Monday, February 25, 2013

Need a few more appointments this week or next week?

Practice a little slow this week? One powerful way to add a few names in your appointment book is to do patient re-activation phone calls. It's way easier than cold calling (calling people who don't know you) and it's a tried and true method to get a positive response from the universe in growing your practice.

You don't need to have a huge agenda for these calls, but it is certainly easier if you write a few "scripts" for them before you start. This is helpful too, since you will inevitably be leaving messages on the phones of many of these patients. Here are some ideas:

1. For patients where you parted ways after treatment success: "I saw a recent article about your condition (which I'd be happy to email to you if you're interested) and it made me think of you. How are you doing? Still no more symptoms?" Then listen to the patient and see what they say. If they are still better, you have at least reminded them of your ongoing care for them as a patient. You might suggest a "tune-up" appointment or two at the next change of season to maintain their health.

2. For the patient that cancelled and disappeared: "I see you cancelled your last appointment and then we never heard from you after that. Can you tell me how you are doing? I was just wondering if you disappeared because you were feeling great, or was there something that did not work for you at our clinic...something that we could have done better? I hope you might be willing to share that if it was the case. I appreciate your taking this call and I hope you are feeling better."

3.  For the patient where their written contact information no longer works: "I'm calling for two reasons...one just to check in and see if you are still feeling improvement from your treatment through my clinic. Second, I see that your email address as changed. Did you still wish to be on our mailing list? We really hope so, but we need an updated email address!"

4. The patient where your interaction was OK, but you don't know why they stopped coming: "Hi Jane. It's been awhile since I saw you and I just wanted to say hello and see how you are. I know you had ...(you divorce finalization, our son's graduation, your mother's serious illness, your new job, whatever). I know that was stressful for you and I wondered how you are doing."

After each of these possible openers to the conversation, then be quiet and see where the patient will take the conversation. If they haven't much to say, you can ask if they'd like to continue to receive your email newsletter; you can offer to send them a coupon for 1/2 off the next time they might want to come in for a visit; you can let them know about a new class you are teaching or a new skill you have acquired; you can tell them about a free lecture you are giving somewhere; you can remind them that regular tune-up treatments can keep them symptom free. Whatever feels appropriate.

After the call, you might follow up with a card or a personalized email and include a piece of research or an article on their condition if you can find one (check out our TCM Infoline here at Blue Poppy for lots of free research: see the search mechanism in the center at the top of our home page). If you send a regualr piece of snail mail (what a concept), include a copy of your biz card as well.

Does this take a little courage? You bet, but then if you were a wimp you probably would not be running your own business anyway. Plus, you don't know what fruit this will bear. For every ten phone calls you make, you will likely get one patient to make an appointment right away and another one to call back for an appointment within a few weeks, or to refer a friend since they have now been reminded about you and your services. Or perhaps one of them will call and ask if you will come and give a talk for their special group. You just don't know.

Also, these same scripts can be used for the inevitable messages that you will leave for people...likely over 50% of the calls won't reach a real person. Even so, you've reached out is some non-threatening, not-necessarily-commercial way, which is more than more other types of practitioners ever do.

So don't abandon your inactive patients. Make it a monthly task to call six-or-eight-or-ten of them...you don't need to make this a gargantuan task! The more you do, the easier they become (and what's the worst that could happen anyway?). It's easier to get your old patients back into your clinic than to develop new ones who have never been there before!

I have a live class coming up at National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, OR on April 17th, 5 PM! If you think it sounds helpful, hope to see you there! I'll also be attending the Great River Festival at Northwest Health Sciences U. in Bloomington, MN the first weekend in April and speaking to the practice management classes there on April 4th.  If you work at a school or are a student at a school and would like me to come and give a free lecture, feel free to email me at honora@bluepoppy.com. Thanks for reading.

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