Most doctors get into medicine because they want to serve patients. But let’s face it… not all patients are created equal.
Some are a joy to work with. They fit your personality, they get what you do, they request services that align perfectly with your specialty and they’re happy to pay you what you deserve. But other clients are difficult. Maybe you just don’t click with them on a personal level. Perhaps they second guess your expertise or are always asking for something outside the scope of your engagement. Or maybe they just need services that, in a perfect world, you’d rather not offer.
If you’re a naturopathic or functional medicine doctor trying to grow your private practice, you might think you have to put up with both. But what if you didn’t? What if you loved every single patient you see? What if you only had to take work that was in your chosen specialty? Imagine if you made a good profit on every single appointment and actually enjoyed the work.
That may sound like pie-in-the sky thinking, but it’s not. In fact, the best way to grow your private practice is by duplicating your best clients. In this article, I explain just what I mean and how you can use this strategy to scale your practice.
Taking whatever patients you can get…
When most doctors start a private practice they have some idea of who they want to serve. They’re passionate about a certain issue or dream about helping people with a certain need. And whether they vocalize it or not, they have some idea of the people they hope to work with.
Maybe when you first opened you imagined all the happy patient-doctor interactions you’d have — people who come to trust you, laugh at your jokes and listen to your advice. Perhaps there was some point in your training where you worked with someone who was so great that you walked away saying, “wow, if I could work with people like that everyday, I’d love my job”.
I talk to doctors with that story all the time. Often they chose their specialty because they once had a special interaction with one patient.
Those stories are amazing and they always inspire me. But when doctors begin taking on patients, they typically realize that not every interaction is so rosy. They take whatever they can get to pay the bills and start building a practice. And before long, their practice looks nothing like the vision they’d started with.
That’s not a fun place to be. It’s no fun to go into work and feel like you’re drifting further and further from what you want to be doing. You may be able to stomach those issues for a while, but they only increase when you try to grow your private practice.
How to grow your private practice the wrong way…
Scaling your business is a good thing. I coach doctors to do it all the time. But there’s a wrong way to do it.
The wrong way to grow your private practice is by taking on as much new business as you can.
While this may multiply your revenue, most of the time it just multiplies your stress. With new patients you have to offer a greater number of services and treatment plans. You have more personality types to contend with. Some things you love doing. Some patients are a joy to see. Other treatment plans are not cost efficient — you make scant margins on them or actually lose money. And other patients just multiply your headaches because they don’t respect what you do or don’t fit within your niche.
Taking on more business is not always good for business.
In fact, most doctors who scale in this way end up liking their job less and less while working more and more. And to top it off, they’re not even making good profits.
How to grow your private practice the right way…
To grow your practice the right way, duplicate your best clients. Instead of scaling in general, focus on attracting more of the clients you want to work with. Sounds simple right?
But the clients you like the most will make you the most money. You enjoy working with them and they’re happy with the service you provide. They’ll probably even use the services that give you the best ROI. And because they’re happy, they’ll keep coming back and will provide you a consistent stream of income. They might even refer others to you for the same services.
These types of clients help you scale. With them you can focus on doing the same few (lucrative, enjoyable, time-efficient) things well instead of trying to do everything. Not only is that more enjoyable for you, it also makes the best use of your practice’s resources. You’ll only have to invest in equipment that will see consistent use, you can streamline treatment plans and you won’t have to use time or money marketing across multiple niches.
How to Duplicate Your Best Clients
1. Make a list of your top revenue clients
Look over your books and note the clients that have earned your practice the most revenue. What do these clients have in common? Do they see you for a specific service? Or are they valuable because they bring you repeat business?
2. Make a list of your favorite clients to work with
Note your ten favorite clients. These are the individuals you love seeing on your schedule. They’re fun to work with and make your job enjoyable.
3. Compare lists
Hopefully there are some clients that show up on both lists — ones that pay well and are a joy to work with. What do you notice about these clients? Are there certain themes or characteristics you notice?
4. Talk to your favorite clients
If there are clients on both lists, spend some time talking to them. You may already know some details, but ask questions. Why do they come to see you? What do they like about working with you? How have you impacted their lives? It may be easiest to simply ask these clients to leave you a review or fill out a testimonial.
5. Offer incentives for referrals
Chances are your favorite clients have friends that are like them. They might know people who need similar services or have similar personalities. When you speak with your favorite clients, humbly ask them for referrals. And if you’re able, offer an incentive (like an add on service or a discount) if any of their friends do become clients. That may require a small investment upfront, but it will pay off handsomely if you can sign more people you want to work with.
6. Tailor your marketing to your ideal clients
Now that you know what your ideal clients look like, customize your marketing to them. In all your advertisements and promotional materials, speak as if you were speaking to them. Talk about the problems they have and name the benefits they have seen from working with you. This will help attract like-minded business.
7. Don’t be afraid to turn away non-ideal clients
If you follow the above steps, you’ll be able to get the attention of people you want to work with. But you’ll also likely have some less than ideal clients ask to work with you. When that happens you’ll have an important call to make. In some cases, you may want to still work with them. But more likely, if a prospective patient doesn’t fit into the guidelines you’ve established, you’ll want to refer them to someone else. While this may seem like you’re losing business now, it will only help you grow your private practice in the long run. You’ll be free to focus on the clients that provide you with the best ROI.