ADAPTING TO YOUR PATIENTS PAIN POINTS
Slowly but surely, the country is beginning to transition itself to the “new normal”. Restrictions are beginning to be lifted in different states, allowing aesthetic businesses to reopen their doors and begin seeing patients again. Although we are still crawling and far from running, a few trends have already emerged in the post-coronavirus reality that savvy practices are taking advantage of. One is the prominence that virtual meetings have carved out in our everyday lives. From virtual schooling for our children, to late night zoom parties with friends, the convenience and safety of online meetings is irreplaceable. The other trend is the overwhelming sense of anxiety and uncertainty that people are facing regarding their jobs, family, and safety. A small group of forward-looking plastic surgeons have capitalized on these trends to differentiate their business and increase the amount of new patients they convert.
A WIN/WIN FOR YOUR BUSINESS AND YOUR PATIENTS
A recent Symplast survey found that only 20% of plastic surgery practices were offering after-hours virtual consultations. That means that as we speak, 80% of your competitors are NOT offering this as an option for prospects and patients. In the deluge of inbound inquiries to come during the first few frenzied months of the new normal, it is critical that your practice seizes as many leads as possible to expedite your ramp-up and also capture new market share.
There are many consumers who are not able to easily schedule a consultation during regular working hours. Add to that the chaos and uncertainty that accompanies employees transitioning back to their offices, dealing with kids at home, and shifts in consumer behavior; and it’s easy to see that you as a business owner are leaving money on the table by not at least attempting to offer after-hours virtual consultations. The good news is that in the same Symplast survey, 45% of respondents stated that they were interested in pursuing after-hours virtual consultations. That is both good news and bad news, because it means the secret is getting out.
As a small-business owner, the benefits of offering after-hours virtual consultations are fairly obvious:
- You can deliver even more convenience to your patients
- You can separate your brand from the competition (critical in a saturated market)
- You can incorporate a new lead generation channel at no added expense
- You can offer this without hiring any additional employees or paying overtime
HOW TO BEGIN OFFERING AFTER-HOURS VIRTUAL CONSULTATIONS
There has never been a better time to try out after-hours virtual consultations than there is today. Many aesthetic businesses were forced to furlough or lay off staff members; almost all were forced to adapt to working remotely. As a practice owner or administrator, you need to reexamine every single employee’s responsibilities and make sure they are updated to be relevant for the post-COVID landscape. One obvious opportunity lies with your patient coordinators. As working from home becomes more prevalent, a popular option is to communicate with your coordinator and work together to adjust their 40 hour work week so that 8 hours of every week, they are working remotely and conducting after-hours virtual consultations alongside you. Or, if necessary, the MD can perform them themselves (a very logical option for many solo practices).
If utilizing a staff member, a recommended schedule would be to experiment with an adjusted work week. For example, the staff member works regular business hours Monday through Thursday, then works an additional 2 hours remotely each night from 6pm – 8pm where they are populating their schedule with virtual consultations, and has Friday’s off. Again, this is one of many ways it can be approached. The point is to look at every staff member’s role in a new light, mixing and matching what is required to be in-office vs. what can be achieved more efficiently remotely.
If you are unable to do these after-hours consultations yourself, and your staff members are unable to, then look into hiring a freelancer or former coordinator who may have been let go during the COVID pandemic and is looking for some new work opportunities.
LIMITED WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
Every successful entrepreneur possesses a sense of vision and foresight. These have been unprecedented times, and those practices who stay nimble and adapt to the constant changes are the ones who will thrive.
There is a very finite window of opportunity for your business to grab an inordinate amount of value from after-hours virtual consultations. As health concerns fluctuate, and patient anxiety ebbs and flows with each new breaking story or COVID-19 update, after-hours virtual consultations will soon become a standard offering that most aesthetic practices incorporate into their business plan. Now is the time to begin using this secret tactic for YOUR practice. Experiment with different day and time windows to see where the sweet spot is.
Above all, be sure to adequately promote this new convenient option in your marketing efforts and on your website so that would-be patients are aware. Publish a press release touting the fact that your practice is sensitive to the fluid nature of life right now and is proud to offer more convenience for people. If you use an online scheduling tool such as the Online Appointment Request feature that is included with Symplast, consider adding a new location to your online scheduler specifically just for after-hours consultations. Customize the provider and appointment type availabilities for that new location to streamline the execution of this new sales channel.
Still not sure how to turn after-hours virtual consultations into a reality for your aesthetic business? Check out this free on-demand webinar featuring Symplast CEO/CTO Facundo Formica as well as Symplast Customer Success Manager Greg Hartle for some ideas. And of course, never hesitate to reach out to us for tips and guidance.