What Can Doctors Learn From A Grocery Store?

While there are obvious differences between a vein practice and a grocery store, with a grocery store selling products to consumers and a medical practice providing healthcare services to a patient, they both need to attract continued interest to generate revenue and inspire loyalty in order to grow. Grocery stores operate on a larger scale and with bigger budgets than most medical practices, but some of their methods can be transferred to healthcare.

Direct to Consumer Marketing 
Driving new patients through your door is a vital part of growing your revenue. You can attract more people into your practice by how you externally market your services to patients that have freedom of choice to choose their healthcare provider. The key to success is knowing your market and being aware of what consumers are looking for and what your competitors are offering.

Grocery stores will rarely have the same print ads for more than a few days, they keep their offers fresh and in line with what is happening locally and seasonally. So, rather than having the same billboards or digital marketing campaigns, align your medical practice marketing with consumer needs at a particular time of the week or year. For example, for dual income families, evening hours a few times per month may increase your number of consultations or procedures. Marketing “summer legs are made in the winter” may increase consults, procedures, and/or cosmetic sclerotherapy in January and February, traditionally slow months in a vein practice.

Building Patient Loyalty
It’s not all just about attracting new patients, but, more importantly, making sure your current patients are satisfied and will continue recommending you to new patients along the way. Grocery stores are constantly battling to retain their customers who know they can easily buy the same product from another store. Vein practices don’t have quite the same problem, as patients don’t often regularly visit different vein practices, so they don’t have the same insight into your competition. Unless they are unhappy with the way they were treated during their initial visit to your practice.

Are you confident that if they were to step inside another practice that they wouldn’t want to leave yours?  Might the other practice have a newer facility, friendlier staff, more positive environment? A good exercise is to think, if your patient(s) could walk out the door and get exactly the same services at another vein practice in the area, would they choose to stay with you? Never take your patients for granted. If you can identify areas within your processes or services offered that need to be improved, be proactive and take steps to fix them.

Apply the same philosophy to your staff, Richard Branson has been quoted on numerous occasions that his personnel philosophy is to “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”.

Understanding Your Competition 
The grocery industry is incredibly competitive. They are, and have to be, very good at knowing what their competitors are doing, what prices they are selling their goods at, and what products they are advertising to get consumers in their store.

Vein practices should be keeping a similar eye on what other vein practices in their area are up to. There are times when you might be able to benefit from their marketing activity. For instance, if a practice in your area is advertising consultations on the radio, why not market your clinical training and experience by offering 2nd opinions or marketing patient testimonials? Your competitor’s radio ads will have raised awareness of the treatment locally, you are now letting people know that you provide that treatment and have experience and satisfied patients – it could be you who reaps the reward of your competitors advertising!

None of the tactics mentioned above require huge amounts of financial investment, but they can be very effective in keeping your patient list, and income, growing. The key here is to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening locally, what your competitors are doing, and then seek to capitalize on that to build a stronger and more successful practice.

Next time you visit a grocery store, think about your experience, why have you chosen to visit that particular store? What does their brand mean to you? Crucially, what items do you walk out with that weren’t on your shopping list? How much more have you spent than if you’d stuck to your original shopping list?

…Then think about if you can apply any of that experience to your practice.

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