In an environment where competition is increasing, branding your practice can be very useful. Here's how.
Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool. Most of us like to be appreciated for our actions.
Often, when I use a service, I hear from the company - a nice thanks for using them. That may be simple and genuine appreciation. But in business terms, it is an effort to create a positive feeling about the business, appreciate you as a customer and establish a link between that business and you. The hope is that it will mean you are a repeat customer because you will remember them or their brand.
Branding is something we historically do little of in medicine. We generally don’t sell ourselves. Our skill and rapport are expected to do that. But in an environment where competition is increasing, branding your practice can be very useful.
There are a number of simple ways to create this brand that are unique to radiology. For many specialties, branding involves primarily patients. In radiology it may involve patients, or more commonly, referring providers and offices.
First, be appreciative. When you talk to providers or their offices, make sure they know who you are and where you are calling from. If you are waiting on the line, thank them for their referrals. You may do this with reports as well. But you might put a twist on the standard “Thanks for your referral.” Instead, add a comment indicating you know that they chose you from other options, something like, “Thank you for choosing us.” It is a simple but important difference that acknowledges their decision to pick you.
Look for chances to brand your practice or yourself. As a radiologist, we may not directly see many of our patients. But you can make sure they know you are there. On days when you are at a location, give the technical staff your business cards. Ask that they give one to each patient and tell them that you are their radiologist for that day or visit. We’ve all seen salesmen or other professionals do this. They do because it helps to create a connection by showing that you are willing to extend the relationship for more than that brief encounter.
Go the extra mile. Particularly if you own your own facility, you can make sure patients are thanked for their time and choice. But no one wants to make their front desk do a lot of additional work by pulling addresses and sending out thank you notes. As it turns out, we already pull up those addresses when a patient checks in. So have your staff add one small step and address a thank you card to the patient at check-in. You can have a pre-printed stack, signed by you all ready to go. And don’t forget to thank referring physician offices periodically. Although you can’t lavish gifts on people for their referrals, a small token from time to time helps to maintain and foster a positive connection.
What do you do to brand your practice?