Why approaching a GP is NOT always the best way to attract new business

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By far the biggest issue for small private practices is marketing. Once you’ve established some initial contacts and worked with a client or two, you’ll probably find yourself asking these familiar questions:
 

  • Where do I get new business from?
  • How can I keep a flow of business coming?
  • How can I establish myself with a good reputation amongst people who can refer to me?

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that one of your main routes to market is via a GP. If you pitch yourself well, your availability (and cheaper fees) might get you noticed. There’s no harm in letting local GPs know that you’re setting up a practice. Speak to the practice manager at a GP; target one per week. You might not get in, but you’ll get noticed, and will be on their radar.
Often you’ll try and get into a GP and the shutters will just go down. They typically have their own internal practitioners and they will have rented out their rooms to therapists for evening and private work. Obviously a GP’s first allegiance will be to them.
Marketing a private practice requires more than just producing a leaflet, leaving it in your GP’s waiting room and hoping someone sees it. You need to do things differently to get ahead. One of the best ways to provide an effective solution is by understanding where the ‘pain points’ lie.
So you need to be thinking: who else might use my services/skills? Who else can I approach?
If you’re a psychologist, for example, there are rehabilitation companies and large companies that you can approach in search of work. Large companies will typically have their own internal occupational health departments. When employees have health problems, these companies will look to refer them to rehabilitation companies or individual specialists to provide care.
Another route to new business is via agencies and directories. Think about how someone might search for treatment. Beyond visiting a GP, someone searching Google for a local psychotherapist will often gravitate towards a professional organisation, which has an accredited list of private practitioners – think UKCP, The UK Council for Psychotherapy (http://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/) or BACP, the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (http://www.bacp.co.uk/).You should be on these lists too.
Again, think about how people find treatment for their problems, follow the path they might take and make sure you’re visible to people who could benefit from your services.
With all this talk of making new contacts, it’s important not to forget the contacts you already have. Be sure to draw upon previous training or work experience and leverage any contacts you have there.
Let people you’ve worked with know that you now have a private practice and that you’re offering reasonable rates. Make the most of your existing connections. Don’t be embarrassed about it. After all, you’re running a business.
For lots more marketing tips and advice, visit The Private Practice Hub.
What are your experiences of approaching GPs? Let us know below.