So, continuing on with my tale of my little business…I left off describing how ExtraMD ( my local locums company) was going to weather these stormy economic times. I have noticed a drastic drop in shift requests. Over the past two years, we have typically had 10 shifts per month unfilled, almost enough for a full time physician. However, over the last 3 months, I have seen a distinct drop, such that by December we only had 2 shifts that went unfilled.
Next, an urgent care cancelled a shift, saying they were so far behind in their receivables, they couldn’t afford any more debt. We haven’t yet received the money owed for work we did there.
In addition, a large clinic system cancelled over 16 shifts for one month, leaving 4 doctors with out work for February. They emailed me, saying, “Good news for our clinic…we’ve hired a full time physician, so won’t need coverage.” Bad news for us. We do have a 30 day cancellation policy, but the clinic squeaked in at 31 days, so didn’t have to pay the full cancellation fee.
So, what will we do? How will I find work for my docs, keep my company afloat and sleep at night?
Here’s my plan:
- Calm down.
- Send out a post card mailing, advertising a birthday discount. (ExtraMD is turning 5.) Something cute and eye catching will be on the postcard, like a birthday cake.
- Email our clients, letting them know we have a birthday celebration discount going on.
- Consider taking birthday cupcakes to our best customers.
- Put an ad in the local medical journals.
- Talk to the other physicians in our group about leaving business cards and chatting up the business at practices where they are working. As the physician owner, I have done all the marketing myself, but hey, it’s worth a try.
- Create a press release targeting the local market about ExtraMD’s birthday celebration and discount. Let practices know that we are a good interim solution during tough times–it’s cheaper to use us than hire another physician, especially if a practice isn’t certain it can support another full time physician.
I’ll keep you posted as to the results. How is YOUR practice doing in these tough times?