Strategies to Grow your Referring Physician Client Base
In today’s turbulent market of declining reimbursement and increased regulation, it is essential to have strategies in place to maintain and grow your referring physician client base. Pathology and laboratory groups nationwide, including your competitors, are looking for ways to expand their business which means they are targeting your clients and potential prospects.
Below are 5 strategies to help create a sustainable competitive advantage:
- Know the Details of Your Market. Who are your clients, what is their specialty, where are they located, and why are they utilizing you? Who are your top clients and what percentage of referring physician business do they represent. And equally as important is who are not your clients and why? Is it because they are owned by a hospital, performing procedures in house or using a competitor? Are they a prospect or a target? Who are your competitors and what are they offering? Establish strong relationships with current clients and prospects through frequent interaction to ensure when there is an issue they will call you first before calling a competitor.
- Utilize Your Resources. Business development is no longer just a marketing and sales function. Couriers, pathologists and lab staff impact your relationship with referring physician practices. Create an atmosphere of customer service in the lab and make the couriers feel like an important part of the team. Couriers are the eyes and ears out in the field and can provide valuable information. There are two parts to the sales and relationship process which is the staff to staff and physician to physician. Encourage pathologists to participate by joining committees and having lunch in the physician lounge to interact with colleagues. Have regular meetings to keep everyone connected and informed.
- Ask Clients Specific Questions. Sometimes questions are too general and asking specific questions can identify opportunities to upsell an existing client or minimize leakage. Do you ever have to use another lab for any reason? How is our turnaround time? Do you ever get visited by other laboratories? Can I use you as a referral? Also, conducting client satisfaction surveys can give insights on a client’s current satisfaction level as well as any problems that you may not be aware of.
- Brand Services and Expertise. There is high turnover in physician offices, therefore constantly promote your services and expertise to remind clients of all the services you are providing. Develop a specialty specific approach by knowing what each specialty values. Consider creating customized requisitions, promoting subspecialty expertise or one stop shopping. Don’t assume practices know what services and expertise you provide or which insurances you are contracted with or even that non-hospital work can be referred to you.
- Set and Track Specific Goals. Setting specific goals for client maintenance and business development will help keep you on track to meeting long term growth and sustainability. This includes upselling existing clients and minimalizing leakage. Having realistic quarterly goals and monthly objectives will assist in reaching these long term goals.