Every year on July 20th, Joe Thielemann volunteers at Northside Hospital in honor of his late father,…
Marketing Your Medical Practice Series (3 of 4)
Each month we have been exploring different areas of a patient’s experience with your practice (“customer experience” in the business world). This month, we are going to explore both “Curb Appeal” and your “Waiting Room”. These two sections are especially critical if you have the type of practice that is based on elective procedures or in a competitive field (ie: plastics, dentistry, pediatrics).
Curb appeal goes beyond the border of your parking lot, it actually extends throughout your neighborhood and impacts how professional your practice is perceived in the eye of your visitors, guests, vendors and patients. Curb appeal isn’t just about pretty flowers in pots and pruned shrubbery, it’s a whole lot more.
When was the last time you walked to your practice, on foot? Walking the neighborhood that your practice is in gives you a different experience then driving up to it. Your eye has more time to look at the details around you, and in this particular case, those details matter.
Is the street, or complex that you are in, well maintained, well marked and well lit? Would you or your staff feel comfortable walking around your neighborhood at night? If the streets are congested with heavy traffic, is the sidewalk wide enough to feel like it can be safely travelled on foot?
Now that you’ve walked up to your practice, walk around the perimeter of your building and parking lot, especially the far corners of the lot that nobody parks in. Is the entire lot paved completely, or are there potholes that need attention? It really doesn’t take much of an indent in the pavement for a person to lose their footing. Are the parking spots well marked, or has it been 8+ years since they’ve been “striped”?
If you have multiple entrances, is it obviously clear that the patient/visitor entrance is well marked?
Ensuring that the outside of your practice, and the drive up to it, is just as professional as your staff will ensure that your patients will be put at ease that they chose the right doctor, even before they meet you!
The Waiting Room
This is the section that surprises me the most, that many offices (business and medical) miss out on perfecting the waiting room experience because the opportunities are endless! A good waiting room experience will make a person feel welcome, expected and in the right place. A great waiting room experience will upsell, cross sell, future sell and promote a fantastic relationship.
In the business world, many organizations actually use their waiting room as a tool in the selling process, intentionally leaving guests waiting because the room is specifically designed to encourage a specific type of conversation, comment or idea starter.
If your waiting room is a typical room – square with chairs around the walls, side tables with years of gossip magazines stacked up and a glass partition separating the office staff from your guests, then sit up for a moment because that is the room that needs changing.
Your practice waiting room needs to mimic what it should feel like if your friend was coming over to your house and was asked to wait for a few moments, and so should the hospitality. Would you shut the door and ask your friend to sit on the door step, or would you show him to the best seat and offer a beverage? I’m not suggesting that overstuffed couches and espresso machines are required (but they are effective!), I am suggesting that you rethink how you greet your guests and patients and take a hard look at the room that they wait in. Sit in that room for a few moments and ask yourself following questions:
- Does this room feel welcoming? Is it clean, orderly, in current fashion?
- Is the room well lit for completing paperwork? Bright fluorescents are not required (and may seem “sterile”), but sufficient lighting is needed.
- Besides the chairs and tables, where else does your eye go? Notice the things you look at and do they promote comfort, health, well being or a feeling of joy?
- What reading materials are available? Are they current and relative to your patient’s interest? Do you have any interesting upper-end magazines that a person would otherwise not purchase (ie: exclusive car magazines, horse/stallion magazines, local newletters – Tampa Bay Magazine, Destination Tampa Bay, etc…)?
- Do you have strategically important brochures placed within arms reach? (ie: Neurology Today, financing programs, general practice brochures, industry brochures.)
By putting yourself in the shoes of your patient, for just an hour each quarter or month, you will find that you can create value by paying attention to the details. Value is subjective and in the eye of the beholder – so make what you do valuable before you meet your patients.
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PCMA Members can contact Laurean Callander directly for a phone consult on any tactic or idea presented in this editorial. email@example.com
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