Your front office is a major part of your brand. Yet too often in physical therapy marketing talk, your front office staff is left out of the conversation. This is a mistake.
From making appointments, checking into the office, and answering tough questions about billing and insurance, the front office is your first chance to make a positive impression on clients. Such an impression can lend a valuable hand in shaping your brand through customer service and marketing outreach.
For a long time, I’ve admired Impact Physical Therapy’s unparalleled customer service. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but everyone there, no matter their role, has a super positive attitude and the ability to make you smile. Scroll through their Facebook feed — it’s obvious that every day at their clinic is a labor of love.
My favorite demonstration of this is an effort rolled out by Impact front office manager Kim Tessner called “Therapy Thursdays” — a monthly delivery of sunshine to referring offices and community partners. I asked Kim to talk to BuildPT about this monthly tradition, and despite a busy holiday season, she was kind enough to answer my questions via email.
Tell us a little about Therapy Thursdays and how these monthly “gifts” have become part of the work culture at Impact.
A couple years ago, [Impact founder Kent Bond, PT] asked me what I could do in terms of marketing to people in my position at our referring doctor’s offices. How could I help build relationships? After all, that’s what it’s all about. I started thinking about this. I wanted to be able to be creative, and I was given license to do just that. Through the next several days, the idea of Therapy Thursday was born.
I wanted to be able to provide some type of “therapy” to these offices, a little token of kindness [that says] we’re thinking about you, we appreciate your referrals, we want to know you better — a “pick me up” [to] get you excited about our office, become teammates, etc. Of course, it had to be done on Thursdays! I wanted a name that would mean something to those that were on the receiving end.
Now that we have a group of offices that are used to this treatment, you can’t really end the program! These offices look forward to the deliveries. We are team members, caring for our/their patients. They are extended family, and as you know, family is a big part of the Impact culture. We talk a lot about our Impact Family which includes our staff, patients, doctors, suppliers, partners and community members. Therapy Thursday is 2 years old now, and it has just evolved into part of who we are and what we do.
What’s been the most well-received gift, or Therapy Thursday goodie, from Impact?
Without a doubt, milk and cookies in honor of Mother’s Day for our May delivery — “just like mom use to make.” We had a lovely bakery here in town, and I ordered 12-13 dozen cookies and packaged them up (two to three cookies per person in the office) and included a bottle of milk. I buy the old-fashioned style glass milk jugs.
It’s no secret that you’re the resident gift guru, but you guys have a very special team of people at Impact. How do you orchestrate this huge undertaking every month?
I will admit, this is my baby and I prefer to do it myself. I like to do the shopping and putting everything together. I know what I want and what I want it to look like. I have volunteers (Impact’s business manager, Anna Bond, and physical therapy aide coordinator, Marta Richter) available to help if I want or need, and that is appreciated. Marta and Anna cover the phones for me while I am out delivering. I try and shop at the tail end of a lunch hour, or sometimes if I’m out on the weekends, I will pick things up. I also look for things online when I have time during the work day.
I really think we are all likeminded as far as how we feel about our clinic, patients and referral sources. We want to be thought of as different, better than the average clinic. We try to do little things that set us apart: thank you notes for referrals, citrus water in the waiting room, a warm and friendly environment, treating our patients as family, sending birthday cards or giving Starbucks or Jamba Juice cards on birthdays when patients spend their day with us, graduation T-shirts, Christmas cards, and a nice chocolate as patients leave the office, etc. We work as a team to provide the best experience our patients can have. That attitude spills over to the rest of the community in which we work.
Do you have any advice for other front office staff who are trying to effectively market their practice from month to month?
Advice to those wanting to replicate what we do for Therapy Thursday: have fun with it, make it yours. I plan the whole year out in January so I can be looking for things all year long. I have fun with the planning stage thinking of new ideas and things I can try. I pick a theme for each month, usually around whatever holiday falls during the month. I want things I can do at my desk area, I try and keep it healthy as much as possible – we do deliver sweets once in a while. I try to keep costs down as much as I can, but I don’t want “cheap.” Think of things that you would enjoy arriving in your office, and keep it tasteful. You will find that the offices you deliver to will become excited to see what’s coming next!