Boosting Your New
Patients must agree to see your new doctor
for you to reap the benefits.
Bob Levoy, O.D.
How do you get patients who are used to seeing
you for their eye care to switch to a young associate you recently hired to
lighten your work load?
At the outset, it's a tough assignment. And with
some patients, an impossible one. The understandable reason: Established
patients, by definition, know and trust you. The problem worsens if your staff
doesn't have much background information about the new associate.
Cutting the cord
Here are some suggestions for getting patients to
see your associate so that you can enjoy a reduced workload:
► Convey to your staff the high regard you
have for your associate's credentials and competence. Impress your staff with
the same qualities that impressed you about her. Even better, schedule the new
associate to perform comprehensive eye exams or contact lens fittings on staff
members. They'll experience first-hand the qualities you admired and thus can
personally recommend her to patients.
► "When I first started in
practice," says Dr. Lydia Gray, of Woodstock, Ill., "my boss took me
out and introduced me to every single patient when they arrived for their
appointments. He said, 'This is my new associate' and made it clear to patients
that he had the utmost confidence in me -- which gave me confidence in
ILLUSTRATION BY SIMON
► Consider sending a letter to all
established patients introducing the new associate and citing the highlights of
her education, previous experience and special recognition along the way. If the
associate has specialized in an aspect of optometry not previously offered in
your practice, then such a letter may stimulate immediate interest for
appointments with her. Include a photograph of the associate with her family and
mention the person's hobbies and community activities. Enable patients to relate
to the associate on a personal level.
► As an alternative, include the same
information on your practice Web site, in a patient newsletter or on a bulletin
board in the reception area of your office. And send a news release to the local
► "You can't just send your new
associate out cold," says Dr. Jim Guenther, of Asheville, N.C., "You
must step forward and show patients that this person is someone you've spent a
lot of time finding, and that you believe she is right for your practice, and
that you have complete confidence in your associate." Set the stage for
► Dr. Gray's first boss asked her for
advice in front of patients, showing them he trusted her judgment. "The
recent graduate may be more up-to-date on certain topics," she says,
"so be big and say, 'My associate knows more about this. Let's ask her.'
It's great for the associate to get a chance to shine."
► Most importantly, encourage your
receptionist to make the associate more readily available than you for
"emergencies" and "same day" appointments -- perhaps adding
(for the hesitant patient): "You're going to really like him."
► If a patient puts you on the spot by
requesting an appointment at a time when you're booked, you can say, "Ms.
Smith, I'm booked pretty heavily right now. If this isn't an emergency, I'd be
happy to see you next week (or whenever). But if you want an appointment sooner,
than my associate, who I introduced to you recently, is available."
These steps will definitely lighten your load and
boost the demand for your new associate.
DR. LEVOY'S NEWEST BOOK, "201 SECRETS OF
A HIGH PERFORMANCE OPTOMETRIC PRACTICE" WAS PUBLISHED BY BUTTERWORTH-HEINEMANN.
YOU CAN REACH HIM BY E-MAIL AT B.LEVOY@ATT.NET.
Optometric Management, Issue: October 2004