Have you ever tried typing “free physiotherapy consultation” into Google?
Go ahead and give it a try. Like me, you’ll probably be surprised at just how many chiropractors, physiotherapists, and even massage therapists are offering a ‘free’ consultation.
Here are a couple of quick samples I found:
White Ave Sport & Spine in Alberta says:
“Unsure whether physiotherapy is right for you? We provide free consultation to determine whether physiotherapy is right for your condition.”.
Portland Physiotherapy in Nova Scotia says:
“Call (902)-XXX-XXXX now to schedule your free 10 minute consultation to determine how we can best help you achieve your healthy lifestyle goals and independence.”.
Dorval Physiotherapy in Ontario says:
"Book a free fifteen minute consultation. You can decide with no obligation if our services are the right fit for you."
This ‘free’ marketing strategy is happening both locally and globally, and it’s not only restricted to clinic owners. Even lawyers are using this model! For example:
“Free Advice From An Experienced Car Accident Lawyer. Have you been hurt in a car accident? Fill out the form below for a free consultation about your accident”.
You might think…’FREE’, well how is that going to help me, I need to make money not give things away for free!
I know it’s easy to think this way, but since lots of physical therapy and chiropractic clinics are doing this, the bottom line is that if you don't, you’re missing out.
So I’d like to talk about why you need a free lead magnet and how you can convert ‘Free’ consultations into paying customers.
Why You Need To Use A ‘Free’ Lead Magnet
As clinic owners, we all know that competition for new patients is fierce. There seems to be so many new clinics starting every day, and now it’s not just physiotherapy clinics competing with physiotherapy clinics, there are more multidisciplinary clinics available that offer physiotherapy, chiropractic, and massage therapy services all under the same roof.
Then you have the latest kid on the block, the college of kinesiology - yet another new type of competitor is emerging. Soon we’ll have kinesiologists who will be providing rehab for insurance companies, and they will also be hiring physiotherapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists, and also offering free consultations.
Yes, we are all faced with rising competition from every angle.
But take a minute to imagine this from the customer’s perspective. With all these clinics to choose from, how do they know which one to choose? How do they know if you are the best physiotherapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist without meeting you?
So using a free consultation can be a very effective way to offer something that has absolutely no risk to the customer and compels them to come and see you. Getting them in the door is the hardest part. So once you have them, you can convert them into a paying customer.
In the digital marketing world they call this kind of free offer a ‘lead magnet’.
Your free consultation acts as a magnet to generate the lead (customer), providing an incentive to call your clinic for help. The free option means there is no risk to them but they get to talk to an expert at your clinic to see if you can solve their problem.
Converting ‘Free’ Consultations Into Paying Customers
If I told you, you could convert 7 out of every 10 free consultations into paying customers, would you do this?
If you can generate 10 free consultations in a month and you’re able to convert 70% of them into paying customers - how much is this worth?
Let’s just say the customer is worth $500 annually.
7 new customers at $500 each = $3,500 per month or $42,000 annually.
Now that’s worth the effort right?
You spending 30 minuites doing a free consultation is super cost effective way of doing marketing for your clinic.
How To Implement ‘Free’ Consultations at Your Clinic
You can’t just go out and start shouting ‘free’ on the streets without having a plan in place. You know the saying: “If you fail to plan: you plan to fail.”
Remember your earlier concerns about using a ‘free’ model?
I know you don’t have time to waste because you need to be earning money, we all do. So let’s go through how to do this ‘free’ consultation effectively.
1) Define what's included in the free consultation
You have to be clear about what people will get. My suggestion is to make it 30 minutes so you can spend quality time with this potential patient. Allocate a certain amount of time each day or each week to allow for these free consults, and offer your full, undivided attention to the potential patient, just as you would to a paying patient.
Give them an opportunity to talk about their injury, provide quick tips on how to manage their pain, and ask them:
"If you could wake up tomorrow morning and your pain was gone what would you do tomorrow that you’re not doing today?
You want this potential patient to be impressed by the amount of time and input you share. And you’ll find that this is much more effective then spending 30 minutes doing doctor marketing, or some other marketing activity you might be wasting time with.
2) Check the college rules
Always check with your corresponding college or association to make sure that you abide by any rules that apply to your modality. Sometimes you may not be permitted to use the word ’free’.
If this is the case, see if you can use things like ‘no obligation’, ‘no cost’, or call it a ‘pre assessment’. There are always other ways around things.
3) Promote your offer
You probably also find that you often get clinic phone calls where patients are just ‘shopping’ around. When they call they don’t really have the intention of booking an appointment. So in these situations, instead of losing the phone call, you can get your admin team to offer them a free consultation. Most people are going to book in straight away.
Another easy way to promote your free consultation offer by putting a big sticker on your referral pad.
Because its free and likely that no other clinic is doing this, doctors will love it, because it makes it easy for them to tell their patients to see you. Patients always complain about having no money, so this makes it easy for doctors to help get patients through your door.
As I just mentioned above, the idea is to offer high quality free service to the potential customer. Even if it means they come to your clinic and you can help figure out insurance coverage with them. Just be there to provide that service and help them in whatever way you can. You’ll soon see them as paid customers this way.
Other things you can do are, include your free offer in any paid advertisements, give your current patients free consultation cards to hand out to friends, family, and colleagues to encourage referrals, and even print it on the bottom of your business cards.
4) Track results and measure conversion rates
Whether it’s free or not, there’s no point doing any kind of marketing without tracking results. Remember, we’re aiming for a 70% conversion rate here, so if you find you have less than 70% conversion, what can you do?
You need to implement the Net Promoter Score, basically that’s a fancy name for ‘patient satisfaction survey’ and measuring results. At the end of every assessment or free consultation, get the patient to complete the survey so you can measure results.
From the feedback that patients give you, you will gather great insight into what is going wrong during the free consult. Is it because the clinician is not saying the right things? Is it because they aren’t really providing a solution for the patient’s desperate problem? Are they rushing the free consult and not being truly mindful of the patient? Or perhaps they had a really bad experience with the front admin team?
Daniel Siegel author of ‘The Mindful Therapist’ talks about the micro-skills needed with patients and being more ‘person centered’, meaning while you’re with patients be present. This is especially true with the free consults. You can’t be giving second grade service just because it’s free.
Really focus on the patient and ask them something like:
“If you could wake up tomorrow morning and your pain was gone, what would you do tomorrow that you’re not doing today?”
Listen to their story. Hear what they are saying. And do what you can to help them.
The reality is that the patient made the effort to show up to your free consultation, so the ball is now in your court to be truly mindful of them and their experience and problems. If you optimize this ‘free’ process, you will see your conversion rates go up to 70%, and the time spent will be more than worth it.
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