The number of physical therapy clinics in the United States has continued to grow in recent years, increasing the competition each of them are facing. You’ve likely seen new clinics pop up in your area with a variety of new services and offers. Creating a competitive advantage in this type of market can be difficult.
First and foremost, offering exceptional service is the #1 way to create a competitive advantage and stand out from the competition.
Once you have that established, your physical therapy business will need to focus on reaching the growing demographics who use your services, whether that’s baby boomers, local sports enthusiasts or returning military service members. To reach them, you’ll need a strong web presence that takes advantage of trends and best practices in healthcare marketing and physical therapy clinic marketing.
We’ve put together five top strategies to help you learn how to grow a physical therapy business by leveraging your existing services, clients and unique qualities.
1. Differentiation: Expand Your Physical Therapy Business Ideas
Getting customers through the door often requires giving them an offer they can’t find elsewhere. Differentiating yourself from your competition is never easy — an investment is almost always required, either in staff or equipment — but it is a key way to increase referrals and new customers.
New services build a competitive advantage in two distinct ways:
1. You’re offering a service that clients cannot get at other locations.
You include new care or experiences within an existing environment. For instance, you can help existing physical therapy customers achieve larger health goals such as recovering range of motion or maintaining a healthy weight as part of your overall care packages. If your facility has the space to expand into a new service, such as pools for hydrotherapy, then you can secure an entirely new service that your competition may not have. Further increase your competitiveness by matching the new installation to your client base. Larger pools can accommodate more people for general wellness sessions while individual pools offer more flexibility in rehabiltation for a broad range of clientele — a great opportunity for most physical therapy businesses.
One aspect that’s often overlooked in physical therapy marketing is letting the broader community know about any new service you start offering. You know that a key aspect of growing a physical therapy business is discussing services with existing partners. However, you may have more opportunities to grow if you start thinking about who beyond your current reach could benefit from your newest service.
For example, if you add a hydrotherapy option, you may be better able to serve older clients and those with back injuries. A smart strategy in this case would be to share information about your hydrotherapy services with local geriatrics practitioners and clinics that cater to individuals with special health needs related to spinal cord injuries, obesity or chronic pain.
2. Innovate Service with Healthcare Marketing Technology
Physical therapy might be one of the few places where we can’t say, “There’s an app for that,” but that doesn’t mean new technology can be overlooked.
There are a variety of tools you can integrate into your existing website, and the first to consider is a medical appointment scheduling program.
Newer services can also work with people’s smartphones and tablets so you don’t lose out on mobile customers. Selecting a service that provides multiple calendar files — such as those for Gmail and Outlook — will help your patients remember appointments and limit the chance that they double-book you with lunch.
Not only will these services allow your patients to schedule appointments on their own — a saving of staff time — but you will also be more relevant in searches. Search is extremely important because according to a Google report on medical services:
- 77% of patients will perform a medical search for services in their area before they make an appointment.
- 44% of patients who find medical service providers online schedule an appointment.
- Search drives nearly three times as many visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search visitors.
This innovative experience becomes even more important when you realize that only about 20% of healthcare facilities offer online scheduling.
You can also turn to technology to provide a better understanding of your services. YouTube presents a compelling way to explain your therapies and give detailed explanations to common questions.
Social Media Can Reach New Customers
Don’t be afraid to experiment with technology to find what works. A great place to start is in the realm of social media. Many potential customers will try to find you on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to get a feeling of who you are. It’s an opportunity to connect with these customers and answer any questions they may have.
Facebook allows you to create a business page that can be filled with photos of your services, information on your offerings and posts to help people get the help they need. An important part of social media is providing a broad support network so your visitors, friends and fans learn more about their own problems. Twitter is an especially great place for sharing articles that can highlight the benefit of your services, without coming off as a pure sales pitch.
Social media is also a conversation tool. Brands perform best when they help people solve problems through discussion and shared information. Once you’ve built a relationship with customers by being helpful, your followers will be more receptive to ads, coupons and deals on social media.
2. Innovate with the Latest Care Technology
When it comes to how to grow a physical therapy business, don’t let marketing be your sole technology focus. New equipment, services and best practices arrive continuously, and staying on top of them is important. Like your differentiation strategies, focus the majority of your effort toward new technologies that match the needs of your community and clientele.
As a physical therapy provider, you need to stay abreast of the latest technologies and methodologies for physical therapy to ensure that your clients view you as a world-class service provider and to maximize the effectiveness of your programs. The Internet is a great tool for you and your customers to research what’s new. That means you’ll have to stay on your toes, because they may choose to go elsewhere if you don’t have the service they’re reading about.
When you add a new technology, make sure to include it in your physical therapy marketing. Clinics serving older adults and those with orthopedic or chronic conditions have seen significant boosts to their referral rates when they’ve equated their technology to what “the professional athletes use” in therapy marketing, such as for aquatic therapy and rehab.
3. Make Customer Satisfaction Vocal
Don’t be afraid to look past healthcare marketing for ideas on how to grow your physical therapy business. You don’t have the same restrictions as hospitals and your clients are a little more diverse because injuries can happen in many different activities or over a longer period.
There are two chief tactics to giving your customers more of a voice: reviews and referrals. Both of these will require your customers to put forth some effort, but you can also provide incentives such as reduced pricing or extra sessions when customers leave reviews or make referrals.
Content and testimonials that come directly from clients is among the most trusted type of physical therapist marketing, so incentives are a big win for you and your customers.
You Should Be Easy to Review
You can turn your website into a lead-generation machine by giving all of your clients the opportunity to leave reviews about your service, with options to provide details about the nature of their injury, therapy and experience. Customer reviews located on your website can help visitors make the final decision to book an appointment.
More than 60% of people will read online reviews before they make an appointment or a purchase decision. If you treat your services as products by giving people the ability to book a specific session, you may even see a lift in sales of up to 18%.
Treat customer reviews like a premium ad on your site because they’re significantly more trusted than other ads, promotions and special offers. Unlike ads, you’ll get search engine optimization benefits from customer reviews such as increased page rankings and higher click-through rates.
You can list your reviews as testimonials or reviews. The main difference between the two is that the testimonial branding may make some people feel that you’re only providing a limited selection of the reviews you’ve received: just the positive ones. This isn’t always ideal because having some less-than-stellar reviews on your site can make the whole process authentic.
One very important note on this practice is that you can’t sanitize reviews or create fake reviews. Let your customers leave a real impression of your service and their experience, and don’t edit them except to remove vulgarity or irrelevant content (i.e. spam). If someone has a bad time, respond to their review with an apology and let them know you’ll be contacting them directly to resolve the issue. Responding to bad reviews can improve your page’s conversion rate by up to 67%.
Ask for Referrals
We all love getting new clients who were referred by fellow clients or doctors and surgeons we’ve worked with in the past. It’s a great feeling because it means you did such a good job that someone just couldn’t help but share how satisfied they were.
The one concern with relying on referrals is that not everyone will give you a referral, even if they have a stellar experience. Some clients may be shy and others may simply not think about providing a referral to someone who has a similar problem.
Referrals aren’t out of your hands entirely, though, because you can make some moves to increase the likelihood of a referral. Here are a few of our favorite methods to boost your PT clinic marketing with referrals:
- Ask. Simply asking your customer to provide a referral to people they know will prime them to think about your business the next time it’s relevant. When asking, make your suggestion broad. For example, if you’re talking with a patient who was injured playing soccer, suggest that they tell teammates about your service if they have any soccer-related injury. If you’re working with older adults in aquatic therapy, tell them that it can help alleviate muscle and joint pains, even if your current client doesn’t have that problem.
- Make it about another service provider. Many clients come to PT clinics through doctor or surgeon referrals. During the course of their rehabilitation or therapy, ask about return visits to those doctors. When those appointments are near, ask your client to pass on word of the great surgery and to mention how successful your recovery has been thanks to the rehabilitation at your clinic, especially mentioning any specific services you offer that contributed to their success, such as aquatic therapy.
- Appreciate people who make a referral. When you have a new client referred to you by a patient or doctor, reach out and thank them for the referral. You’ll come off as a gracious service provider and it gives you the chance to maintain relationships. Former patients will appreciate it if you ask about their ongoing health, and the call will give you a chance to see if a doctor’s office is satisfied with your work and the referral process.
Growing your referral network isn’t difficult work. It relies on you taking the time to ask and then being grateful when a referral occurs. It can start off slow, but the process will remain simple and can be a consistent source of new clients while you try out other physical therapy business ideas.
4. Relevance in All Physical Therapy Marketing
Trust is an essential part to all physical therapist marketing. One of the best ways to build trust with your clients is to provide useful and relevant services and information. If you make resources available even before someone needs rehabilitation, you’ll be seen as a trusted source when they are in need of your service.
Relevance is always related to your community and the services you offer. Make sure that your blogs, marketing and other information discuss each service’s specific ability to address a common problem of your audience. For example, using warm water for can provide some joint relief for arthritis. That’s a strong message for any marketing targeted at older adults.
Relevant information also requires you to be specific. So, in our arthritis example, you’ll want to show why using warm water in your hydrotherapy pool is better than the static pool at the local YMCA. Here, you’ll want to mention that the water is typically between 90 and 95 degrees and that performing gentle stretches while immersed will provide even greater relief.
All of your marketing should be relevant to your audience. Plans that work well for you may be distinctly different than other PT offices nearby, so we’ve put together a few general suggestions that can get you started on your specific, pertinent marketing plan:
- Use social media to share resources for generally healthy living.
- Advertise hours that may be outside of traditional work or school hours so working professionals and parents know they can use your services.
- Position yourself as an alternative to the gym to attract people who are looking for pain relief or prefer a wellness program.
- Include nutritional services based on local diets to show that you care about patients and your community before they ever enter your doors.
- Regularly update your blog and website based on the feedback you receive from clients.
Marketing your physical therapy business is the best way to show potential clients all of the wonderful benefits you offer. You’ll have a great platform to show people what they can expect and convince them to choose your services. By including referral and review programs, you’ll know what innovations are working and what are needed at your facilities.
The amazing thing about the age of the Internet is that nearly everyone is willing to provide feedback, and they’re very interested in what others are saying about your service. Capitalize on this cultural shift in all of your PT clinic marketing and you’ll soon be doing well enough to write the book on how to grow a physical therapy business that customers love.