Winning new patients depends on your value proposition

July 1, 2009

Increasing market share for your practice includes an honest assessment of the benefits your practice brings to prospective patients. Consider their needs and preferences carefully to help you devise a value proposition that will make your practice their top choice.

Key Points

In the marketing world, the ratio of the number of patients you see in proportion to the total number of patients available is known as your practice's market share. In business, building market share is a key concern and major activity. Most businesses can increase their market share by reviewing and updating the benefits the business offers clients and prospective customers.

How does an optometrist build market share? Just as other businesses do: Review and update the benefits your practice offers patients and prospective patients. Be sure to consider benefits from more than one perspective. Remember: you are not trying to win over yourself; you are trying to win over the new patient.

Always consider that any practice's value proposition is written from the customer's perspective, not the practice's. Therefore, while you complete this exercise, it is important to remember that it is not about you. Rather, it is about the needs and wants of the prospective patient. As a result, your value proposition should include only those things that are important to your targeted patients.

Develop your value proposition

Logically, then, begin by considering how you will gather the information. This is no casual exercise and must be considered deliberately and seriously. If you were to ask them-and you should, what would your prospective patients tell you they want from you? What are the important points they consider when choosing a caregiver? What benefits do they consider most important? Least important?

Also interview patients who have stopped coming to you, and ask them why they chose to go elsewhere. This, admittedly, is a painful exercise but one that is well worth the pain because, as the old retail adage goes, customers vote with their feet.

Finally, keep in mind that eye health-care consumers have many choices. Subconsciously, consumers weigh those choices on a mental scale, a balance. When the benefits of visiting one eye-care provider clearly outweigh the benefits of visiting another, the practice with the most benefits tends to win the most patients. It also helps to consider that value comes to an eye health-care consumer in many forms: fees, savings of time, convenience, location, quality of the service received, quality of the products purchased, hours of operation, warranties, etc. The list goes on.

Write it down

After you have completed and considered all these points, try to complete the following sentence: "My practice will bring value to patients by..." It may feel a little strange, but write down your responses.

If you find that your pen has "said" things you did not expect it to say, you will have gotten a lot out of this exercise. You also may find that your customers want some things-such as more convenient hours, online contact lens ordering, more managed vision care participation-that you cannot or do not currently provide. If so, then that is a call for you to take an honest inventory of the competencies in your practice and its policies. From there, you can create a strategic plan for growth and improvement.

Arthur De Gennaro is president of Arthur De Gennaro & Associates LLC, an ophthalmic practice management firm that specializes in optical dispensary issues. De Gennaro is the author of The Dispensing Ophthalmologist. He may be reached at 803/359-7887, arthur@adegennaro.com, or through the company's Web site, http://www.adegennaro.com/.

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