Finally, The Most Common Goof Of Old-School Healthcare and Physical Therapy Marketers Explained
By David C Steinberg & Trent Wehrhahn, Senior Consultants, The PT Referral Machine
For years, healthcare marketing consultants have been recommending a variety of techniques for garnering referrals. Typically, the recommendations focus on relationship building. In fact, just yesterday I got an email from a client saying they just received a "How To" report from a consultant encouraging him to consider hiring a "practice representative". The rep would make visits on his behalf so that he could spend his time in the clinic. Our client wanted to know if I thought it was a good idea.
What do you think - good advice?
If your initial reaction is yes, you may want to reconsider. Here is why.
(If you are a practice representative, we mean no disrespect, but it is our job to call ?em like we see'em).
Problems with practice representatives (and links to solutions):
1. The days of traditional selling in healthcare are over. Relying on a representative to communicate on your behalf is like driving with the brakes on. That is why many practice managers give up on this after turning over a few reps. In the words of the esteemed late Peter Drucker, modern marketing techniques make selling superfluous.
2. When relied on as the engine for developing and maintaining your referral relationships, even good representatives may be an inefficient use of your budget. With the right communications (marketing) system, you will get much more for your money - reaching more people, more frequently, with a well-planned message.
3. A bad representative can set you back rather than move you forward. What they say and how they say it is a reflection on you, and you have very little control over how many people they see and what they say on your behalf. Nothing is more frustrating than listening to excuses as to why the rep was unable to make an appointment. Problems may not be obvious until it is too late.
4. Unless you have an iron-tight non-compete agreement that you are willing to enforce, you always run the risk of having your investment train and prepare the rep to move on to greener pastures with your competitors.
We're not saying there isn't an important role for practice reps, but if you are going to use one, then you should put this luxury at the end of your sales and marketing process. A better approach is to set up your business so that the sales are driven by marketing, and not the other way around. When you succeed at this, you'll enjoy more control and a bigger bang for your buck. Think about it - a good rep will cost moderate to high five figures just for base pay with no incentive, and, to be effective, they need an expense account, a laptop, cell phone, and other benefits. Your marketing system can (and should) be the engine that drives referral patterns.
Today, many industries have marketing solution providers with real stuff you can use, ready to go, not just consulting. For a more complete description of an industry solution just for physical therapy, download a complimentary copy of the Clinic Owner's Guide To Marketing and read actual case studies at www.PTreferralMachine.com/from_the_trenches. For those who want to see a live demonstration, sign up for a webinar.