Dear Olga: Even though we’re an established physical therapy office, in our seventh year, we always need to generate new business in order to keep our calendar full. Physical therapy isn’t a seasonal thing or an economic thing; it’s a year-round business. We recently hired a new physical therapist—as well as a massage therapist—and we’re prepared to take on more patients.
We really haven’t used social media as much to our advantage as we’d like to. We don’t do any advertising, and so, we get most of our patients through word-of-mouth. We also do area events (like a 5K run we’re sponsoring) and support local groups (including Tribe, a triathlon club). At this point, we want to be even more involved with student athletes and Crossfit clients.
All that said, what are the best no-cost ways for us to increase foot traffic and awareness?
~Julie & Ismael F., Body Solutions Fitness and Therapy, Long Beach, CA
Assuming you already have the basics covered (e.g. strategic partnerships with doctors’ offices, membership in local chambers and clubs, etc.), the best thing to do is to turn to Yelp.
Whereas, in the past, most people would be referred to a physical therapist by a doctor, referrals are no longer the sole source of new business. Today, with all of the choices available at your fingertips, people tend to look online for their practitioners. And they often go to Yelp to see an office’s reviews before making a decision.
As such, you need to make sure that you’re on Yelp, accounted for, and being positively reviewed.
Yelp will also help you gain visibility—not only in Yelp searches (that’s a given), but in Google searches, as well. The more reviews you have, the higher your search results can potentially be. The higher your search results, the higher the likelihood that Googlers may just stumble upon you.
Claim Your Profile
If you haven’t done so already, open up a Yelp account and claim your business listing. Make sure you fill out the whole profile with your hours, directions, photos of your office (an important component!), and everything else that makes it easy for potential customers to find you.
Make it even more enticing by offering a first-timer coupon. People love coupons. Even though you’re a physical therapy office—which doesn’t really lend itself to a typical coupon—you can always offer a perk or piece of swag. Why not order custom YouBars (with your logo) and hand them out to new customers…and at events?
You’ll need to encourage your current clients to post reviews. A happy client is the best advertising. They are your free walking, talking billboards.
Put a fun sign up in a prominent place in your office (like the back of the reception room door), asking current customers to leave a review. Be sure to include a QR code on the flyer that links directly to your Yelp page.
Note: Yelp may poo-poo your efforts to solicit reviews, but it’s not against the “rules” to do so. So, why not?
Respond To Your Reviews
Don’t forget to respond to your Yelp reviews, both the good and the bad. Make sure to graciously thank the people who have taken the time to give you a glowing review and reinforce their raves by repeating key words in your comments.
What do you do if someone is overly critical of your stellar service? If the review is negative, acknowledge the consumer’s experience and apologize. Then explain what happened, how things have improved, and invite them back.
By taking advantage of your best resource (i.e. your existing customers), you can parlay your current feet on the floor into new feet in the door.
Have a different question for Olga? Bring it on! Go to chunkofchange.com and submit your questions in the Ask Olga Box. Every question is answered thoughtfully, and may be featured here in an upcoming month.
Eds. Note: Don’t miss Olga’s upcoming meetup, where you can ask your own questions LIVE! Entrepreneurs and those who naturally think outside the box, come bring your ideas and the challenges that keep you up at night to the Business MMA: Rowdy Roundtable on Tuesday, May 28 at 6:15PM at The Grand in Long Beach.