Practice Management News and Views from around the World – January 2011

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Best wishes for a healthy, peaceful and profitable New Year

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What you need at your website landing page

by Winston Marsh

There are four questions you must answer in creating your website. Answer them and they will give you the three things you must have at the landing page of your web site. The questions are:

  • Who do you want to come to your website? (They’d probably be people who are looking for what you’ve got or answers to their problems. Of course, you current clients will also visit and you should make it easy for them to go to the information they want, maybe by way of special entry.)
  • When they come to your website what will they want to see? (They’ll want to see hyperlinks at your home page that take them to the answers to the most common questions they ask in dealing with you.)
  • When they get to your website what do you want them to do? (We call it getting them to leave a footprint so that you know that they’ve been. You must at least get them to leave their e-mail address so that you can follow them up… when you follow up their visit to your site you increase the chances of converting them to a client up to nine times! You can capture their contact details by offering to send them information of compelling interest and value like a free report on, for example, “Three great ways to…!”)
  • How will the person you want to visit your website find out about it? (By finding you in Google local and then going to your website and by you having your web address in every piece of information about you and your business… on your business card and letter head, in advertisements and articles, on your flyers and external signage, in social media and so on.)

When people arrive at your landing page they don’t want to see a whole lot of self serving stuff about the company or you. What they want is an answer to their problems and they’d like to see it. That’s why I endorse the approach Monte Huebsch www.montehuebsch.com a genius at getting visitors to web sites recommends. Monte says that a video at your landing page is critical because the average person goes to 4 sites before making a selection. If you have video, they will only visit 2 sites and probably decide you are the one they want to do business with. You upload your video to YouTube (its free and you can upload as many as you like).

Now, you don’t want to create a self serving, pretty video but one where you talk to the camera for around 90 seconds and…

  • Outline the problem that would probably be the reason they are visiting your site (and sites like yours).
  • Aggravate the problem (talk about what happens if they don’t solve it).
  • Outline your solution to their problem.
  • Provide proof that your solution works (remember you can use testimonials… they’re very powerful and can talk about case histories and the results you’ve achieved).
  • Has a call to action (you tell them what to do next). “To make an appointment/ solve your problem call 9765 4321 now!” (After hours divert calls to someone who can take them or to voice mail with the promise to return their call first thing the next business day.) Most importantly, make sure you have your phone number prominently at the top right corner of each web page with the words “For an appointment/to solve your problem call now!”

Follow these suggestions and you are well on the way to getting your web presence really working for you.

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How did you cope with change in 2010

by Bryan Buescher DC

The approach of a new year is a good time to reflect upon what we learned this year. Before saying good-bye to 2010, take the quiz to see how well you coped with change. Whether you find change exciting or frightening, awareness of your response to change can help you develop better strategies for working with it. Answer “agree” or “disagree” to the following questions to find out how well you coped with change in 2010.

  • Generally, I looked forward to change as exciting and challenging.
  • I didn’t wait until I was totally fed up before making any changes.
  • I also didn’t wait until a new situation was perfect before making a change.
  • If I was confronted with an unfavorable change, I reviewed the events and my behavior to determine if I could have done anything differently.
  • Rather than feeling responsible for negative changes that came out of nowhere, I took responsibility for my reaction to them.
  • During a time of change, I asked for help from reliable friends, family and professionals, who could help me develop productive strategies.
  • When something positive happened for someone that might change our relationship, I didn’t let my fears get in the way of being supportive of that
    person.
  • If I experienced a major change in my life, while coming to terms with it, I attempted to keep other changes to a minimum.
  • When a change or transition occurred, I reviewed how I had handled other such events in the past for lessons on how to handle that event.
  • I looked to others who had undergone similar changes as models for how I might better address the change in my life.
  • If I experienced a major life change, while still in the middle of it, I stepped back from the situation to get perspective and to rest in order to regain a sense of balance.
  • If I was caught in a change over which I had no control, rather than blaming or feeling victimized, I “picked myself up, dusted myself off” and continued to move forward.
  • I tried to look at the “big picture” of the change, and acknowledged any mixed feelings I might have had.
  • I didn’t hold onto the “way things used to be,” but instead moved into “the way things are.”
  • I was willing to risk disapproval and lack of support from others in order to make a necessary change.

If you answered “agree” to fewer than eight items, you may want to explore different and more positive ways to approach change.

You can click here to visit Bryan Buescher’s website

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Australian Veterinary Business Association

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Creative Marketing in a Down Economy

by Helen H Cohen MA CEG

From an article published in Dentistry IQ

Note from the editor Just replace ‘dental’ with ‘veterinary’ to judge the value of this advice for your veterinary practice

Marketing in a down economy means you must be creative in your approach to attracting new patients. Here are five pragmatic suggestions for your practice to try:

1. Target your satisfied patients to increase referrals. Patients who have had positive results from your treatment and who trust and like your practice are always your best advocates. Train your staff to be on the alert to ask for a referral during a “peak” patient visit. For example, the tactful approach: “Mrs. Jones, we wish we had 100 patients like you!” Mrs. Jones will ask why, and you say what a wonderful patient she is because ___ (fill in the blank with a descriptive adjective). Patients will be so pleased by this exchange. With this method, you are able to plant the “seed” for a future referral. Focus on patients who are the primary decision makers in their
family. Whenever you have an opportunity that presents itself to elevate patients’ confidence, trust, and satisfaction with an in-office interaction, you gain their loyalty. The best “dental missionaries” are the ones who are the most enthusiastic about you and your office.

2. Reward and acknowledge your staff for referrals. Implement a referral bonus system of giving a designated cash amount for each new patient that accepts and starts treatment with your practice. This can be for a set time frame or can be ongoing, depending on the practice’s needs for generating new patients. At staff meetings, discuss and role-play how to properly ask for referrals. Motivate staff to spread the word about the office in their network of contacts. It’s a win-win situation — they receive the cash reward and the practice gains a new patient. In addition, you will be able to assess which staff members are fully behind your practice’s success, and dedicated to
promoting dental health and you as a terrific dentist.

3. Brainstorm with your team members to generate creative marketing strategies/plans. Schedule some staff meetings with the sole purpose of talking about ways to market your practice both internally and externally. Think outside the box with ideas that may have potential. To feel comfortable, staff members need to understand that all ideas will be accepted in a safe space. Team members have to have courage to bring forward any ideas they may have. Hold this think tank session outside of the office in a nice neutral location or over an extended lunch. No idea is too small or too big, but depends on the perspective from which it is given. Your staff has to understand the importance of marketing the practice, and must look for opportunities to grow the business. By using your staff’s talent, the dentist will not be the only one responsible for coming up with novel ideas. After an idea has been worked through and agreed upon, a documented plan to implement it should be created. Think short-term and long-term goals with definite timelines. Decide how it is to be accomplished and who is in charge, and hold the staff accountable to follow through. By including your team as a viable
resource to increase your referrals, you increase their self-confidence as contributing members to the office and production, and their enthusiasm also increases.

4. Referrals from generalists need more cultivation from specialists. Typically general practices receive lots of contacts from specialists in their community. Generalists send business to specialists year round, but what are they doing for them? To remember them at Christmas may not be enough for the amount of generated income and goodwill forwarded. Think of ways to be more appreciative of their referrals. Refer patients to them as well. For example, if a new patient moves into town and sees an orthodontist to start or continue active treatment, ask if the family has a generalist. Often they don’t, so send referrals back to reciprocate. Another idea is to do a “lunch and learn” at
the GP’s office about some topic that is new and innovative regarding your specialty. Specialists should not assume that generalists know about every new technological advancement or mode of treatment outside of their expertise. Take notice among their staff that would benefit from some ortho treatment and invite them to your office for an evaluation. I am an example of this, as I chose to go into active treatment and picked an orthodontist in whom I had the upmost confidence and who we referred to often. The result was well worth it. I was in braces at middle age, and our adult patients were so impressed and encouraged by my decision to be in treatment that I was able to generate several new referrals.

5. Referrals from patients need to be rewarded. Use your dental software to monitor all patient referrals weekly, monthly, and annually by source. Referral sources are from patients, external advertising, specialists or generalists, insurance plans, promotions, team members, and more. From this you should be able to ascertain what efforts are the least and most effective. The significant sources that are clearly identified as returning on your investment of time and cost can then be expanded upon. Establish a referral reward system for each time your patients send you their first, second, and third referrals. A simple handwritten thank you note is a very genuine, remembered, and cost effective first step. From there, you may elect to give gift cards for restaurant meals, movie passes, coffee houses and more. If you market yourself with an office newsletter, mention the names of all the patients who referred others. People really like to see their name in print and receive recognition. Timeliness of the reward is important and ought to be within one to two weeks of the referral to have the best impact.

In closing, be open to trying different approaches and exploring the possibilities. It’s like the financial advice often given to wise investors to diversify their funds. I am a firm believer that the more you do the greater the results!

Good luck to your practice!

You can click here to visit Helen Cohen’s website

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A new website for veterinary professionals

by Dr Sheri Berger DVM DACVO

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A new website for veterinary professionals was launched in the Spring of 2010. PetsVetSpace.com will soon be regarded as the premier global online veterinary community — a venue for veterinarians, veterinary technicians and hospital administrative staffers. VetVineR serves as the hub where all veterinary professionals can connect with one another and with pet owning consumers in search of expertly authenticated information and quality care providers. This website will position veterinary specialists as an extension of the DVM’s practice and help in forging and enriching relationships between veterinary specialists and their DVM’s as well as educating the pet owning public about specialty care that is available to compliment their primary care veterinarian’s services.

The website is going to revolutionize the world of pet care and will soon be regarded as the “go to” destination for trusted and expert-authenticated information. The website is presently veiled by a series of informational pages while some of the features of the website continue under development. The member profiles populating the directory in our growing VetVineR community will soon be highly search-engine optimized so that pet-owning consumers and colleagues can locate and read more about members and their practice or professional activities. VetVineR membership is free and is a means of increasing visibility to consumers — pet owners and colleagues alike.

Features under development will soon enable veterinary professionals to network with one another within VetVineR. Pet owners will also have their section — where individuals can connect and communicate with one another regarding the welfare of their pets and pet health issues.

In addition to VetVineR, the website also features and hosts online Continuing Education for veterinary professionals. PetsVetSpaceR is an approved provider for accredited CE by the AAVSB RACE program. The website hosts conveniently scheduled, 1 hour, live and interactive events that are recorded and archived — making them available for on-demand viewing. We feature presentations for veterinarians, veterinary technicians and practice management or administrative staff. The interface and online meeting space is user-friendly and participation in live events is fun, affords convenience and “the best seat in the house,” and is a cost-effective means for earning CE credit and continual professional development for individuals and hospital teams.

You can click here for more information about VetVineR membership, our online Continuing Education events and opportunities to participate as a CE provider and/or CE sponsor

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How Zappo’s Uses Values-Driven Leadership to Achieve Success

by Exceptional Veterinary Team

If you want to identify the true character and personality of a company, skip the values statement that hangs on the wall and observe the way people act in the routine events of each day. Look carefully at what’s actually rewarded, how people get ahead and who gets promoted, and watch and listen to what leaders do and where they spend their time. One key to organizational success lies in the degree of alignment between the company’s “espoused” values (what they say is important) and their “values in action” (what they actually do).

Zappo’s is absolutely fanatical about values alignment. Here are several Human Resources practices that serve to create that alignment:

  • Zappo’s 10 core values include “Be humble,” “Create fun and a little weirdness,” and “Deliver WOW through service.” To help make these abstract values concrete, employees submit short essays that illustrate each value which are published (unedited) in a book that’s distributed to staff and updated annually.
  • Zappos puts a huge emphasis on hiring for cultural fit. Prospective hires must pass an hour-long “culture interview” before being handed off to whatever
    department they are applying to. Questions include, “On a scale of 1 — 10, how weird are you?” and “What was your last position called? Was that an appropriate title?” The first question makes sure that employees are sufficiently weird (as defined by the company); the second, in which the interviewer is trying to goad the applicant into grumbling about his or her title, tests for humility.
  • Every new hire undergoes four weeks of training, during which the company culture must be committed to memory.
  • Performance reviews are based in large part on how well each employee participates in the culture. Important questions for each person to consider are things like: Are you living the brand promise? Are you organizing team events? What is your relationship like with outside vendors? How are your relationships with other members of your team?

You can click here to visit the Zappo’s website

You can click here to visit the Exceptional Veterinary Team website

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