Next month, our cash-based clinic and medical spa will be celebrating our five-year anniversary. Recently I had a chance to go over profit-loss statements for the last year, and when pinpointing our most profitable month, it started on the night when we hosted our first open house at our practice. I am sure all of you have heard the benefits of an open house and some may think that it takes lots of work to be successful. That is certainly true! However, despite last minute changes, unreliable vendors, and a late start, our open house was a smashing success. Along the way our staff learned a few lessons that will help you have a successful open house for your practice.
1. Plan weeks, sometimes months ahead
When deciding on a date, you want to make sure all your employees that need to be there are available. No vacations, no dentist appointments, everything should be cleared in anticipation of the date. The date can often sneak up on you quicker than you might think. It's important to identify a date, and even have an alternative date, in anticipation of weather or other unplanned issues. Open houses generally last two to three hours in length, we recommend starting around 5:00pm on a weeknight for maximum attendance.
You want to have a good idea of who you want to invite; your patients, vendors, perhaps even other local businesses. If you are mailing invitations, do so at least six to eight weeks in advance. Be sure all your email and regular mailing lists are up to date.
2. Define the goals
You should have an idea on the purpose of your open house in the first place. Is it just strictly for revenue? Is it about building awareness in your local community? Is it launching a grand opening or celebrating a milestone? Is it unveiling a new product or service or is it to connect with local business? You should identify one or possibly two themes for your open house. Too many objectives can leave your open house scattered and unfocused. Hold a brainstorm meeting with your key staff early on so that everyone is on the same page.
3. Carve out a budget
On the day of our open house, we not only wanted to focus on our five year anniversary, but also as an appreciation for all our loyal patients. Each attendee got their own goodie bag that included promotional mugs with our logo, apparel, and inexpensive gadgets to help improve their health. We had giveaways and raffles that include prizes like FitBit watches and gift certificates for future appointments. Everyone appreciates high-quality food, so this is one area that you do not want to go cheap.
4. Don't forget your neighbors
In our business complex, our neighboring businesses include chiropractors, tax service businesses, and salons, as well as other medical practices. Not only is it courteous to let them know you are having an open house, it may make sense for you to include them in the festivities. Some successful open houses have non-competing adjoining businesses be allowed to set up their own booth, in exchange for helping with costs. We were surprised when our vendors offered to pay for a significant portion of our open house. Again, as long as it fits within your theme and what you want to do, there will be others who will be willing participants.
5. Market, Market, Market!
For our open house one of the most successful things that we did was alert our local Chamber of Commerce of whom we are members. Our Chamber sent out email blasts and reminders about our event. If you want to form new relations with other businesses, an open house is a great icebreaker. We use all forms of marketing at our disposal, including email and text marketing to our current patients, timely reminders on Facebook, and social media leading up to the event.
6. Have Fun
One of our goals was to draw in new patients to our practice, while providing an entertaining evening. Our open house not only included educational seminars and procedure demonstrations but we had raffles and giveaways of valuable prizes and gift certificates. If patients brought in new friends or family members, they would be issued more raffle tickets. Depending on your budget you may want to have local musicians, DJs and other and other entertainers, as long as it matches the theme and purpose of the event.
A successful open house can help a relatively new practice draw attention and community awareness, while providing excitement to a more established practice. If you have had a successful open house in your practice, feel free to add your tips or comments to this article.