Slow Summer Solution: 8 Ways to Fill Your Waiting Room this Summer

Posted in Business Practices, Miller Public Relations | June 23,2015

**RINGGGGG RINGGGGGG**

The final school bell for the summer has sounded. Children and teens are home, vacations have started, and the distractions have begun.

You know what I’m talking about. All the summer activities, adventures and money spending that are keeping your patients (new and old) from booking appointments are underway.

Don’t sit back and wait for the phone to ring. A lull in volume over the summer must be addressed in a proactive manner.

So let’s gear up! Here are 8 ideas you can start using today to get more patients in the door this summer season (and every other season, too!)

Waiting Area of Emergency Room

1. Find a reason to get people in the door

Once people physically enter your office, the likelihood they will convert to patients immediately increases. You’ve seen it time and time again.

So give a creative reason to get people in the door.

Example – Give away tickets to a local water park or sports event, but people (potential patients) must come to your office to pick them up. (You may even be able to get these types of tickets at no cost for helping promote the venue)

Another example – Give away safety goggles for 4th of July fireworks. Again, they are free, but people must pick them up at your office.

At the very least, you’ll have more people coming through your office and meeting your team. They’ll appreciate you for the giveaway and mention you to their friends.

At most, someone will come in, and you will have a chance to talk shop and book a consult that turns into a treatment or procedure.

Either way, it’s great local PR and a win for you.

2. Re-engage old leads

Not everyone who calls you turns into a patient. So by this point, you should have a database of contact info and emails (you are gathering emails, right?) from people who have expressed interest in your services but have not become actual patients. Re-engage these leads using what I call the engagement “Triple Threat” to recover a portion of these leads and turn them into patients.

  • Call them – Tell them you thought they might benefit from the summer promo you just launched.
  • Email them – Follow-up with email about the summer promo.
  • Facebook retarget them – Create a custom audience of non-converts in Facebook, then serve them ads on your summer promo.

Using these 3 channels makes it almost magical that your non-converted leads are exposed to your offer in multiple ways.

3. Don’t stop marketing

Some “experts” will tell you to stop marketing during your slower season. “Save the money for your hotter times of the year,” they’ll say. Here’s the problem:

You may stop marketing, but people don’t stop living their daily lives. Just because people are less inclined to call during the summer, doesn’t mean they aren’t watching TV, surfing Facebook or listening to the radio/Pandora.

For every day that you aren’t front and center, one of your competitors is gaining mindshare in your niche. You cannot let that happen. Keep a healthy marketing budget in place through the summer to drive leads and maintain a stranglehold on your market.

You’ll be that much further ahead come fall when the market picks up and your competitors – the ones who chose to go silent over the summer – are trying to play catch-up with you.

Five people waiting in waiting room

4. Start an e-newsletter

While e-newsletters may not be the latest revolution in digital marketing, they’re actually a great way to connect with current patients and leads that have yet to become patients.

E-newsletters allow you to add value and stay top-of-mind for both of these groups. This is important for creating more referrals, especially in these slower summer months.

An e-newsletter doesn’t have to be an elaborate undertaking. A good formula is as follows:

  1. One feature article – something seasonal and timely (protecting your skin from cancer, getting swimsuit ready, keeping your eyes safe from UV harm, etc)
  2. One special offer – Discount on a procedure or treatment (or package of treatments)
  3. Call to action – click or call now to set up your appointment

OPTIONAL

Patient Profile – Showcase one happy patient’s story and how you helped change his/her life for the better

5. Cross-market with another practice

Perhaps you’re an ophthalmologist who is friends with Dr. X, a cosmetic surgeon across town. You can easily email your patients to let them know about a special summer promotion happening at X Cosmetic Surgery.

Conversely, Dr. X can make the same kind of announcement to his patients about your special promo.

Two important notes:

A. You cannot monetarily compensate another practice for these referrals as this could be viewed as a violation of state board kickback rules. (Be sure to include a small disclaimer on the email you send.)

B. You obviously cannot give your list of patients to another practice to send the email message directly. (This would violate HIPAA.) You must send the offer to your own patients and vice versa.

6. Attend health fairs

Large corporations in your area typically have at least one type of health fair per year, and they want to make sure all health specialties are represented. This is where you come in!

Have a team member call the HR departments at all the major corporations in your area and ask about dates and details for upcoming health fairs. Tell them you would be happy to send a team to work a booth and discuss your particular specialty. Be sure to get information on average attendance, demographic of attendees and whether you can do some type of giveaway. This will help you decide if the health fair is worth your time.

Then schedule the health fairs into your promotional calendar for the year.

Make sure you have a nice booth set up with signs, table toppers, giveaway items and even an area to perform quick screenings if possible. And be SURE you have the capability of booking appointments with attendees at the health fair!

7. Cross-sell patients who are already in the office

Every patient on your schedule today represents an opportunity for a cross-sell or upsell.

Examples:

OPHTHAL – A person coming in for a routine eye exam is likely a candidate for LASIK.

COSMETIC – Someone having a medspa treatment may be interested in a package deal with your injectables.

These are two of hundreds of examples that are easy to miss if you don’t have someone trained to look for these opportunities. This is a major area of focus when we train a practice staff – how to identify opportunities to increase per-patient revenue. It’s a huge leverage point for your practice that cannot be overlooked.

Identify upsell opportunities and take advantage of them.

8. Start a Patient Referral Program

The patient referral program is a great way to reward your patients who refer friends, family and coworkers to you.

Simply put – any time one of your patients refers a new patient to you, he or she should receive a thank-you note and gift – gas card, Amazon gift card, etc.

A $25 gas card is a small price to pay for a new patient, not to mention it reinforces positive behavior (the referral), increasing the likelihood it will happen again.

Like I mentioned in tactic #5, you don’t want to get into a sticky area by creating the perception that you’re paying for referrals. We have a unique way to protect against this, which I will not write about here. But you can contact me directly for an outline of how we do this to protect our clients while still taking full advantage of a patient referral system.

In Conclusion

There you are! Eight ideas to boost your procedure schedule this summer. I recommend choosing your three favorite ideas and begin implementation as soon as possible.

And remember, we implement these types of promotions everyday for our clients. We’re happy to help you too. Email Troy at troy@millerpublicrelations.com, or call (817) 281-3440 to discuss how we can work with your team to implement these strategies.