Paul is a long standing TM3 customer, former professional football physiotherapist, private practice owner, author and business coach. Following on from part one of our interview, we caught up with Paul to discuss opportunities presented by the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you missed part one, please read it here before continuing.
You only have to look across the board at how gyms such as PureGym and Anytime Fitness have capitalised on that model for success. Challenges aside, what opportunities do you think this situation has presented?
"Everything’s up in the air. What a business owner typically does is worries about themselves and how many patients they might have lost during this time. What you need to realise though, for the 2 patients out of 10 at your clinic who are out of routine, the other six clinics in your area also have 2 patients out of 10 out of routine. When you put all of them together, there are patients up for grabs now.
There’s now an opportunity for people to do online classes as a lead generation tool for their clinics and this is certainly something we’ll be doing at my clinics. We’ll set up a class once a week, say Monday is knee pain day and Friday is back pain day and we’ll run a small free virtual class for 5 to 10 patients. It’s such a cost-effective way to build a relationship with patients who are tentatively thinking about hiring us.
Opportunity is going to be everywhere now if you genuinely look for it. The opportunity to raise prices – charge more to give more. The typical business owner will be frightened to raise prices to right now and will cut back their services, but the brave business owner will increase their prices. In a recession people want value, they don’t want the cheapest prices, despite what the media may tell you. Those who go and give a little bit more than what people were getting three months ago instead of cutting back, that’s the people who are going to emerge from this stronger."
I guess many clinic owners are likely to find themselves in a position where they have to decide if keeping the likes of reception staff on in the short-term is best for success in the long term now?
"Here’s the thing, people’s expectations are at an all-time low right now. I’m in Florida right now, it’s almost life as normal here right now but here’s what I realised. When I first went into a restaurant, I literally asked the waitress ‘am I allowed salt and pepper’ because they don’t have them on the table and she was like ‘yeah I’ll go get them for you’ and I then said ‘can my boy have some ketchup’ and she went and got that for us. I was explaining this in the context of a business owner, expectations are at an all time low and what a lot of businesses are going to do is pull back.
I guarantee anybody that does the opposite and does a little bit more, those who don’t strip away their reception, don’t stop giving them expensive tea or coffee or little gifts. If you can do just one extra thing that they weren’t expecting, those are the businesses that are going to win in the next 6-12 months."
That all ties back to that old mantra of enhancing your customer experience from the first touch point and creating advocates from your clients. Do you have any solid advice you would give to business owners right now?
"Solid advice would be this. A lot of people reach out to me because I have a physio business, a property business, and a media business in two countries and they ask me ‘will you do things differently?’. The answer is no, I’ll do things that I was always doing but I’ll do them better. There’s not a wholesale shift in the business needed, what is needed is a return to the fundamental basics. The foundational principles of running a business, a marketing message is designed to attract somebody, to position you as an expert. You need a strong personality on the phone, who is able to engage, connect and talk. Someone who can spend 10-15 mins answering questions, overcoming objections, and positioning your service as being more valuable than any other options they have. You need a red-hot approach to customer service, the ability to make everyone feel special once they come through the door.
We were talking to a business owner about this the other day who was telling me they aren’t allowed to have someone on reception with social distancing measures. I told them that was no issue, stick a TV in reception with someone at home on Zoom all day long, literally talking to your customers – that’s an experience they won’t get elsewhere. That’s the type of thinking you won’t get from many businesses; customer service is going to be absolutely key.
At my clinics, we’ve put a £2,500 coffee machine into each location and the biggest fight I have with my accountant each month is how much we are spending on Italian coffee. We’re going to give more in our packages and do anything we can do to help, so people feel like they are getting more from us.
The biggest difference between this and the 2008 recession is that there’s money around. Despite what the news are telling us and despite the job losses, the difference this time is that the banks have money to lend. People will have access to credit but with that comes a heightened level of fear which will stagnate decision making so what your front desk is going to start telling that business owner is that nobody has a job or money. That will only bring a defeatist attitude to the business which in turn will effect conversions and revenue, so the business owner needs to be a policeman of that sort of language in the clinic.
Whilst there may be 10% unemployment in the UK for a while, 5% of those never had a job to begin with. If you can’t run a business on that 5% being the difference, then you are reading too many headlines and watching too many tv shows. People will always dramatize and catastrophise things, staff included and as a business leader – that’s what you have to manage. Fundamentals will win – have some empathy and sympathy for the situation but don’t take part in the recession, don’t give up."
To learn more about TM3, tour our features here. If you want to know more about what Paul does then you can check out his programmes, podcasts and books on marketing, sales and running a business here.