My name is Dr. Paul Thomas and I’m a Family Medicine doctor in Detroit, Michigan. I own, operate, and am obsessed with my Direct Primary Care practice, called Plum Health! And we deliver affordable, accessible health care services in Detroit, a city with limited primary care resources. We have a mission to provide the best primary care service in Detroit.
I also have a personal mission of helping my Direct Primary Care colleagues build the best DPC practices they can muster. This is a difficult process, building a successful DPC practice, and I want to share some of my best practices so that my colleagues can learn from my mistakes.
In this post, I’m going to write about the importance of building a sales funnel for your practice, i.e. how do you attract patients or members or customers or clients or whatever you want to call them to your business? If you don’t have a plan for how to do this, let this be a wake-up call. Having a sales funnel is a must! And I’m going to show you how to build one.
As a little bit of background, I started Plum Health straight out of residency. I didn’t have a large budget and I don’t have a degree in marketing, but I have gone from 0 patients on November 1st 2016 to 185 patients as of September 20th 2017. We’ve added roughly 20 new members each month and have lost about 3 members each month.
Why You Need a Sales Funnel
How did we grow and how do we continue to grow? We built a sustainable sales funnel, and there are several key aspects to this. But, before we get into what a sales funnel is, you need to know why you need a sales funnel and what you are trying to accomplish by having a sales funnel.
You need a sales funnel to direct people to your service so they can make a purchase. This may be in the form of an online form submission, walking into your office directly, or calling you over the phone.
In order to have an efficient practice, you need to decide how best to convert those interested in your clinic and your services to members of your clinic. At Plum Health, I prefer that folks call me, and once on the phone, I am able to input their information under a new member profile and schedule an appointment.
Specifically, I use my electronic medical record (EMR) to create a new member profile that includes their basic contact info and credit card info. The credit card information is important because it confirms their commitment to the clinic and the concept. They understand that their card will be charged on an ongoing, monthly basis, and for that service charge, they will be able to receive services from the clinic.
I then set up an appointment on Google Calendar and send that meeting/appointment time to their email account of choice. This can also be done via the EMR software, and patients will get a notification email one day prior to their scheduled appointment time. Either or both methods work well.
But, you may be thinking, how do I get people to call our clinic? And why do I prefer phone calls to form submissions and online enrollments?
To begin with, many people have qualms about entering their credit card information online! It is more reassuring for my prospective members to speak directly with the doctor and understand that they are going to be well taken care of. They don’t have to worry about a security breach if they are giving their information directly to their future physician.
Second, the enrollment form for my EMR electronic medical record is roughly 20 pages long. Consider the following: for every page that someone has to fill out, you will lose 50% of your potential customers. At 1 page, you’ll retain 50% of folks who start, 25% for 2 pages, 12.5% for 3 pages, 6.25% for 4 pages, 3.125% for 5 pages, etc… Therefore, the people who complete your online signup form are both extremely dedicated to your brand or your service offering and technically savvy.
To compensate for this attrition, my website easily captures email addresses and comments. I have an email capture form on each page of my website, and I entice submissions by offering an e-book about direct primary care. I also have a one-page form that people can fill out if they have a simple question.
That being said, I optimize my webpage for phone calls. Over half of the people who call me will want to schedule an appointment and about 75% of those people who call and come in for their appointment will become members of Plum Health.
How do I optimize my webpage for phone calls? My office phone number, which dials my cell phone via Google Voice, is all over my website. It’s on my front page, it’s on the contact us page, and it’s on the enrollment page. And the phone number is hyperlinked, so if you’re browsing our website on your cell phone, you can click on the phone number and it will dial directly from the webpage. The potential patient does not have to enter the digits into their phone app. At Plum Health, we try to keep things automated, simple, and easy to use.
The Logistics of Building A Sales Funnel
So, you want to drive prospective customers to your website? The best way to do this is to create compelling and engaging content. This may be a story about your clinic, your mission, vision, and values, an event that you’ve participated in recently, why you picked the brand name for your clinic, etc.
There are hundreds of topics that you can write about that are interesting, that your neighbors and potential customers will want to read about. Here’s a softball: why did you leave an employed position with a guaranteed paycheck to become a direct primary care doctor? Bonus points: talk about what you’re afraid of, show your vulnerability, and allow people to get to know who you are as a person and what motivates you.
I’ll go first: I’m scared as hell that my Direct Primary Care practice won’t work out. But, I have already made people’s lives in my community measurably better, and to fail now would not be a complete failure. But, I digress.
Writing great content, having great images, and shooting videos to accompany this content will drive people to your website. The best way to display this content is on your blog. Engage people on your blog by talking about the above-mentioned subjects as well as topical issues in health care.
Then, share this content across your social media sites – post it to your Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn feed, Google Plus, and/or Google for Business. It will take you about an hour to write good content, but after that hour, it will only take you 15 minutes to share it across your social media platforms. If you don’t have these platforms, you should consider setting up only as many accounts as you can reasonably manage. I stick to the above accounts, but if you feel strongly about Instagram or SnapChat or others, venture forth!
Here’s a basic description of that sales funnel:
You can monitor the effectiveness of your sales funnel by keeping tabs on your web traffic. After I distribute my blog post across these social media platforms, I watch my SquareSpace account under the “Analytics” tab, seen here:
To give some context to the above image, I pushed out a blog post about the Tour de Troit on Sunday evening. Tuesday morning, I pushed out another blog post about an award I keep on my shelf. Thursday night, I pushed out a third post about an event that I took part in called Detroit Homecoming. These help to drive traffic to the website, and I noticed an up-tick in my phone calls, emails, and new patient sign-ups during this week.
And that’s the point! You can add more members to your practice by publishing thoughtful content on a regular basis.
If you want to take this to the next level, there are a few key practices that you can implement. First, you can analyze where the web traffic is coming from. For me, I get the most traffic from my Facebook account. How do I know? I keep track of it on my SquareSpace account:
Once you know which social media platform is your best traffic source, you can create targeted advertising on that platform. In Facebook, that looks like a ‘boosted post’. I wrote another blog post about that, and you can find it here.
In the more advanced method of getting folks to sign up, you can create a splash page, and then create content or advertisements to direct folks to your splash page. They will then input their email address or phone number, and you can use that information to reach them and invite them to enroll in your service. This is probably worth exploring further in a future blog post, but I wanted to at least introduce the concept.
Here’s what you can do today to build your sales funnel.
- Have a sales goal in mind: More phone calls? More online enrollments? More walk-ins?
- Optimize your website for the above sales goal.
- Set up a blog on your website if you don’t already have one.
- Start writing engaging, thoughtful content on your blog.
- Include pictures and/or videos to enrich your content.
- Share these blog posts across your social media platforms.
- Monitor your web traffic based on the above, and adjust accordingly.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if these strategies are not working for you, and your membership growth is stagnant, you need to come up with a new strategy. It may be different for each doctor depending on the size of their network, number of social media contacts, city or region.