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Effective Internal Cross-marketing

By: Susie Naficy
Posted: January 28, 2010, from the November 2009 issue of
Medical professionals look at a chart

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If staff members are benefiting from production-based incentives, they will be less likely to promote alternative or complementary services due to the fear that they may lose a patient to another staff member or the physician. Although monetary incentives can be beneficial in many ways, consider the downside when it comes to your internal cross-marketing program where cooperation among staff members is required.

Eliminating incentive-based pay does not necessarily mean a reduction in pay for the employee, nor does it mean an increase in cost to the practice. Salary is an option, although state laws need to be checked in order to make sure certain types of employees are eligible to be treated as exempt. Monetary compensation can also be replaced by sweetening nonmonetary benefits, such increasing vacation time or offering complimentary cosmetic treatments. The snag with this is that if certain employees are used to earning a commission, it is very difficult to take it away.

This is why physicians and managers need to think about their compensation plans thoroughly before instituting them because once in place, change can be very difficult.

CASE STUDY. A physician was paying estheticians on commission—based on production—and loved the results since it seemed to make the estheticians work very hard. When the physician hired a nurse to start offering Botox and dermal fillers at his practice, he encouraged the estheticians to promote the nurse’s services to their existing patient base. Despite strong foot traffic generated by the estheticians’ services, the nurse was not very busy. The physician later learned that the estheticians were not introducing the nurse’s services to their patients, since many could only afford Botox or a facial—not both, and the estheticians did not want to risk losing their commission. Once the physician eliminated incentive-based pay, the nurse became much busier—and patients benefited by being much happier with treatments and results that better suited their rejuvenation goals.

3. Create an incentive program

An alternative to individual incentives is to create a group incentive program with your internal cross-marketing program as the beneficiary. Creating a common goal for your staff to work toward is a wonderful team-building and morale-boosting activity. An example is offering an all-staff dinner or an off-site retreat, if certain milestones are met. A group incentive program can be anything where the team works together to meet a goal for the mutual benefit of the group as a whole. The physician or manager should set milestones for the entire staff, such as achieving a certain number of Botox injections for the month or converting a certain number of consultations, and reward the team when the goal is accomplished. The reward can be lavish—spa days or retreats; or simple—a catered lunch at the office or an early closing. The point is to give the staff incentive to increase production, as well as work together as a team.