There’s no way around it: if you have a practice that offers in-person services, for you to succeed, you need the support of your local community. But, what you might not have thought about is that this is actually great news – you have a unique opportunity to establish yourself and your practice in the minds of potential clients. It’s a local advantage that may give you the edge you need to compete with larger, more established practices in your field.
However, it does require active participation. And that is easier said than done when you’re juggling a thousand and one tasks as both a small business owner and healthcare practitioner.
Once you start looking around, you will quickly identify many different opportunities to boost your community involvement. This is an exciting way to motivate your employees, network with other professionals and influencers in the community, all while doing a good deed.
There are six important reasons why giving back can help build your practice:
It feels good
It’s no secret that giving back makes you happier and, according to a study by the Harvard Business School, it creates a never-ending loop of happiness as the more you give, the happier you get which motivates you to give even more.
It applies directly to healthcare practitioners where, instead of contributing to burnout, it can stimulate a new passion for your field and the difference you can make in the world.
And, giving doesn’t just make us feel good; it makes us healthier too. There could be a number of reasons for this, but the most likely is that it helps decrease blood pressure and reduce stress which is linked to a variety of health problems.
It’s consistent with your values and ethics
When we give back, there’s often a sense of paying it forward. It’s an opportunity to provide others in the community with opportunities that you’ve been given in the past. And it’s not just the big gestures. It can be something as small as sourcing the products and services that you need for your practice locally.
It can strengthen your community
When you give back to your community, you are contributing to a better community and creating an opportunity to get to know the individuals that are potential customers for your practice. Small businesses are the backbone of a connected community, and many people will seek out the personal touch. As big business continues to take over communities, small businesses, like healthcare practices, have opportunities to focus on causes that matter to the community and can still have important effects.
It creates goodwill
Philanthropy, especially if your target market includes millennials, is essential for attracting new clients. Younger people are more likely to choose businesses that contribute to charity. But it’s not enough just to talk the talk, the work you do should be measurable and have a unique impact. Millennials are particularly interested in education and health care, both of which fall within your field of expertise.
The stats show us that:
- 90% of people trust and are loyal to companies that actively give back.
- 84% tell others when they see a business giving back in the community.
- 79% prefer to work for a company that cares.
It opens up networking opportunities
When your practice gets involved with local events, you’re supporting the community and, at the same time, you’re connecting with local leaders and influencers. Keep in mind that it can help to get involved in projects that are relevant to your target clients in order to get your name out there and position yourself as an expert.
It increases your exposure
If your practice is quite new, you have probably already found out the hard way that finding your first 100 clients is the most difficult task that any business faces. You might be trying social media, using local advertising and asking for referrals, but maybe you haven’t thought of sponsoring a local event. The best way to go about this is to find a cause that aligns with your services and will attract attention from the types of people that make up your target market.
What can you do?
With these great reasons for giving back, the question is then, what practical steps can your practice take to start giving back in a way that is both meaningful and helps build your practice?
Promote other local businesses
Help out other businesses in the area by buying local whenever possible, and share information about local businesses through your website, social channels, and even in your waiting room. Cross-networking with other non-competing companies, especially if they attract a similar market, helps you reach more people and help out other business owners who may be in the same boat. It’s a win-win!
Partner with a charity or local business to sponsor an event
This may be in the form of sponsoring a prize for a charity raffle, sponsoring an athlete who is raising funds for a cause, or providing your services free of charge for a community-based event.
Sponsor a local sporting team
This form of giving doesn’t require a large time investment and could be in the form of kitting out a youth sports team, helping out with funding, or providing your services on event days. By doing this, you make it possible for the team to participate, and you get publicity in exchange.
Offer your services at a local event
If you own a physio practice, this might mean setting up massage tables at a local run. For a paediatric OT practice, you may want to offer free educational seminars at a child expo.
Offer free training for people in the community
As a private practice owner in your community, you have a unique skill set that is valuable to others. You might consider giving free classes to local residents to teach them a specialised skill, and this can be done by yourself or one of your staff members.
Other ideas include free resources to those that need it most, maybe in the form of offering your services one day a month to a retirement home in the area or volunteering at an underprivileged school. Helping to be part of something that is bigger than just you and your practice will build a sense of purpose and meaning.
Donate a portion of your profits
This is straightforward where you donate a portion of your profits to a named beneficiary or beneficiaries. If the idea of this doesn’t resonate with you, consider choosing different causes to support throughout the year, which can be tied into your social media marketing campaigns. If many of your clients are female, you could align with a local charity organisation in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you’re an occupational therapist, you could have an educational drive in April for National Occupational Therapy Month.
Encourage employee volunteerism
Then, lastly, remember that this is a team effort. You want to lead from the front, but also give space to your employees for them to get involved in causes that are close to their hearts. It’s becoming more commonplace to give employees paid time off for volunteering. Your practice can show support for the community you work in by allocating a specific amount of time per quarter for volunteer work. This has the dual benefit of boosting employee morale as well as increasing involvement within the community.
Your practice is a small business and forms a vital part of your local community, so it’s important to show support for the people and businesses who support you. You need to find your own expression and avenues for giving as this helps with purpose and a sense of authenticity because it aligns with your values and ethics.
Whether you volunteer your time or pledge money, your decision to give and build into your community is so much more than just ticking off from a to-do list. Not only does it make you feel good and build morale within the practice, but it also fosters community connection, creates a sense of goodwill, and, ultimately, gives you the exposure to build up your practice.