I recently left a clinic to open my own practice as a FNP [Family Nurse Practitioner]. I had been developing a part-time practice on the side for a couple of years, but I kept the job as a steady source of income until I was sure I could make it on my own. I was respectful at my job, not trying to steer patients to my practice.
However, when I announced that I was leaving, I was not allowed to tell my patients where I was going and the clinic has refused to tell people where I am. How can I get my patients to know where I am?
A. First, let me commend you for having the courage to follow your dreams to open a private practice. It takes courage to do this, and for some, one effective way is to start part-time while maintaing your job so that you can build-up the practice.
Before getting into marketing tips, I want to comment on your apparent expectation that the clinic should be willing to tell the patients where you have gone.
I hear this complaint often, and I believe that new business owners don’t realize what they are asking.
The clinic has spend years builing up a patient base. They have advertised, they have formed alliances and partnerships. They have developed referral sources, and they have performed at such a level that presumably the patients are also referring their family and friends for services.
In short, they have done what it takes to build their business.
Now, you want them to send patients to you. In essence, you were asking the clinic not only for free advertising, but also to drain away their patients – and those revenues – to your service.
Come on – you don’t really expect a company to do that, do you?
This may happen when it’s a patient they are glad to be rid of – which means that you probably don’t want them either – OR – (and here’s where you might be able to get your wish) if you are offering a complimentary service and you will send the patient back on completion.
There’s no free ride in building a business. When you have built and developed your business and hired staff, the day will come when someone on your staff wants to go out on their own. You may view this situation a bit differently when you are sitting on the other side of the desk.
Now, on to your question (or a revised version) – how can you let potential patients know you have opened a practice?
Start with a very traditional step. Place a notice in all the local and community newspapers that serve your target market. Send announcements to colleagues and professional associates. Communicate with those you are hoping will become referral sources.
Keep in mind that these steps are just the start of what you’ll need to do to market your business. Most people simply don’t respond to marketing messages until they have been exposed to them from 3 – 7 or more times. In fact, they may not even notice your message the first couple of times.
You’ll find more information on marketing as you read through the material on this website.
Those patients who already know you and your skills from previous experience may be some of the first to come to your new practice. To your surprise, however, some will perceive moving as “too much trouble” to switch to your service.
If the clinic where you worked is lacking in a particular area that you plan to cover, talk to them about getting referrals for these cases. Keep in mind that they will likely want to be assured that you’ll send the patient back.