Growing Your Client Base Without Adding Staff

Written by Gerriann Fagan, SPHR, SHRM-SCP on May 4, 2018

Growing Your Client Base Without Adding Staff

This article was published first as a post on the VisionAmerica blog, here.

I recently attended the Alabama Medical Group Management Association Meeting in Birmingham. While at our booth, a woman whom I’d known years earlier introduced me to her colleague as, “someone who has always been an advocate for our practice.”

I felt complimented. Wow. Was I an advocate for her medical practice? They provided good medical care for my family and me, but I wondered what I did and what they did that made her feel that I was their advocate.

What They Did

They were interested in me as a person. The Practice Manager got to know about my work and asked me questions about it from time to time. She invited me in to do some work for them and told me when they had openings—if only to get a casual referral.

What I Did

I felt like a human being—not a patient. I learned about their practice and what set them apart so I could tell others. I referred six to seven patients over the years.

What They Did

They gave me treatment options. As is the case in your practice, patients have a choice and want to give input into their care. They may choose from a variety of care options: going all the way with services or doing things over time. They kept up with best practices and shared them.

What I Did

I listened to the advice from the doctor and staff and chose options that worked best for me. I had total confidence that they were looking out for my best interests.

What They Did

For recurring services, the staff got to know me too. One of the nurses had been there for 24 years. She took the time to know the adults and the kids in the practice. She seemed to mentor newer staff.

What I Did

I got to know the staff. I knew who was in school, who was having a baby or grandbaby and who had challenges with their commutes.

What They Did

They got that I had a job too. Not everyone can see you within a limited service window (e.g., “We do mammograms on Tuesdays,” or, “The doctor sees patients on Thursdays,” and the like). Especially with recurring services, it is good to have options (e.g., “We stay late on Wednesdays and can meet early by appointment,” or, “We can do X and Y in the same visit”).

What I Did

I felt like they would accommodate me. They had a schedule with options and, with notice, could do things outside the normal schedule.

What They Did

They were consistent. I knew what to expect, and I felt comfortable recommending them to others. They were genuinely nice people.

What I Did

I stayed connected to their e-mails and service updates. Their website was up to date, including changes in schedule and industry bulletins.

What They Did

​They genuinely wanted my feedback. When I had a scheduling issue due to the way that they were routing calls, I was able to share thoughts about how to make it better. Sometimes, the front desk can make all the difference. Training the front line about service questions and creative service options really makes a difference for the patients.

What I Did

​I gave it and offered to help.

I am a student of service. I notice the new patient kiosks and handheld devices for check-in. I notice the Disneyland-like, first-time visitor stickers given to first-time patients and the lollipops and coupons for new medicine. I notice attention given to different patients (e.g., different care is given to the elderly, children and adults; they have different needs—maybe even differently appointed waiting areas).

I’ve met some awesome folks through VisionAmerica. My guess is that it wouldn’t take much effort for you to develop fierce advocates for your practices. Great care and great experience should be just the beginning.

Think about ways you can cultivate referrals. Think about rewarding employees for referrals and recognizing patients who bring you new clients. Most of all, always remember that your patients are people with lives, hopes and dreams. They have good days and bad days—especially when they are really sick.

Let your patients know you’d like their help in developing your practice. Take a few minutes to get to know them and let them get to know you, too.

We’re all in this together.

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