Using Social Media to Optimize your PT Practice

Increasingly, the amount of time being spent online engaging with social media platforms has become an integrated aspect of our daily lives. Nearly 74% of Americans are on Facebook daily- given this exposure we want you to consider: Are you maximizing the exposure of your physical therapy clinic through various social media platforms? 80% of Americans experience some sort of pain and/or discomfort and restrictions with their physicality. If you are not targeting these individuals on social media, that is a lot of money you are leaving behind! We want to outline the ways in which you can use social media to optimize your entity and stand out within the PT world.

Raise Awareness:

Use your practice’s social media account to raise awareness of common ailments, new technology, or rising concerns within your field. If your account provides accurate, relevant, and timely information, it is more likely that new/returning patients will remain engaged with your practice or clinic.

Fight Misinformation:

By the very nature of social media, it is easy for information to spread quickly- the same goes for misinformation. Using your social media account to combat or discredit misinformation will lend credibility and reliability to your practice. This will help build rapport with patients, making it more likely they will come to you for treatment.

Answer Common Questions:

Patients typically raise similar questions at various stages of their health and wellness journeys. Providing “hot takes” or “snapshots” of these questions with a clear answer is likely to motivate patients to work with your practice. With some of the preliminary concerns addressed through easily accessible and highly visible social media posts, patients will feel more confident taking the next step forward in their physical therapy journey.

Destigmatize Talking About Body/Health:

For a lot of people, talking about their bodily ailments can be embarrassing or something they are not comfortable sharing. By bringing the discussion into the public sphere, new/returning patients will feel more comfortable addressing their concerns as your entity has helped to build their trust and assuage any embarrassment or fear around talking about their bodies and their ailments.

New Way to Market:

In 2020, 68% of health care marketers increased their spending on online/social media ads over 2019. The best-placed ads are where people will see them – and share them! – and with the vast majority of Americans on social media, marketing your entity on these platforms increases your visibility. If you do not do it, you know your competitor will, so staying on top of client’s minds is important for your success. Moreover, ads that are placed on platforms such as Facebook can target people in your area- making your ads relevant to those seeking your services.

Make social media work for your physical therapy practice! Perform Practice Solutions has got you covered! From blogs to newsletters to managing your social media account, we are ready to optimize your online presence! We will take care of your digital footprint so you can focus on what you do best- patient care! Visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PerformPracticeSolutions/ or give us a call at  (833) 764-0178 to get us working for you!

The 13 Biggest Small Business Technology Stories Of 2020

One of the best things small businesses can do is learn from the past to improve the future. And there are many lessons to be taken from 2020! Here is an insightful overview of some of the top SMB technology stories to peruse for some takeaways.

Every week I round up the five most important technology stories for small businesses and give an explanation of why. This week, I’ve selected the 13 technology stories that stood out for me. Why? Because they’re about technology trends that not only affected small businesses in 2020 but will continue to have an enormous impact in 2021. Here they are.

1 – Small businesses who pivoted to e-commerce saw record sales during Black Friday weekend. 

According to information released by Adobe Analytics, small businesses saw a 110% average increase in their online sales throughout the 2020 holiday season so far with a big boost coming during Black Friday weekend. (Source: NBC News)

Why this is important for your small business:

Depending on the research you’re reading, e-commerce sales have increased anywhere from 30 to 45% this year over last year. Of course, this was caused by the pandemic, but it really just accelerated an already existing trend. Small businesses that pivoted online were better able to navigate their way through this year’s unprecedented economic downturn. Those who didn’t suffer more…and will continue to be at a disadvantage in 2021 unless they do so.

2 – A hacker group donated their ransoms to charities.

So you’re not going to believe this but a ransomware group named Darkside disclosed that it has been donating portions of ransoms received from companies they’ve hacked to various charities. The group —which has been operating since August of this year—typically attacks big corporations, encrypts and steals their data, then demands a large ransom costing companies millions. The group released a statement that they only focus on big, for-profit organizations, and have taken pride in giving a portion of the paid ransom to charities such as Children International to help children in poverty, among several other non-profits. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your small business:

Ransomware is a billion-dollar industry and is so profitable that hacker groups, like this one, is literally paying it forward with money it has stolen from companies that paid it ransom. Ransomware and other security attacks – like the recent SolarWinds attack that impacted the treasury, commerce, and other government departments – will continue to wreak devastation on organizations of all sizes in 2021. Backup. Get software. Upgrade your operating systems. But most importantly get training.

3 – A Microsoft engineer was been sentenced to nine years for stealing $10 million from Microsoft.

Volodymyr Kvashuk— a former Microsoft software engineer—was recently sentenced to a term of nine years in prison after stealing over $10 million from the company’s online store in the form of store credit. Over the course of 2016 through 2018, the engineer was in charge of testing the online ordering process to help monitor and ensure all was operating properly. While the testing software prohibited physical shipments to testers, a loophole allowed for testers to buy gift cards virtually. Through the virtual purchases, Kvashuk stole enough to buy a $1.6 million home and a Tesla which cost $160,000. (Source: ARS Technica)

Why this is important for your small business:

Even the biggest companies with the best technologies can still get duped. Microsoft may not even miss the $10 million but employee theft like this could cripple a small business. This issue will continue to be pervasive in the years to come. I offered a few suggestions for protecting yourself here.

4 – Boeing 747s are still using floppy disks. Yes, floppy disks.

A recent report uncovered that Boeing 747s— a plane that’s been around for decades— continue to use floppy disks to get important software updates. Recently, members of the security research team at Pen Test Partners had the chance to fully examine the entirety of the plane’s avionics, discovering a disk drive that still used floppy disks. According to the report, the disk drive was utilized to import vital data that guided the plane’s navigation and required updates once a month that was installed by an engineer who would visit on site. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your small business:

Before you freak out, I actually kind of understand this, mainly because many of my small business clients do the same. Despite all the experts who urge that we always use the latest technologies, there’s a reason to stick with the old stuff: if it works, don’t break it. Perhaps the cost/benefit of changing out these archaic floppy disk systems isn’t worth the effort. That’s a question for Boeing to answer. But countless small business owners use this rationale when they decide where to spend their investment dollars. And in many cases, the decision to stay with older tech makes better sense if the ROI can’t be justified. Replacing older tech with something newer will continue being debated this year.

5 – Twitter announced that employees will be allowed to work from home ‘forever.’

Twitter announced that they will permit their employees to work remotely ‘forever.’ The company was one of the pioneers in allowing their employees to work from home when the COVID-19 outbreak first began. While employees who wish to work in the office will still be able to, they will need to wait until restrictions are officially lifted. Individuals who want to work from home instead will now be able to do so as often and as long as they’d like as long as their role and circumstances allow it. (Source: The Guardian)

Why this is important for your small business:

Kind of surprised that tech companies like Twitter haven’t been doing this for a while. We all know those cloud technologies are good enough to enable employees to work productivity from home. My expectation is that a lot of companies – including many small businesses – will be expanding their work from home policies. And then after a few years, scaling them back when they realize that face-to-face interactions is what really makes an innovative company grow. But we’ll see…

6 – Microsoft Teams is getting fake coffee shops, breakout rooms, custom layouts, and is launching new Cortana features for business users.  

Microsoft also recently announced new features for their Together Mode, which was designed specifically to address COVID-19 remote work meeting woes. While Together Mode is not new to Teams, some of the features — such as virtual conference rooms, auditoriums, and coffee shops — are. (Sources: The Verge, Tech Crunch)

Why this is important for your small business:

Per another report on The Verge back in April, Microsoft claimed 75 million daily active users of Teams, a surge of 70% in a month. Google Meet, Zoom, and Citrix also claim hundreds of millions of daily meeting participants. These applications are accepted, useful, productive and most of all…work. They were instrumental during the pandemic and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

7 — Netflix raised prices on standard and premium plans.

Netflix raised prices on both their premium and standard plans to $17.99 per month for premium and $13.99 for standard. Previously the standard plan cost $12.99 while the premium plan was $15.99 a month. Customers will see the changes reflected in their upcoming bills in the next two months and will also get an alert one month before the change occurs. The basic Netflix plan will stay at $8.99/month, which remains the same as when the entry-level option was rolled out in 2019. (Source: CNBC)

Why this is important for your small business:

This scares me. Why? Because small businesses are more reliant on the cloud than ever – just check out the stories I’ve already mentioned. But although security is a concern, I have a much bigger concern about the cloud and Netflix personifies it. Because Netflix is a cloud company. It delivers an online service. And – quietly – they just increased their prices without much opposition. What are you going to do? Give up another season of Ozark? Never! But for a business owner, the risk is what happens the companies providing our cloud applications do the same thing. We’ve got little means to stop them.

8 — Google now officially supports running Chrome OS on old PCs.

This year, Google obtained Neverware, a company that has provided PC users with the ability to turn their machines into Chromebooks or Macs through their CloudReady software. With the acquisition, Google will begin to implement plans in order to make CloudReady available as a formal Chrome OS rollout. With the transition, users will be able to effortlessly update their software and will be provided with Google support for CloudReady, just like Chrome OS users get. According to the announcement, Google will recognize any current licenses that span over several years and there are also no plans to change prices. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your small business:

This is also a potential game-changer for small businesses, particularly those on a budget. Think of it: you’ve got an old Windows or Apple machine and instead of tossing it you turn it into a Chromebook. By doing so you’ll be able to realize very similar functionalities for much lower hardware investment.

9 —Banks are quietly drifting into accounting.

Wells Fargo and accounts payable management platform Bill.com joined forces to create a feature to assist small and medium-sized businesses in gaining access to automation for accounts receivable and accounts payable processes. The partnership will help streamline workflow into a digital process while adding additional features such as electronically capturing and tracking invoices, to name a few. Meanwhile, TD bank said that they will be introducing TD Online Accounting, which will serve as a new online accounting and payment feature. The addition will be made to their small business online platform and will allow business owners to pay their electronic payments and credit cards straight from their TD Bank business checking, allowing the process of making payments to run more efficiently. (Source: Pymnts (Wells) and Pymnts (TD))

Why this is important for your small business:

These are just two examples, of many during 2020, where banks are either more fully integrating with small business accounting products or simply offering their own bookkeeping options to their small business customers. My prediction is for more banks to gobble accounting software makers and create more cozy relationships with others in the space. It makes sense.

10 —Customer service chats are coming to Instagram DMs.  

Businesses will now be able to provide live customer service agents to assist users posing frequently asked questions through Instagram. With the ability to field questions through Stories and Shops on Instagram, businesses will also be able to merge the social media platform with their CRMs, providing the ability to keep track of order and message history from customers. The most recent version of the messenger is currently being tested by big brands such as Adidas, H&M, and Michael Kors—to name a few—and is not yet widely available. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your small business:

Instagram is owned by Facebook and part of Facebook’s strategy – as told to me in this interview by Rich Rao, Facebook’s Vice President of Small Business – is to expand its e-commerce capabilities. Over the next few years small businesses who sell their products on both platforms will be seeing more tools like the ones mentioned above to sell their products and provide customer service. Could Facebook, with its billions of users, be a better platform to generate revenues for your business than Amazon?

11 — Google Translate now lets you transcribe conversations in real-time.

Google has announced that they launched a new feature in their Translate Android app that will allow users to transcribe conversations—in real-time—into other languages. The new feature will support Thai, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Hindi, German, French, and English. Users will easily be able to touch the new “transcribe” icon from their home screen and select the target languages and source and tap the microphone icon in order to start, stop, pause, or restart their chosen transcription. (Source: CNET)

Why this is important for your small business:

Microsoft and Amazon Alexa now provide similar translation and transcription services. The world is getting closer and that’s going to make it easier for small businesses to do business overseas.

12 —Augmented Reality technologies are growing fast, thanks to the pandemic.

Augmented reality is becoming a key factor in helping companies make sales during the coronavirus pandemic. Brides and bridesmaids can now shop virtually through David’s Bridal website and their augmented reality feature. Shoppers are able to load mannequins in 3-D on their website, select a dress, allowing them a 360-degree view and chance to inspect the dress closely, getting a good look at the fabric and details of the dress. Similarly Avataar. me — which is an advertising platform driven by AI — is helping companies by transforming 2D pictures into 3D in order to help shoppers get a closer look at things like cars, houses, and furniture. (Source: Retail Wire and Your Story)

Why this is important for your small business:

Thanks to Covid, businesses – both big and small – are looking for new and innovative ways to show their products in a safe and virtual way and because of that Augmented reality applications and uses are expanding at a greater rate. This is a trend that will continue to accelerate in the next few years and if you’re in a business that could benefit – retail, field service, real estate – these technologies are important to consider.

13 — This machine makes 700 pieces of sushi per hour.

California roll, anyone? The Suzomo machine is the newest player in the culinary robot field, with the ability to make perfect sushi rolls in mere seconds. While finding a talented sushi chef at a reasonable wage is proving to be difficult, the machine is able to make approximately 700 pieces of fresh sushi per hour, tasting just like handmade sushi rolls. The company says that the popularity of its machines has grown quickly, allowing restaurants to run efficiently with less staff. (Source: ABC 7)

Why this is important for your small business:

Less staff are the two most important words here. As minimum wage and other benefits drive up compensation costs many smaller restaurants are looking for ways to keep overhead (and employment headaches) to a minimum – and so they’re investing in technology. An automatic sushi maker is only one example of how robotics are speeding up food preparation…with no bathroom breaks needed. Smart financial advisors should be making their restaurant clients aware of this major trend.

Reference: {https://www.forbes.com/sites/quickerbettertech/2021/01/03/the-13-biggest-small-business-technology-stories-of-2020/}

Perform Practice Solutions can help you to optimize your day-to-day operations and improve your clinic’s performance. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PerformPracticeSolutions or give us a call at  (833) 764-0178 to see how we can help elevate your physical therapy practice!

Let’s talk about your business challenges today.

Our fresh perspectives, experience, and specialized skill sets will get your practice where you want it, and with far less stress. (833) 764-0178

Three Business Lessons Every Leader Should Take Away From 2020

It is a relief to close the door on 2020 and look ahead to 2021. But there are valuable business lessons to take away from the most unconventional year we all just endured. Here are three that are worth reviewing.

We are nearing the finish line of a year that many people will forever associate with difficult challenges and pain. Lessons will undoubtedly emerge from all of the personal hardships.

On the professional front, it’s hard to imagine any employee, manager, or leader who didn’t experience some major shift in their company or the way it operates – some positive things and many negative. They too are walking away from 2020 with key insights and observations that will hopefully strengthen their companies for the challenges ahead.

While there is an infinite list of lessons that we all could take away from this year, some are more critical than others for leaders who are trying to best manage their ship in waves of uncertainty.

Here are three key takeaways that business executives and senior leaders should recognize as we enter 2021:

  • Contingency Planning For Emerging Concerns Is Critical

How will your company react the next time a health crisis starts to appear on the other side of the world? Do your communications teams have an action plan for the next time-sensitive social issues weave through your industry?

Whether it’s planning for immediate changes in how employees work or for addressing company policy standards on relevant social issues, leaders need to have a documented contingency plan for how, when, and to what degree action needs to be taken.

As we’ve seen from events over the last year, no department or functional role is immune to sudden shifts from external forces.

Step one is about developing some type of action plan and communication strategy earlier for emerging events that could have some direct or indirect impact on the business.

While this could seem daunting, focus on what threats would most directly affect your company’s ability to operate, your employees and their well-being, and your culture or your brand in the eyes of your customers. Simply put, ask yourself what events in the business, social, global landscape are surfacing right now that may become a concern for us tomorrow.

You should create or refine a plan for the things on that list that look highly likely or disproportionately threatening. The same should be done for opportunities that arise in the market that could be favorable for your company.

Step two is about ensuring all the relevant stakeholders have access to the plan and communication streams so that everyone knows what to expect when action is needed.

JPMorgan Chase is one clear example of how a company created and actually tested a plan in preparation for what ended up being a necessity. In late February and early March, it was reported that the company used a contingency plan named “Project Kennedy” to test how thousands of employees could work from home in the event that the coronavirus outbreak spread further.

This was well before any other large company issued a formal work-from-home program that was associated with the health crisis. Fast forward to today, it could reasonably be said that it served the company really well.

  • Your Company’s Brand Is Dynamic And Always Faces Risks

Just as a contingency plan can help your organization balance the challenging demands that may emerge from a national crisis or growing social restlessness, your brand needs the same level of thoughtfulness about what you communicate to your consumers, employees, and community. What your company stands for and how it markets itself to the public is less of a headache during good times, but it can truly be a make or break for your brand during bad times.

Topics of equality, justice, diversity, public health, and employee wellness are all among the things being considered by consumers as they engage with brands today. Today’s executives and managers need to view the maintenance of their brand as a true work-in-progress, no longer simply a line item for the marketing department.

When Nike ran a controversial campaign with Colin Kaepernick during the midst of the kneeling during the national anthem debate, it wasn’t immediately clear just how it would be received. When Quinnipiac University National Poll later released their findings, it was clear that public support was in their favor and sales followed.

The company didn’t rest from its prior efforts on social issues, it continued to build consumer trust on a topic that it knows people care about. They remained dynamic with their brand and it served them well, in part, because of consumer loyalty and brand affinity that it earned.

On the other hand, we’ve seen stories recently surface about tech companies that refuse to take a stance on social issues and prohibit political speech. In an age when more companies have taken the opposite approach, it will be interesting to see how actions like these impact a business or a customer’s willingness to support it.

  • All Assumptions Should Be Challenged Regularly

Effective executives and senior leaders create and communicate a message about why the company does what it does. This helps each stakeholder understand how their role fits into a larger vision. Hopefully, when a contingency plan is created, as outlined earlier, everyone has a deeper understanding of how to shift strategies when the situation calls for it.

However, relying on a set of ‘what if’ plans isn’t enough. Successful leaders need to foster a culture and company environment where everyone is regularly challenging traditional assumptions. For example, it’s been well documented that some managers were skeptical of the remote work trend. Be it a lack of trust or inability to measure productivity, the reasons are plentiful.

Changing the assumptions that work is done in a singular place or office may take time, but larger widespread events like the pandemic reinforce how quickly some ideas can shift from bad to not as bad as we expected.

Does a distributed team really work most effectively through asynchronous tools like email? Is a traditional hourly pay structure right when someone is working remotely and may need more schedule flexibility? All of these long-held beliefs and processes are ripe for reconsideration.

Turning Ideas Into Action

All of these questions should be on the table and each leader owes it to their team to think through how the old ways of working can be improved. While these concepts likely won’t be at the top of the priority list, they deserve some inclusion on your ranking of objectives.

You can’t predict the future but you sure can plan more effectively for things that could arise, even if they are low-probability scenarios. That investment in time, effort, and resources could pay dividends in the future.

Finally, consider how your company’s brand and vision could be impacted through all of this. You won’t know for sure how things will land, but the exercise of thinking about it beyond a simple marketing analysis could serve you well.

The beginning of a new year is busy for some organizations but slow for others. Find a way to integrate these concepts and ideas into your annual planning and kickoff events. If 2021 ends up being anything like 2020, you’ll thank yourself for it.

Reference: {https://www.forbes.com/sites/markhall/2020/12/13/three-business-lessons-every-leader-should-take-away-from-2020/}

Perform Practice Solutions can help you to optimize your day-to-day operations and improve your practice’s performance. Visit our Facebook page at  www.facebook.com/PerformPracticeSolutions or give us a call at 702.287.6104 to see how we can help elevate your physical therapy practice!

Let’s talk about your business challenges today.

Our fresh perspectives, experience, and specialized skill sets will get your practice where you want it, and with far less stress. (833) 764-0178

Small Business Burnout? Use This Time To Rest, Rejuvenate, And Reframe Your Business Strategy

The festive season is here, and it could not have arrived any sooner for a lot of physical therapy and medical practices! Now is the time to enjoy the holidays and take some time to consider how you’re going to tackle the new year. Here are some strategies that can get the ball rolling for you.

Perform Practice Solutions has a team of industry experts available to help you enable your physical therapy or medical practice to thrive. (833) 764-0178  Info@PerformPracticeSolutions.com.

It’s been a hell of a year, hasn’t it? Between the pandemic and politics—not to mention the day-to-day stressors the average small business has—it’s been challenging to keep our heads above water, let alone think about the future.

But as things slow down a bit around this holiday season, I invite you to do three things: rest, reframe and rejuvenate. Trust me, both you and your business will be better for it.

Rest your body and mind so you can get back to crushing it

Even if you normally take a vacation, you may not have taken one this year. Where is there to go? The idea of getting on a plane wearing a mask for several hours and wiping every available surface does not appeal to many of us. I try to take at least one international trip a year and have had three trips canceled because of Covid-19 this year.

And yet, entrepreneurs desperately need that time to disconnect and unwind. Starting and running a business understandably requires more work and causes more stress: 61% of entrepreneurs have higher stress levels than when they started their businesses, and 60% struggle to take time off.

That’s bad for business.

Even if you can’t go on your annual ski vacation this year, find time for rest. That might mean taking a Friday off now and then (a practice I highly recommend!) or spending a long weekend in a cabin in the woods. Heck, it could just be getting a massage or turning off your phone after work hours if that’s the best you can do. But I encourage you not to devalue the importance of being well-rested. A brain that isn’t stressed and overtaxed can come up with innovative ideas.

Reframe how you do business

The biggest takeaway from 2020 is that we can’t rely on how we used to conduct our businesses. Whether that’s because the quarantine kept you from serving customers in person or that you had a huge learning curve for using video calls with clients, there is something that has fundamentally shifted.

Don’t take that as a one-time lesson. You may struggle now to attract business the way you used to, either because of the economic climate making consumers gun-shy about spending money or because the market has changed. The worst thing you can do is continue doing “business as usual.” These are not usual times, and even when things level off, we will need to have a permanent plan in place for what our businesses will look like moving forward.

Remember that business plan you drafted all those years ago? Now would be an excellent time to revisit it as more than likely it needs to be updated. Where you find customers, what you sell, and your long-term strategy may have shifted, so put those changes in writing; your business is there to remind you of how you might need to pivot to survive.

I’m always amazed at how resilient small businesses are. I’ve read about a day spa that transitioned to offering at-home facial kits. A magician who, being unable to give in-person performances, now has paid shows on Zoom. Restaurants that have deftly navigated changing rules and added outdoor seating and more takeaway and delivery options. Even if this year has destroyed your business, consider how you can rise out of the ashes like the beautiful phoenix you are.

Rejuvenate your love for what you do

I occasionally go through extreme burnout in my business and lose passion for what I do. It can be tough to do the same thing for years. But when I feel like I can’t go on another day, I step back. I rest. I take time away from my business and don’t even think about it for days or weeks. Inevitably, when I return, I feel better.

That might work for you. You might try something else like coming up with a new product or service or finding different industries to work with. You might learn a new skill. Or hire help to take some of the pressure off of you.

You started this business because you were passionate about it, but just like in a relationship, sometimes you have to reignite that spark. Don’t let your passion die, or running your small business will consume your soul.

And if these rejuvenation ideas don’t work, consider that it might be time to call it quits. Again, just like in a relationship, sometimes there’s a shelf life for your business, and denying that will only make you unhappy. Find an exit path and make room for something new to light you up.

I wish you the best of holidays this season. Even with such strife, we still have much to be thankful for. And who couldn’t use a little holiday cheer to wrap up what has been an overwhelming and stressful year for all?

Reference: {https://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2020/11/29/small-business-burnout-use-this-time-to-rest-rejuvenate-and-reframe-your-business-strategy/}

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Let’s talk about your business challenges today.

Our fresh perspectives, experience, and specialized skill sets will get your practice where you want it, and with far less stress.

(833) 764-0178

How Do You Stand Out From Your Competitors?

The provision of outstanding customer service is not only what makes companies stand out from their competitors but is also a large contributing factor to bringing in more business. If you’ve got a medical or physical therapy clinic, patient care should be your only focus! 

We take efficient care of the resource-draining aspects of managing your practice so you can put all of your energy into what’s most important — your clients. Here are some helpful tips to maximize client loyalty and promote growth. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PerformPracticeSolutions or give us a call at (833) 764-0178 to see how we can optimize the other aspects of your practice!

There are many ways that companies can stand out from their competition and make customers loyal to their brand. Irrespective of how big your business is or what percentage of market share your company has, it’s still crucially important to differentiate yourself and to cultivate customer loyalty. Did you know that repeat customers tend to spend up to 2 thirds more money on your company than first-time customers? Did you also know that from a sales and marketing standpoint, it’s ten times cheaper to retain a customer’s business than it is to attract a new customer? If you are interested in strategies that can help you stand out and cultivate customer loyalty, you can try out the following.

Create better communication channels between you and your customers

If you have great communication channels between you and your customers, and you utilise them frequently, you’ll have an easier time distinguishing yourself from your competitors. Communication channels include mailing lists, contact information databases, and phone numbers. Your objective here will be to pass important information about your brand along to your customers and to ensure that they don’t forget about you. You should send your customers birthday messages and occasional reminders about your promotions. You can also engage with your customers on social media as frequently as you want to, as long as you don’t spam them with too many adverts. Light-hearted and informative messages are always appreciated by customers.

Provide the best possible customer service

This should go without saying, but it’s important to remember that the quality of customer service that your company offers determines whether customers stick around. For most people, a rude or unhelpful customer service representative is a deal-breaker. If a customer has a bad experience with your service, the only way she will return is if there are no alternative services out there. Market surveys have shown that half of all customers will immediately end their relationship with a service if they had an interaction that wasn’t fulfilling. Also, remember that customers like to share their experiences with family and friends, and in our interconnected world, news of one bad customer service experience can spread like a wildfire and cost you a lot of business.

Provide loyalty incentives to your customers

Incentives and perks can make your customers feel special and appreciated, and this can make you stand out from your competitors. Depending on the type of business you are running, you can set up reward systems, send out gifts, offer access to exclusive content, or run promotions with grand prizes.

Take up a cause that will endear you to your customers

An increasing number of consumers are indicating their preference for companies and brands that give back to the community and take up causes that make a difference in people’s lives. More than ever, people want to know that their favorite brands share their values (e.g. going green, fair trade etc.). You can take up a cause or support a social program that your customers care about. You will be doing some good, and in the process, you will be distinguishing yourself from your competitors.

Offer alternative payment plans for cash-strapped customers

You can distinguish your business by creating an alternative payment plan that will attract customers who don’t have the means to pay for your product in one large installment. This works particularly well if your product or service is considered a large one-time purchase (e.g. large appliances, jewelry, home improvement services, etc.). Accepting payments in installments can help ensure that you have a healthy cash flow all year round if your business is seasonal.

Don’t be overly reliant on modern technology

Companies are rushing to automate most of their services as a cost-cutting measure, but this has a negative effect on customer loyalty. The fact is that people prefer human interactions to automated prompts. If your customers call your support services and all they can find on the other end is a robotic voice that doesn’t offer them much help, they’ll become frustrated and they’ll assume that you are taking them for granted.

Offer the kind of quality that inspires passion and devotion

When all is said and done, the best way to stand out from your competitors is to provide products or services of better quality than everyone else’s. If your product is the absolute best, it will practically sell itself. It’s possible to offer the kind of quality that makes people passionate about your product and devoted to your brand. For example, many Apple customers believe that the company’s products are the best, and they are dedicated to the brand to a similar extent as some people are dedicated to their religions.

Reference: {http://englishmartyrs.net/how-do-you-stand-out-from-your-competitors/}

Let’s talk about your business challenges today.

Our fresh perspectives, experience, and specialized skill sets will get your practice where you want it, and with far less stress.

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Yelp data shows 60% of business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic are now permanent

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Yelp recently released its latest Economic Impact Report, revealing business closures across the U.S. are increasing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll.

As of Aug, 31, 163,735 businesses have indicated on Yelp that they have closed. That’s down from the 180,000 that closed at the very beginning of the pandemic. However, it actually shows a 23% increase in the number of closures since mid-July.

In addition to monitoring closed businesses, Yelp also takes into account the businesses whose closures have become permanent. That number has steadily increased throughout the past six months, now reaching 97,966, representing 60% of closed businesses that won’t be reopening.

“Overall, Yelp’s data shows that business closures have continued to rise with a 34% increase in permanent closures since our last report in mid-July,” Justin Norman, vice president of data science at Yelp, told CNBC.

Yelp’s September report marks six months since March 1, the date that the company considers to be the beginning of the business crisis.

In order to gather closure data, Yelp monitors changes in business hours or descriptions on its app, offering an immediate, localized view of the impact the pandemic has had on small businesses.

“Despite the hard-hit small businesses have certainly taken, we’ve seen that home, local, professional and automotive services have been able to withstand the effects of the pandemic better than other industries,” Norman noted.

The data supports the trend that most consumers are choosing to stay home over patronizing establishments physically, as home and professional services such as landscapers, contractors, and lawyers, see a much lower closure rate than clothing stores and even home decor businesses. Auto and towing services also reported a relatively low closure rate.

“Consumers still need these services,” Norman said. “Through the rise of virtual consultations and contactless or socially distanced services, these businesses have been particularly resilient during this time.”

Throughout the past six months, restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues have been hit the hardest by the restrictions brought by the pandemic: 32,109 restaurants have closed, as of Aug. 31. The number of restaurants forced to permanently close is slightly above Yelp’s total average, at 61%.

Yelp has also noted that businesses already well suited for takeouts, such as pizza places, coffee shops, and delis, are treading water better than other restaurants. The types of restaurants with the highest closures include breakfast and brunch places, sandwich shops, and Mexican restaurants.

Norman noted that policy changes in the coming weeks and months could have an impact on whether these closures turn permanent. “The continued rollout of indoor dining, especially in metros like New York City, will be worth watching as it will be critical for businesses to maintain the right balance of practicing social distancing and other responsible safety measures to ensure they can stay open.”

Bars and nightlife venues have also seen a large impact from the pandemic, as a business that can’t adapt as easily to outdoor dining or takeout. Despite being a sector that is six times smaller than restaurants, 6,451 venues have closed. The rate of permanent closures has increased by 10% since July, now sitting at 54%.

Retail saw a similar increase in permanent closures since July, rising 10% to a total of 58% indicated permanent. That’s out of 30,374 closed retail businesses.

The report showed a surprising month-over-month rise in permanent closures for beauty businesses — since July, about 42% more businesses were indicated as permanently closed. Total closures for the beauty industry sit at 16,585, which is a 22% increase since July.

Different states are also facing varying degrees of closures, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Yelp sees a correlation between states with a high number of closures and states with a high unemployment rate. Looking at closures per 1,000 for each state, Hawaii has been hit the hardest, followed by California, Nevada, Arizona, and Washington state. Hawaii’s unemployment rate sat at 13% in July, and the state also relies heavily on tourism.

“Due to the pandemic, these states were greatly impacted by travel restrictions and also face high rates of unemployment,” said Norman. “These states are also home to the hardest-hit metros including Las Vegas, Honolulu, and several of the largest California urban areas like San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles.”

Yelp has also noted discrepancies between large cities, where closures are higher and businesses are not faring as well, and smaller areas, which have proved more forgiving to small businesses. Los Angeles and New York report the highest number of closures: Los Angeles has seen 15,000 closures, half of which are permanent, and New York has seen more than 11,000 closures, with a high rate of 63% reported as permanent.

“Meanwhile, we’re actually seeing larger metros with fewer closures in the East, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Baltimore,” Norman noted.

Ultimately, Yelp’s data shows that Main Street is still feeling the economic impact of the pandemic, and many states and areas of business may not see a recovery soon.

“While it’s hard to say when we can expect business closures to stabilize, we’ve continued to see businesses successfully adapt to these uncertain times over the last six months thanks to their own hard work, innovation, and local policy changes,” Norman said.

Correction: Yelp on Wednesday released its latest Economic Impact Report. An earlier version misstated the report’s name.

Reference: {https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/16/yelp-data-shows-60percent-of-business-closures-due-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic-are-now-permanent.html}

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