Do you dream of having a line of patients waiting eagerly at the door of your physical therapy practice? Do you wish that your phone was ringing off the hook?
No matter how skilled you are as a physical therapist, growth will be a challenge if you don’t execute the tasks that attract new patients.
In this guide, we’ll show you seven proven ways to grow a physical therapy practice.
Get Solid Marketing in Place
The first step in growing your physical therapy practice is to have a marketing plan. If you’re just starting out in the physical therapy field, you’ll need to do some research and self-reflection to understand market conditions as well as your strengths and weaknesses.
At a minimum, begin with these steps:
1. Conduct market research: What is the size and demographic makeup of the area you serve? Are there any trends to be aware of that can positively or negatively affect your growth prospects?
2. Define your target market: Which segment or segments of the population do you want to serve and why?
3. Set your positioning: Do you want to be a premium provider, or do you prefer to be a low-cost leader? Is there a patient niche that you want to serve?
4. Study the competition: How much competition do you have? How strong are your competitors? Do they have any weaknesses?
5. Craft a marketing strategy: This part of the plan helps you define how you’ll acquire customers. You’ll need a website, and you may also want to consider adding social media, direct mail, events, content, webinars, etc.
6. Set a budget: Determine how much you can spend on marketing initiatives each month. It can be difficult to estimate your return on investment initially, so you’ll want to track expenditures and see how much revenue your marketing efforts yield.
7. Track metrics: Define the KPIs (key performance indicators) that demonstrate success. For example, if you want to attract 20 new patients per month, check to see which of your marketing efforts brought in the most patients and why. Can you adjust your other marketing endeavors? Should you scale one and trim the other? By tracking metrics, you’ll be able to make informed decisions.
Once you have a plan in place, you can focus on other strategies discussed below.
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Nurture Referral Relationships
When we think of referrals, we tend to picture having patients sing our praises and bring their families and friends into the practice. However, with physical therapy, the focus on referrals should be with other physicians and businesses, not necessarily with existing patients.
There are a few different ways to nurture referral relationships:
1. Partner with other local physicians to refer patients to each other. Resist the temptation to silo yourself and think that by sharing your patient base, you’re somehow giving something up. Instead, these partnerships can result in rapid growth, especially if you’re committed to acting in good faith and in a way that puts your patients first.
The types of physicians you can network with include orthopedic surgeons, general practitioners, internal medicine doctors, and chiropractors. However, any physician could be a mutually beneficial referral service.
For example, let’s say you’re working with a patient who was injured in an accident, and he’s having a difficult time coming to terms with how his daily routine has been affected. You could potentially refer this patient to a psychologist or psychiatrist. On the flip side, a mental health professional can also refer patients to you who are experiencing physical pain combined with their mental distress.
2. Collaborate with other physical therapists and providers. If you have a specialty or a preferred type of patient, you can refer patients to other therapists. In turn, those therapists can refer patients to you that fit within your specialization. This allows you to focus more on the cases that you enjoy while simultaneously growing your practice.
Your referral partners don’t have to be limited to other physicians, either. Consider partnering with massage therapists, acupuncturists, and even yoga instructors to get new patients.
3. Get involved in the community. Volunteer at walkathons and other events that focus on awareness of a condition or raise funds for charity. Not only will you feel satisfied that you’re helping a cause, but you can also make valuable connections.
Consider Digital Marketing
As a physical therapist, it’s unlikely that you spend your free time delving into digital marketing, and there’s a lot to learn that goes beyond the scope of this article.
However, once you’re aware of your options, you can ask your staff to engage in digital marketing efforts, or you can hire a freelancer or agency to help you implement successful strategies.
When it comes to digital marketing, don’t feel like you have to do it all. Instead, by focusing on a few key areas, you can leverage growth without an inordinate amount of expense and effort.
We recommend that physical therapy practices implement the following digital marketing strategies:
1. Facebook Ads: Most adults are on this social media platform, and Facebook allows you to target people based on age, gender, location, interests, and even lifestyle choices. In addition to giving you advanced targeting options, Facebook tends to be relatively inexpensive, especially compared to advertising on television, radio, and print.
With Facebook ads, you can create an ad and have it in front of your audience within 24 hours. You’ll get data very quickly, so you can adjust your ad creative and targeting in minutes. This flexibility is simply not available on traditional media platforms.
2. Google Ads: When people want to find out something, 92.47% of them turn to Google for answers. Naturally, this also includes searches for local physical therapists.
The advantage of Google Ads is that your ads are only shown to people looking specifically for physical therapists. What’s more, you don’t pay a dime unless someone clicks on your ad. Because Google Ads is an intent-based platform, it has the potential to bring in the highest number of qualified leads at the lowest price.
3. SEO: Unlike Facebook and Google Ads, where you have to pay to be seen, SEO (search engine optimization) is a marketing tactic designed to ensure that your website shows up at the top of the search engines.
It involves creating keyword-rich content, securing backlinks (this is also where nurturing referral relationships comes in), and optimizing your website for mobile devices.
4. Email Marketing: Email marketing can have the highest ROI (return on investment) compared to other marketing strategies. Reports show that for every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect to get $36 to $44 back in return.
There are a few different ways to utilize email marketing effectively. One is to do lead generation on your website. The other is to send email newsletters to your current patients and ask for referrals and testimonials.
You can also “nurture” your current contacts by sending valuable and educational information, including nutritional tips, exercise advice, etc.
Use a Communication Platform
Most physical therapy practices are small businesses, which typically means that your staff has to wear many different hats. It can be challenging for a small team to manage the phones, billing, patient follow-up, appointment confirmations, and reviews.
You already know that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And, if you’ve gone through all the effort to establish a digital marketing strategy, it does your practice zero good if your office phone rings without being answered or you don’t have the means to follow up with interested patients.
A potential solution is to implement Weave, a communication platform for physical therapy practices. This all-in-one solution can handle every single touchpoint with patients outside the office, providing them with a delightful experience.
The suite includes applications like missed call texting, electronic physical therapy forms, online scheduling, remote communications, email marketing, and more to equip you with the tools you need to grow.
Offer Fantastic Service
It goes without saying that being the best at what you do can naturally lead to organic growth. After all, the better you are as a physical therapist, the better your patient outcomes will be.
In addition to being a skilled technician, it’s also important to provide five-star service. Patients should be treated like VIPs in every interaction they have with you. This includes calling or texting your office, checking in for an appointment, and of course, the therapy sessions themselves.
Another way to differentiate your service is to choose a niche where you focus your marketing and communication efforts. Niching down doesn’t mean that you have to turn patients away. Your physical therapy practice can still remain inclusive.
What we are recommending is choosing a niche and creating content and advertising campaigns that highlight it. It’s also a good idea to adjust your website to promote that you specialize in that area.
Potential ideas include:
1. Obesity management
2. Musicians and performance artists
3. Animal and wilderness medicine
4. Kids and Teens
6. Women’s health
Hire Great Employees
The employees you hire are a direct reflection of your skills, values, and professionalism. There’s a Harvard Business Review article that discusses the importance of being slow to hire and fast to fire, which goes even more in-depth on hiring practices.
The phrase “slow to hire, fast to fire” means that you should be intentional in your hiring. Don’t draft an offer letter to the first person who applies for the job without doing due diligence. At a minimum, check their qualifications and references. It’s also wise to ensure that they’re a fit for your office culture and respect (and align with) your mission and vision.
Though money isn’t everything, you can recruit top talent by offering a competitive salary. Retention comes through giving your team the tools they need to be successful. You’ll also want to demonstrate your appreciation for their efforts and create an environment of trust, respect, and transparency.
And finally, ensure that your physical therapy practice continues to improve by providing continuing education and coaching opportunities for your staff.
Replace Yourself from Practice Operations
As you grow, there will inevitably come a time when you hit a plateau. The reason is that you can only see so many patients in a week, and once you hit capacity, your growth stalls.
One way to grow exponentially is to clone yourself. By bringing on more physical therapists, you can naturally see more patients. Eventually, you can even cut your hours or remove yourself from the day-to-day operations. Instead of being a PT, you become more like a CEO.
Whether you’re brand-new to physical therapy or you’ve got a mature office, optimizing patient communication can positively affect on your bottom line.
Weave offers an easy-to-use platform for physical therapists that has the tools you need to attract patients, improve communication, and provide them with a positive experience. Schedule a free demo today.