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New Physician Office: No Marketing is a Mercedes with No Engine. What to Do Instead.

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Closeup of the front of a carIt’s outrageous to think that someone would purchase a new luxury automobile—a Mercedes or BMW, let’s say—that has no engine. All leather interior, headlamp washers, satellite stereo radio, LCD multimedia package…but without an engine, it doesn’t go anywhere.

Yet we often hear from physicians who have—metaphorically speaking—done exactly that. A new doctor’s office with no marketing is a Mercedes with no engine.

They launch into a new private practice or location, or they are reinventing the group practice, or they need to standup to fierce new competition, or perhaps they are investing capital equipment or medical technology. And they overlooked the primary means to propel the high performance they expect.

We understand that any big change in a private practice is likely to be a near-chaotic process. Something important is bound to get dropped, lost or forgotten. The bigger and more important the change, the greater the risk and worry.

What to do instead…

Fortunately, there’s a fairly straightforward (but frequently overlooked) way to avoid having your shiny new vehicle stalled in the parking lot. Here’s what “in transition” medical practices can do to avoid this problem and realize the return they expect from their investment.

A critical success factor for any significant change is to budget for sufficient marketing support. Since marketing and advertising isn’t free, the challenge is: how to make it affordable? The answer is that most doctors can include the needed funding by wrapping it into the startup costs or the working capital loan.

Why would your lender agree? Commercial financial sources understand that a new building, new equipment or a new medical practice needs to produce sufficient revenue to not only to be profitable, but to securely repay their loan in timely way. The bank or lending organization has a real-world stake in your success.

As we discussed in this previous article, healthcare marketing needs to travel with change; it can't be an afterthought. It’s only good business to look at financing for a marketing program that helps assure success when buying new equipment or opening a new office. What’s more, it doesn't add much to the total investment package, but peace of mind in having the means to generate new patient revenue is priceless.

Feel free to talk to us about your plans. Or you can find more help in this related article: Putting Pencil to Paper for a Realistic Healthcare Organization Marketing Budget. But don't by a new car without an engine.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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