treatment, or some other small expression of gratitude.

Referral sources save you a tremendous amount of time and money by revealing their faith and confidence in you to other people. It pays to show appreciation for that confidence. This is not “buying” someone’s favour or some type of kickback…that would be abusing the practitioner/patient relationship dynamic. There’s no “if you give me this, I’ll give you that” solicitation in this gesture, just simply a token of appreciation that says “Thank you for supporting my business.”

Don’t forget to ask for more business! Give a few business cards to everyone following the successful completion of their treatment plan (when their confidence in you in the highest) and say, “I have room for a few new patients. Please pass this card onto someone who might benefit from care as much as you have.”  People like to be helpful, so recruit them to help you help more people!  Remember the ABCs of retention, and you’ll discover a diamond mine right in your own back yard.

– from the book Massage Therapist Practice: Start, Sustain, Succeed!

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