Dreams Are Free.
Goals Have A Cost.
Time, Effort, Sacrifice And Sweat.
How Will You Pay For Your Goals?
Everyone has dreams.
Dreams are easy.
Whenever I tell people that I have left the NHS and I am now in full time private practice, pretty much everyone I speak to looks at me and says:
I wish I could do that.
It is a shame really because there was a time when people would think you were crazy to leave a full-time permanent NHS consultant job before retirement age.
But now people look in envy and most wish they could do the same.
Since I have started talking to people about developing their private practice I have realised there is a big difference between dreams and goals.
Everyone has a dream, this is a good thing.
You might want to reduce or completely cut your NHS commitment.
You might want to pay off your mortgage or move house, get a nicer car or put your children through private school.
These are things that we all dream of.
Having more money or more free time or both.
If you ask most people if they would like to earn more and work less – it is a ‘yes’.
It is easy to dream about these things.
But it is another matter if you actually think about and set goals that will allow you to achieve you dream and even more difficult still to ensure that you achieve your goals.
You see, goals are tangible and specific outcomes.
Goals are things that you can be held accountable to.
Goals are hard and most people would rather just dream because it is a lot easier.
Perhaps your dream is to drop two sessions in the NHS.
Well if you want to achieve that dream what would need to happen?
Perhaps you need to make more money in your private practice to account for the shortfall in your salary.
So, how much more money would you need to make, an extra £1,000 a month, say?
So, what would need to happen to make an extra £1,000 a month?
Do you know what your average customer value is?
Maybe you need to treat an extra one or two patients every month.
How many more people would you need to see in clinic in order to generate one or two extra operations?
Do you know what the conversion rate for outpatient appointment to operation is?
Perhaps you need to see 4 more people that month.
So how many more enquiries would you need in order to generate 4 more initial consultations?
Do you know what your conversion rate from enquiry to consultation is?
Perhaps you need 20 more enquiries every month.
That is 5 more enquiries every week.
Now you have a goal.
If you can regularly and predictably get 5 more enquiries every week, you should be able to generate enough financial stability to drop the NHS sessions and achieve your dream.
Of course, you need to monitor it and make sure the new enquiries you generate are as good a quality as previous enquiries to make sure that your conversion rates are representative and that it all filters through to the increase in revenue or profit that you have forecast.
Of course it does not end there.
The next step is to think about how you are going to generate an average of 5 new enquiries per week every week.
How do you generate enquiries now?
Have you even thought about that?
I will always maintain your best source of enquiries is your current database, both of patients and GPs.
This is the first place to go if you want to build your practice.
The last place most people think of is your easiest and cheapest source of income.
A good source of new patients is by holding a free consultation event.
It is amazing that although many people offer free consultations in their normal clinics, if you start advertising that you are holding a free consultation event, you are much more likely to get patients to attend.
Make it an evening event to make it sound more special.
You do not necessarily have to lay on anything too fancy – you could just have it as part of your normal clinic.
Of course you need to get people to attend and again you cannot just wish this to happen.
You need to set goals.
Make a goal of say three people. You should be able to get three people to come to your event shouldn’t you?
How are you going to get those three people?
Start by inviting your current database.
Send out an email or a letter to all the patients on your database letting them know that you are having a free consultation evening.
Ideally you will have segmented your database (will will talk about this at the next meeting).
You will have a group of patients who have enquired but never come to the clinic and these are the ones that might be worth writing to if you have their address.
You will also have those who have already been to your clinic and so you might write to these and ask them to bring along or recommend the event to a friend.
You could make your consultation event have a theme.
If you are an orthopaedic surgeon, it could be patients with knee pain or if you a dermatologist, it could be skin lesions.
You could write to the GPs to let them know you are holding this free event and maybe include some cards or flyers to leave in the waiting room for their patients.
These sort of things take time and effort to think about and execute.
And you need to monitor the response.
It is hard work to start off with but if it works, it is the sort of thing you can repeat every month, perhaps changing the topic of the event.
So that is your plan to get an extra three patients a month – where do you get the other two from?
What about people who have enquired over the last month or two and for whatever reason you have not been able to get hold of.
Would it be worth giving them another call?
Let me answer that question for you: Yes it would!
What about people who came to see you in the last few months who said they would go away and have a think about it.
What about the DNAs, have you followed up with them at all?
These are all great cheap sources of patients.
They are cheap because they have already found you and made an appointment to see you so you have got their contact details.
Everyone is busy and if you are in a competitive speciality patients might well be receiving topical and relevant information on an ongoing basis from your competitors and so it is easy for them to forget about you unless you remind them.
Again this sort of thing is difficult to start off with but if you find a system that works, you can just implement it into your practice so that you automatically contact patients a week after they have enquired or a month after they have been to the clinic to check in with them and see if they need any more help or information.
You will be surprised at how effective this is in improving your conversion rates. It also shows you to be a caring person and it is reassuring to the patient that you are engaged and contacting them to give them the sense that they will be looked after afterwards if they do choose to have the procedure with you.
Do not just take my word for all of this, try it yourself.
If you do try it, make sure you have a baseline of numbers before you start so you know whether it is making a difference or not.
You need to look at the events at every step of your practice and you need to measure and monitor these regularly, at a minimum monthly (if you don’t know what these are – download my free guide below).
You see, I never said this was going to be easy.
It takes hard work and sweat which is why most people do not do it and they just continue to dream about financial freedom or a busy successful practice.
If you really want to make changes in your life you need to have goals, not dreams.
You need to hold yourself accountable to those goals and if you do not reach the goals take a look back at them and break them down as much as possible into constituent parts to see where you need to improve things.
Is it that people were not taking action on the email or letter you sent out, talking about the consultation evening?
In which case you need to change the letter, change the people you send it to or make it specific for a particular topic or ailment or not make it specific for a particular topic and make it general.
Is it because you were trying to follow-up on patients who have enquired and you could not get hold of them?
Do you need to send them a text or do you need an alternative method of contact?
On your contact form, do you ask for email and/or phone.
You do not want to ask for too much information, but perhaps some people prefer the options.
If you cannot get someone on a mobile phone number, do you text them?
Do you realise the email open rates are usually around 20-30% whereas text open rates are around 90% in the first five minutes.
You heard that right, in the first five minutes!
Text open rates are not only massively higher but they get read straightaway.
If you are not utilising text messages you should be.
You see this stuff is not simple and you may not get results straightaway.
You may have to tweak things and change tack.
General Eisenhower said:
Plans Are Useless, But Planning is Indispensable
Or as Mike Tyson said:
Everyone Has A Plan ‘Till They Get Punched In The Mouth
We need to be prepared to change our plans if we are going to achieve our goals.
If you do not have any goals, you will not have any plans.
If you do not have any plans, all you have is dreams and dreams are nice but they do not count for anything.
If I have put you off making goals and making a difference then that is fine, carry on as you are.
There is no shame in that, but do not be surprised if you are in about the same position this time next year as you are now.
If you want to make changes you have to do something about it.
Remember Einstein said:
The Definition Of Insanity Is Doing The Same Thing Over And Over And Expecting A Different Result
Make plans, make changes, make a difference.
“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.”