Keeping Work-Life Balance In A Health Practice

Keeping Work Life Balance

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Today we’ll discuss work-life balance in a health practice. I used to have a doctor that worked incredibly hard. His appointments begin at 6:30 in the morning, and he books as late as 4:30 pm. There are no long lunches, so he’s working intense 10 hour days, five days per week. He never takes more than a week off. His waiting room is crowded. He’s smart and in demand, makes plenty of money, and he helps hundreds of people every week. Can you figure out the downside?

The Downside Of Overworked Doctors

  • he has no time for professional growth or keeping his skills updated
  • he makes unnecessary mistakes in diagnosis and treatment, because he’s rushing too quickly to double check
  • he potentially exposes himself¬† to liability or even malpractice issues
  • his waiting room is overcrowded, and a five-minute appointment can take up to two hours, because he’s always running late… usually a half hour, but it can get much worse
  • his staff is stressed because his clients aren’t happy, so turnover is high
  • he misses out on referral business
  • he’s unlikely to have a happy family life at home
  • his stress levels are too high. He literally runs between appointment rooms, trying to keep up
  • he’s a prime candidate for stress-related illness himself

Notice I said “used to”. No, he hasn’t keeled over from a heart attack yet, but he did make a serious mistake in my diagnosis. He simply made a math mistake, because he was rushing. I can’t recommend him and I won’t choose him again for treatment, as his error caused me lost work time, stress, and months to recover from.

A Busy Practice For Work-Life Balance, Not Burnout

When I tell health professionals that we’ll book up their practice, I’m careful to qualify that with “as busy as you want it to be”. There’s no need to crush yourself under an unreasonable workload. It’s important to set up systems and staff training that keep as much weight as possible off you so that you can maintain work-life balance. If you want to grow even bigger, there’s always the possibility of adding another practitioner. You see, once you have the challenge of keeping your practice busy handled, you have more cash flow, and more options. You can get your student loans paid off, if those are still an issue, and quickly achieve a place where your practice startup costs are paid and you’re not staggering under debt.

There's no need to crush yourself under an unreasonable workload. Click To Tweet

The idea of booking up your practice is to ultimately reduce stress on you, and give you more personal time that is recaptured from struggling to make your business work. I believe it’s realistic to increase your practice income while actually reducing your workload, so that you can maintain that elusive work-life balance.

Have You Taken Time Off Lately?

If your time is busy but your practice isn’t, you’re probably struggling with trying to do the marketing yourself. There’s simply too much to learn, and you’re already in a career that demands huge ongoing learning. We believe that every practice that has the owner doing the marketing is operating less efficiently that it could be – and taking up too much of the owner’s valuable time.

Marketing has changed with the advent of the world wide web – in fact, it changes every month, as Google changes their rules. If you’re in a specialty practice and aren’t getting 40 to 60 percent of your new patients via the web, you’re doing it the hard way. And the slow way. And most likely, the expensive way. You’re also missing out on the best opportunities to build your professional presence and credibility, yet that can be happening while you’re on vacation if you get the right practice marketing team on your side.

If you're in a specialty practice and aren't getting 40 to 60 percent of your new patients via the web, you're doing it the hard way. Click To Tweet

The days of learning it once are over. Marketing is a dynamic entity today that must be reactive to your goals, your competition, your strengths, your ideal patients, and even today’s hot topics. And of course, it must be reactive to what Google wants to see.

Get Your Marketing “Just Handled”

What we do is simply handle it. You’re going to work with us to set a realistic budget based on your growth goals. Typically, in every industry, there are four numbers you need to know. If you don’t know them, you’ll struggle with growth, and definitely with work-life balance, so let’s review them now.

Four Practice Metrics You Need To Know

Client Lifetime Value

If you get a new patient, what’s that worth to you? Whether you’re a dentist or a weight loss doctor, you should have an idea of the value to your practice of every new client, and so should your staff. Let’s take that weight loss doctor example. Let’s say your initial program is $1200 and you have a followup program which is $499. 40% of clients book the followup. You also sell some products in your practice such as supplements, informational posters, and accessories for weight loss. Your staff tells patients they’re available on Amazon, but they often buy immediately for convenience. Every patient averages about $100 in these purchases overall. That puts the LTV or lifetime value of every new patient at nearly $1500, not including the value of their referrals.

Client Aquisition Cost

The cost of acquiring a new patient varies by industry and competition level. In most industries, a new client needs multiple exposures to you before they contact you, and even more before they purchase. If you’re marketing effectively, you have a client acquisition funnel that takes this into account. In our weight loss example above, the acquisition cost of a new client is typically between $75 and $150. Google Adwords gives you pricing for ads in advance. An ad that gets a click on your website for a specific buyer term can cost $5 to $50 or more. For example, currently “weight loss doctor” costs $7.13 for one click, and that’s if you create the ad and manage the account yourself. And one click isn’t a new patient – it’s just the first step in the process. It typically takes attracting 4 to six clicks before a client will call, although we have ways of streamlining this by creating an attractive enticement offer.

That’s okay, acquiring clients is a cost in any business. Some have sales staff doing outreach specifically for that purpose, and paying sales staff is also part of a client acquisition cost. For our purposes, it’s not essential to know the exact number to the dollar, but it’s important to have a realistic estimate.

How To Budget For Practice Marketing

Maintenance Marketing Budget For Your Practice

Patients move through your practice, are helped, and leave – hopefully leaving referrals behind them, but an effective referral program is another topic. To keep enough new patients coming in to maintain your current practice income and cover your expenses, you need to know the amount you need to be spending on marketing to keep this flow of new patients happening. Leaving it to chance is too stressful, and a formula for creating a practice that struggles with cash flow. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to know what you should be spending to maintain marketing: an average of about 5% of your gross revenues.

So if your practice is generating $25,000 per month, you need to be spending about $1,250 specifically on marketing to maintain your current revenues and respond to patient attrition. In a practice generating $50,000 per month, that number would be $2500.

Growth Marketing Budget For Your Practice

A marketing budget that creates growth in your practice needs to be higher. It also depends on how quickly you want to see results. Typically (and this is also true for most industries), a growth marketing budget would be 5% to 10% of your target revenues. It could even get as high as 15% for a short time, during a targeted campaign. So if you’re at $25,000 per month but you know you should be at $50,000 per month and want to get there relatively quickly, you’d spend accordingly to get the result. Remember that we’re talking about doubling your revenues here – 200% growth! It would look something like this:

$50,000 monthly goal within 6 months – marketing spend of 10% per month: $5,000 per month marketing budget, then return to maintenance at $2,500 or set a new growth goal.

$50,000 monthly goal within 3 months – marketing spend of 15% per month: $7,500 per month marketing budget, then return to maintenance at $2,500 or set a new growth goal.

These numbers vary a bit by industry as well as by the strength of your competition, but they’re an effective guideline to show you how you can leverage your marketing spend to create new growth in your practice.

Removing The Money And Marketing Stress

What we do is remove the stress of keeping the numbers up and finding time to market for busy medical professionals. A “Just Done For You” marketing approach with a trustworthy partner agency that knows how to build your practice can remove a lot of stress. Give us a call and let’s talk about doing that for your practice. It’s a great step towards restoring your work-life balance!

 

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Karilee Orchard

Karilee

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Karilee moved from general management consulting to specialize in web marketing in 2009. The challenges of keeping her clients' profiles very visible in Google Search and elsewhere on the web keep life interesting, as the optimal techniques to do so change constantly.

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