What DCs can learn from big business pipeline management in regard to sales conversion rate lessons
A sales pipeline is a term thrown around in sales organizations; think of it as a funnel with leads coming in the top, moving through various stages until there is a sale. In health care these same sales conversion rate principles apply to a prospective patient who may have found your office via:
- Your website
- Internet advertising
- A referral from a patient or referral partner
- An educational workshop for patients and guests
- A spinal screening
Most offices want more new patients, but they let too many potential new patients fall through the cracks either by a lack of follow-up before or after scheduling an appointment. Stages are the different milestones a potential new patient moves through on the way to becoming a long-term patient. These stages often include:
- Inquiry prior to making an appointment
- Day 1 appointment
- Day 2 appointment
- Day 3 appointment
- Start active care treatment plan
- Maintenance/wellness care
Some offices use spreadsheets to track these milestones, some use CRM (customer relationship management) software, and other offices claim that all of their patients leave with a follow-up appointment.
Why should you take the time to follow up with potential new patients and existing patients? Well, if you are like most doctors, you want to help more people and run a successful business. Patients are busy just like the rest of us and proper follow-up is how you help more people get the care they need.
If you want to give your office an honest assessment, look at the last 50 new patients who came through your door and determine what happened to them. How many of those 50 new patients are still coming in? This is an eye-opening experience for most doctors. Imagine if you had a list of all the patients who inquired about your office but never made an appointment. With proper follow-up, you probably would have had an improves sales conversion rate and even more potential new patients come through the door.
Sales conversion rate: where is your lead info going?
I’ve worked with doctors who found out that all of their website lead information was being sent to an email address that no one ever checked, and they never followed up with any of the potential new patients. I have gone through this exercise with doctors who thought that 80% of their patients were committed to a care plan, only to find out that 50% or more stopped coming into the office after a few visits and that there was no attempt by the staff to reach out to any of them.
Some doctors say they could have better new-patient statistics but feel that it requires sales tactics to reach that sales conversion rate that makes them uncomfortable. I have found that, in most cases, if you follow up regularly and care about the people you are trying to help, you will likely see your numbers improve without any hard selling.
Being a good “salesperson” is really about problem-solving (diagnosis) and painting a picture of the future for the patient (recommendation for treatment), and getting them to follow through on the treatment (trust, compliance and empathy) — and then the improved sales conversion rate follows. It really is that simple to follow up with leads and new patients by showing them you care and converting them to lifetime patients.
So, how do you keep track of all of these new patients? Many offices use notes and spreadsheets for tracking.
If you want to make your own spreadsheet, you will need several columns to track important information. Here is what it can include:
- Patient Name
- Office Inquiry Date
- First Visit Date (if applicable)
- Next Visit Date
- Follow-Up Date
- Outcome Status (drop-down selection)
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3
- Not now/not interested
- Started treatment
- TOS (time of service payment)
- Internal notes
- Not rescheduled letter mailed
- Welcome letter
- Invited to new patient workshop
- Attended new patient workshop
If you set new follow-up dates regularly, this report can be sorted and reviewed daily. The beauty of using a spreadsheet is that you can sort by various columns to quickly identify important information. Let’s review some of this information below:
Office Inquiry Date — This is the date a potential new patient showed interest in coming to your clinic. The goal is to schedule a new-patient appointment for each of these people. They may have been referred by a friend, searched for help online or seen one of your advertisements. Many of these inquiries come from people who are looking for a solution to their problem. Following up with these people (also known as leads) for a few weeks is definitely worth your time. Some marketing gurus recommend following up forever, but I find that following up for 1-4 weeks with calls, emails and text messages is sufficient. Potential new patients who are referred to you by their friends and family are more likely to schedule an appointment than those who saw your advertisement while scrolling through social media. Similarly, people who have researched you online, read content you produced and visited your website require very little effort to schedule because they were actively looking for help and chose you.
First Visit Date — date of new-patient appointment or consultation.
Next Visit Date — Make sure your patients have a next visit date. This may be a Day 2 or a Day 3 appointment or a visit that is part of their treatment plan. If they do not have their next appointment scheduled before they leave the office, it is very likely you may never see that patient again! Some patients stop coming because they are busy or have financial issues or possibly because they did not understand your recommendations for their care. Discuss these concerns while the patient is in the office so you can find a solution together.
Follow-up Date — Following up with leads and new patients is critical in a chiropractic office. Often people will ask you to call them in a week or two. Use this column to set dates to remind you when to follow up with each person. Not only does this show the patients that you are listening to them, but it also demonstrates how organized your office is and that you care. For people who have not responded to previous follow-up messages, try reaching out to them in a different way (text vs. email vs. phone call) or at a different time of day.
Improve your conversion rates
It is unrealistic to expect that 100% of your potential new patients will turn into patients and start on a treatment plan, but you can certainly improve your conversion rates with a little bit of organization and follow-up.
Assign a staff member to be in charge of using this report to follow up with leads and new patients and you will quickly see fewer patients fall through the cracks. More patient visits equates to more revenue and allows you to help more people.
NAOTA HASHIMOTO, DC, is the co-founder of TrackStat, activity-based software that gives real-time feedback of where your patients are so you can identify positive or negative trends in your practice. This tracking boosts your stats and features automated emails, texts, reviews and scheduling to solve all of the chiropractor’s needs. Visit trackstat.org/pt-tracker for a free tracking spreadsheet for your practice.