It’s been a, shall we say, interesting year so far in 2020. In the past couple weeks, many businesses are trying to get back on their feet and see what the economic reality of a “restart” is going to look like. That includes many of our clients’ plastic surgery practices.
If you have reopened to some extent or have plans to do so in the near future, we wish you the very best and we are supporting you in that process. If you’re still waiting a bit longer, we hope that you will be able to safely resume your operations soon.
For this post, we wanted to run through some best practices as you get back in the saddle and chart a course for your practice in the months ahead. Here’s what we’re seeing, as of mid-May.
1. Shuffle through the Backlog
Your first order of business is to serve your patients who had booked appointments before the various shelter-in-place orders went into effect. You’ve likely found that some of those patients are ready to move forward, while others prefer to push out their plans a bit longer. It can be a challenging time for logistics and scheduling, but take the time to make sure your eager patients feel cared for and those who are being more cautious know you will support them when they’re ready.
2. Get the Word Out – with Sensitivity
In a time when new coronavirus cases continue to be reported daily and many families have been impacted financially by shutdown orders and the reverberating effects, it can feel insensitive to make a big deal about reopening your practice. We suggest a phased approach where you are communicating with active/in-queue patients first, your full patient base second, and then the larger community of new prospects last.
Consider an eblast to your patient list about your reopening plans. Revisit any boilerplate messaging that gets sent out to new patients, and review your intake process to see if additional forms or notices make sense in light of current conditions. Then, turn an eye toward attracting new patients by making sure your website and local listings online clearly indicate that you are open for business and accepting new patients.
3. Educate Patients about Safety Practices
Most of our clients who have reopened or will soon have started with surgical procedures first, delaying med spa treatments for a few more weeks. This may sound topsy turvy to patients, who might consider surgery to pose more risk than a simple injection or skin peel. Take the time to educate about sterilization and safety practices in your surgical suite, treatment rooms, and general office setting. We recommend sharing this information on your website and also providing it in email or other virtual communication with patients ahead of their procedure.
4. Take Advantage of PPC Opportunities
As you may have heard, advertising on Google and Facebook took a big hit in the past couple of months as there is less demand. This has resulted in lower cost-per-click/cost-per-impression amounts. But our take is that this “sale” on online ad space isn’t going to last long. Plenty of your competitors are going to want to drum up more business in the weeks and months ahead. Even if you feel like you have your plate plenty full right now handling your backlog of business, it may make sense to take advantage of this opportunity.
5. Listen to Patients for Sustained Success
So far, we’ve talked a lot about how you communicate out what your office is up to. But here’s the thing – you’re not providing services in a vacuum. Be more open than usual to patient feedback you receive and take it to heart. Everyone has dealt with the crisis in his or her own way, and hearing other perspectives may help you to switch up some policies, come up with a particularly compelling offer, or just open your eyes to a valuable new way of seeing the world.
6. Revisit Your Long-Term Goals
Tough circumstances will come and go, but having a long-term vision will help you tremendously to make the smartest moves over the years. For your online marketing, this is where it makes sense to continue laying the foundation of content marketing, on-site SEO, and cross-platform marketing so you’re set up to win in both the short and long term. In addition to continuing your regular online marketing push, we can help you implement tactics to boost revenue for years to come. Some examples:
Craft offers that resonate with patients and prospects
Develop new service bundles, delivery options, payment methods and value propositions
Kick-start a loyalty program or find new ways to promote the one you have
Enhance your local online listings with relevant, topical messaging
Improve SEO and voice search positioning with FAQ content development
Share more personal, heartfelt and touching updates on social media
7. Keep Communication Channels Open
As your office gets busier, it can be very easy to slip into the “old” (circa January 2020) way of doing things. You likely enjoy getting back to performing surgery and seeing patients, and that’s great. You may not have your full staff available, and it may feel tough just to keep your head above water right now. But we encourage you to keep in mind that with the sudden rapid increase in virtual consultations and other online access to doctors, patients are now expecting an ongoing ability to connect easily online. The most successful practices will cater to that desire.
8. Be Prepared for Curveballs
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that none of us has a crystal ball and it’s critical to stay flexible when the unexpected arises. Right now, many practices are getting back at it while doing their part to help stop the spread of disease. Will things be mostly back on track 6 months from now? Will a new challenge arise? It’s impossible to know, and it’s impossible to plan for.
Even if we are all fortunate enough to feel like many things have returned to “normal” in the near future, we suggest holding onto some of the positive lessons from this crisis so far. With so many unknowns, many people have remarked how they are living “day by day” or “in the moment.” Any follower of mindfulness or meditation practices will tell you this is a good thing. While you of course need to maintain vision, discipline and focus to run your practice successfully, we encourage you to surface for a breath of air a bit more often than you used to, and keep a very open mind about how you can succeed no matter what comes our way the rest of the year.