The process of running a business can be overwhelming for physicians. Even worse by joining a hospital or a group of doctors you give up your independence.
So how do you run the practice all together and give up some of the anxiety by not being part of the daily grind? You’ll find out in this 2 part episode on How My Medical Practice is Thriving Without Me There!
Matt: So I’m here with Dr. Monika Soni and she’s super happy to be talking to us today. We’re at Ethos Spa which has been really a great success story in a couple of different ways. I think it’s an interesting story for a lot of people who might be interested in listening. This is a story about a practitioner leaving the practice. That’s right. Being able to go and do other things in their life. So Monika is Dr. Hardik Soni’s wife and she’s now taken over doing procedures in the practice.
Dr. Hardik Soni is out there doing other things that he’s always wanted to do because they have enough business flow right now to continue the practice without his involvement. I think this is a really cool story. Where did you get started in medical?25 FREE leads for your practice
Monika: My husband’s an ER physician and I’m an anesthesiologist. We had some free time and we wanted to open up a business and we thought this was a natural progression because it involves both the medicine and a little of our business curiosity that we wanted to explore. So, we just thought it would be easier than to open a coffee shop or something like that. We can apply our medical field into it. We treat it just as medicine, we try to keep our patients happy and the business side comes after. Primarily you want to see your patients happy and get them good results. So it’s sort of a natural progression of our medical field.
Matt: So what were you doing when you were going to medical school and you met Hardik? What were you thinking about? Obviously, you do anesthesiology, that’s another piece of your world, but you guys met and what was the thought process like career wise?
Monika: Well, we never thought about opening a medical spa. We had been married 10 years before we started this. We didn’t think about starting a business at all. We were introduced to this town (Summit NJ), by our daughter who was going to private school here. We loved the town and since we had some free time, we wanted to open a business. That’s how we started.
Matt: What’s amazing to me and other people is that a lot of people think, especially in New Jersey because you have got a brand here that you’re this huge spa. In reality, you’re just a mom and pop normal spa that takes care of hundreds of patients a month but not like you’re some huge chain. But the perception of your brand is so ingrained out there.
So, 10 years ago or when you guys got started, obviously there’s ups and downs. Could you talk about how impactful the marketing piece was in the beginning? Obviously, you had to start without a brand, but how about now when people come to see what the value is?
Monika: Marketing does play a role. We did try local paper marketing, which never worked for us. You know, what worked was the internet, and lately, my husband has got into social media, so that’s definitely worked for us. Marketing is one part of it and then when clients do come in here, we take care of them very well. You know we give them full attention. It’s that personal care that people are looking for and I think that’s what helped build our business.
Of course, we try to stay on top of social media and internet marketing and that has helped us a lot. The other thing that helped, is our location believe it or not. Summit is a great location that attracts people from the nearby towns, so we’ve been lucky that way.
Matt: Yeah, I was just about to segway here, you’ve got such a great central location, that’s going to help. One of the things that we’ve helped to sort of understand and this is for people who are listening to this, you know as the social networks grow and Facebook and Instagram, things become more relevant because it’s hyper targeted. People are on their phone and if you’re local and you can place local ads and you’re getting people’s attention when they’re local. It’s almost as if you’re presenting in real time to them, that solution. So whether it’s a coupon for 15% off a procedure or getting them physically aware of how a procedure works but they’re local so they see it. I think a lot of people think of just looking at the computer as someone’s looking at the computer and they’re looking straight ahead. In all reality, someone’s driving their kids to soccer practice, going somewhere else, and the real zero moment of time as they call it is when you”re getting their attention in a local area. This is sort of food for thought.
Now, I want to take it back to the marketing stuff, but this was not an overnight success. So let’s talk about just a little of the ups and downs about when you started and just a couple of bullet point thoughts on the challenges you’ve faced. And now it snowballed into what we see, over 300 downloads of coupons a month. Literally hundreds of phone calls coming in every month of new potential patients, a whole litany of different procedures that you guys are doing based off of how the market acts. So you know, we did vampire facials when they were hot. You know there’s something else that will be hot this month, so we change it up. Just talk to me from the very beginning to the ups and downs and then where you are right now.
Monika: When we started like I said we tried some local marketing, paper marketing and that did not work very well for us. So we decided to concentrate more on the internet and social media and that has worked well, and now there is some word of mouth. So you know of course we were not busy in the beginning, but it slowly progressed and like I said, we take care of our clients and we’re lucky that we’re busy now.
Matt: Going back, did you feel there were certain times where you’re like “We have it?”
Monika: Yes definitely, over the years we’ve had to change marketing agencies, not everybody worked out for us. There were ups and downs, seasons that we weren’t busy. We have to change the agency they work out right. But we’ve learned that some seasons aren’t going to be busy and others are. We’ve learned how to market that.
Matt: So what’s cool is that you guys now, I think have gone through a phase, and we’ve been working with you guys for about a year and a half now But the concept is that when we first started we were actually doing just a couple of things for you but now we’ve integrated this entire machine that literally just pumps all these leads and the thing I see which is great is that when I walk in here and talk to your staff, and say “How are things going?” They’re like you have no idea, it’s ridiculous. That’s a good thing.
Monika: That’s right, it’s always better to be busy than not.
Matt: The investment is the issue. They hesitate because they’re afraid of the investment into the marketing and I’m thinking the opposite, If you’re not busy why would you not want to invest. Of course, there’s always that give and take of “well I only have so much budget” and you guys have done the opposite.
Monika: You know, it was my husband’s philosophy from the beginning, we have put in at least 10% of our budget or more into marketing. In the beginning up to 15-20%. You want to get started with clients and then things will roll over into word of mouth, but if you don’t have any clients in the beginning, it won’t work.
Matt: I think you hit the nail on the head, which is that yes there is an initial referral base without question, everybody has friends and friends of friends and that all works, but at a certain point there’s an elasticity. It stretches and that’s it. So once you hit the next level and you say look let’s just bring in a whole group of new patients. and then that expands again.
So the concept is if you do that consistently, the word of mouth from the marketing creates sort of a momentum and you guys have that momentum now as I mentioned before so the main practitioner, Dr. Hardik Soni can now leave. That’s the thing that I was like “you’re going to leave?” He’s like “Yeah” I’m like “What are you going to do?” “I don’t know, something else” I’m like, who’s going to run the practice? “Oh Monika will run it”
That’s great, this is a success story. I mean obviously you could get another practice and you could do what you guys are doing which is to do other things and you know have a life and obviously when you’ve been hands on for 10 years, sometimes it’s time to move on and do other things. Although he’s still a part of the practice, it’s just not as much as he would be normally participating. That breath of life goes and says “OK great we’ve got another chapter to work on. It also makes him expand so when he comes back, he’s got all of these new great new ideas and now you guys are doing a product line which is great. I said it’s great you have you guys are doing a product line which is great.
Monika: Right, he’s concentrating on a skin care line and other things like you said.
Matt: That’s the real story here which is beyond just thinking about the marketing which is the product sets that you can create, all these things that can really create not only a business but a lifestyle you really enjoy.
Matt: Thank you so much.
Monika: OK. Nice talking to you, thank you.
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