I really appreciate this service. I am a newbie in the industry. I started my administrative support service targeting doctors in the August 2012 and got my first client in December. The doctor signed an agreement for me to find him a new medical billing service. I put my heart and soul into that project. The problem is, I’ve received no feedback or payment from the client. I promised the six medical billing services I contacted that I would get back to them this week on my client’s decision. Because I’ve received no feedback from the client, I don’t know what to say to the medical billing services. Should I be completely honest and upfront with them about what has happened? If not, how do you suggest I proceed? My fear is now that I’ve provided the doctor with the details of all medical billing services contact info, that he contacted the one of his choice directly. That’s fine, but it puts me in a difficult position because I don’t know how to proceed or what to tell the other services. Not to mention, I don’t know which (if any) he’s chosen. Please advise as to how you’d handle this situation. Thanks SO much! —Felisa Wash
This is a common mistep with new business owners such as yourself (I prefer to call them “freshman” rather than “newbies.”) It may be that you just have to chock this one up to lessons learned.
Let me preface things by reiterating that my business advice is geared toward ongoing (monthly) support work and relationships with clients rather than one-off/ad hoc projects like that.
Ad hoc projects of that nature are rarely worthwhile financially so I don’t get involved with them in the first place. What I’m focused on doing and helping others do is how to have a monthly retainer-based practice and work with clients in that kind of ongoing support relationship. It’s more financially worthwhile and where the bigger, more consistent cashflow is.
That said, some thoughts do pop up.
You state that you’re caught in a predicament of not knowing how to follow-up with the medical billing services you contact. What I’m wondering is if that was even your role to do so.
I would have to ask more questions about what you contracted to do for the doctor, what roles and outcomes were discussed, but it sounds like basically you were just supposed to research medical billing services and then provide that information to the doctor so he could weigh his options, make his own decision and proceed from there.
If that’s the case, there wasn’t ever any need for you to engage in what amounts to negotiating talks with those services and therefore no reason for you to follow-up with them. So, I think one lesson might be to not create obligations where there’s no need to do so.
Beyond that I think the important lesson here involves examining how you go about engaging in business and adjusting things moving forward.
No matter what work is involved, whether it’s an ad-hoc project or ongoing administrative support, there should always be 1) some level of consultation with clients (and if you are providing ongoing/monthly administrative support rather than piecemeal project work, that consultation is going to be more lengthy and involved), 2) signing of a contract and 3) money upfront.
If your doctor client paid no money and you’ve provided him with all the goods, he has no incentive to take you seriously and not waste your time. If it turns out that he has stiffed you, here’s how to avoid that in the future >>
This is where some foundational work would benefit you greatly in establishing and building your business.
You say doctors are your target market, which is great that you have that. I would tell you to narrow that down even further.
What kind of doctors? What specific specialty do they practice in?
Because a business specializing in one practice area can be operated and administrated completely differently from one in another practice area. Which means the support and solutions you offer them will be completely different.
If you’re going to really resonate with potential clients, you need to determine EXACTLY who your audience (i.e., target market) is so that you can focus your message, be more compelling and be able to research and learn how you can best support them and how to offer your solutions. That simply cannot be done in any general way.
As you go about that work, you begin to also easily see that it’s always going to be the solo and small practice/boutique physicians who will have the greatest need for administrative support such as ours and, thus, place more value in it, so focus your efforts there.
The other foundational part of determining and narrowing down your target market is also clarifying who your ideal client is.
While a target market is simply a very narrow/specific field/industry/profession you cater to, an ideal client profile is where you sit down and make a list of all the traits, characteristics and demographics of kind of person you’d like to work with and with whom you work best.
Do you prefer to work with men or women? What kind of personality and workstyle does your ideal client have? Do they need to earn a certain amount of income in order to work with you (so that you aren’t inheriting money issues that will cause difficulties in your business and relationship with them)?
These are just a few of the questions that might come to mind as you go about compiling this list. And it’s a list that you will add to and refine throughout the life of your business as you work with more people and get clearer and clearer about who is ideal for you.
So basically, an ideal client is the kind of person you work best with and seek to find within your target market.
Getting conscious about these things will help you weed out non-ideal clients and better help prequalify your ideal clients when they show up. You will also be able to better hone your message on your website to help in the prequalifying process so that it attracts more of the people you want to work with and weeds out those who don’t.
My guess is that you may still have lots of work to do in getting clear and conscious about your standards as well as policies and procedures and operations and workflows in your biz. This may be a bit overwhelming, but it’s what’s involved in growing a business and getting clients who pay and pay attention to you so I can’t tell you otherwise.
I also have a product that gives you a roadmap or system, if you will, of policies and procedures that will help get you on the right path.
Just remember, you don’t have to learn it all overnight. This is going to be a process and a journey. You’ll make misteps, but that’s okay because you will gain valuable experience, lessons and insights from them.
I think right now the best next step you can take is to read, which is simple and doesn’t cost anything but your time. Read through the entire ACA website and then my blog. That will help flesh out some of the ideas and concepts you will need to start tightening things up in your biz and figuring what you really want to be doing and who you really want to be working with.
Lastly, remember, you won’t get what you don’t ask for.
If you aren’t focusing prospects on becoming retained clients, then you’re just going to keep getting non committal, nickel-and-dime project work and clients. If you want retained clients, that’s what your entire website message, marketing and efforts need to be focused on getting.
You can pick up projects through your networking and other avenues, but keep if you want a retainer-based practice, keep your website focused on that message and getting those kind of clients.
Hope that helps somewhat, and thanks for the question!