There are many things that your practice needs to consider before investing in Groupon, Living Social or any other group discount website. Let me preface this article by informing you that TRBO will be hosting a webinar about this topic on Wednesday July 13th from 8-9pm EST. Click here for details and to register. In this article I want to highlight things you need to be concerned about, and we’ll expand on these points in the webinar next week.
Here’s a breakdown of topics you need to run through with your marketing staff or agency before running a group discount offer:
1) Contact your attorney: I’ve mentioned this several times in previous blog articles about Groupon and that’s because it is very important for you to understand your state’s “splitting laws,” which regulate the splitting of fees between medical practices and 3rd party referrers. While they are many examples of medical practices that have clearly violated their state’s laws with little repercussions as of yet, the government is often slow to react to new technology trends, so I expect them to start to crack down on clear violators of their state’s “splitting laws.”
2) Make a list of your most profitable services & treatments: If you’ve determined that you aren’t violating any splitting laws in your state then you need to figure out which service or treatment to offer. This is a very crucial step where many medical practices make tragic mistakes. The best place to start is with your most profitable procedures. This most likely eliminates Botox and other consumables. Generally speaking, laser procedures such as skin tightening, laser hair removal and skin resurfacing are good options. One tip I tell my clients to to is to fold a piece of paper in half length-wise and on one side list your most profitable procedures and on the other your most popular procedures. If there is any overlap then these are some services to consider offering.
3) Analyze your current scheduling process: How good is your staff at answering phone calls? What’s the average wait time for potential patients calling in? Do you ever get complaints from patients about scheduling issues? How often do you respond to website leads? You need to be aware of all your processes at your practices, especially the scheduling process, because you do not want to overbook yourself. Matt Arndt, the President of TRBO, has experienced this issue of long waits in response to a Groupon offer first hand. Do not overextend yourself just because you have a huge influx of Groupon patients wanting to schedule an appointment.
4) Brainstorm strategy for retaining these new patients: This is a crucial step that you need to thoroughly analyze with your marketing team. Let’s assume that you’re making very little profit on your deal. That’s ok, because the goal of this discount is to get exposure and build up your residual patients. You have to accept that some of these new patients are strictly window shoppers, and no matter how great the service is and how fantastic your practice is their sole concern is price. However, there will be opportunities with many of your patients to get them to return to your practice, even if they have to pay more for the same service. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Give each patient material on how they can earn additional discounts at the practice through: “liking” on Facebook, following on Twitter, signing up for the next seminar or simply referring a friend.
- Create a VIP club that offers discounts for various different services
- Sell the importance of the technology you’re using. Most patients do not know the difference between one fractional laser and another. You need to educate them on why your technology is the best. Emphasize why your laser or technology is best and how to using other lasers may result in ineffective or undesirable results
- Sell the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. This is something the doctor or medical technician who is performing the procedure needs to really focus on. Sure the staff needs to be appropriately prepared (see #5), but the doctor is running the show.
5) Prep your staff on what to expect: Make sure your staff is on their “A game” once these Groupon patients start coming in. Prepare all receptionists for increased amounts of phone calls and website hits. If you have a contact form on your website make sure that these inquiries are being answered within 1 business day. This is especially important because from my experience most practice’s are ready and capable of handling more phone calls, but they often lag in response time to email inquiries. Also consider a pep talk on the importance of customer service. You staff should already be kind and friendly with patients, but it’s still a good idea to remind them that there will be a lot of new patients and it’s a great opportunity to make them feel appreciated so that they come back.
Once you’ve gone through each of these 5 steps and you feel confident in your ability to handle the influx of patients you’re ready to schedule your offer. I suggest you research both Groupon and Living Social before choosing one or the other. They are both the clear #1 and #2 in their field, based on the reach that they have. However, depending on where you live you may be better off going with one in particular. If you’re near a large metropolitan, let’s say for example Manhattan Beach, CA (near LA) or Reston, VA (near DC), then it would be wise to know if Groupon or Living Social can help you target more specifically in your city, as opposed to the nearby major metropolitan (up to 30 or so miles away), especially if the average patient only travels a short distance (10 miles or less) to see you.
If you have any questions about using Groupon or Living Social I recommend that you check out our upcoming webinar on July 13th at 8pm EST. You can always contact Turbo for a free consultation or give us a call at 877-673-7096 x2.