Competition: How to eliminate them?
This week I’m back with a new question. I’ve been busy with our new Giftmas tour, my guest posts and choosing a stethoscope. I’ve been thinking of choosing the Classic Littmann or the MDF instrument in rose gold. I’ve finally managed to sift through my emails, almost forty of them for a question to post here. And this one was interesting from Dr. ST who says, “I practice in a semi-urban city. I’ve been here five years with a successful practice. A new doctor has come in and set up a practice two doors down from me. Since then over the last month business has dwindled and my patients have moved to him. How do I handle the competition?”
Okay so here’s the thing, the very fact that you’re asking after another practice has moved in means you’re late to the party. Here’s why:
One of the things about running any practice/business is anticipating competition. I don’t know why we aren’t taught these things in medical school, but you need to have some idea about how to run a business. The first thing is plan your practice in such a way knowing that someday you will have competition. You are not going to be the only doctor in an area. So plan to set yourself apart, and be unique for your patients. What is that one thing that only your practice offers that no one else does, home visits, home blood draws, delivery of medications? Read business books like the personal MBA or take a course. And start learning about the healthcare business and preparing for this. (Even you Dr ST)
Don’t take the patients for granted. They will always move when they find something of value elsewhere. So ask your BDM or sales team (if you have these) to come up with ways to keep things fresh or get people to stay. For example, free or discounted flu shots in the winter, free blood pressure camps in the community, participate in the local fair, provide discounted diet sessions. Constantly have something new to offer so it keeps a buzz in the practice.
Other Doctors are Not your Competitors
Let’s be honest, there’s a huge market, when you say semi-urban, I’m thinking of a lot of people when you say this. See if you can talk to the other doctor about joining hands. If he’s a different specialty or sub-specialty, you may want to jointly create a program instead of poaching new clients off each other. It’s a sad day if you think there’s a shortage of patients. There’s plenty provided you know to read the market.
Medical facilities don’t advertise their brands. And I think that’s a shame and I don’t even mean, blatant advertisement, you don’t need things like that. Try subtle advertisements, like your church bulletin, your google rankings, your doximity or online reviews, having a website, optimizing it for local business. You have to think of getting new patients, if that is what you want.
The definition of “success” if different for different people. For me seeing 10 patients a day is awesome. For others, they’d like to see forty, for some they want to see particular figures and for others it’s about the results or hospital co-referrals. I’m only trying to say that look at competition as a fairer way to better the market. With the competition, you’ll be forced to improve rather than stagnate and remain the same. That’s how I think you should handle it.