Times of economic turmoil offer small business owners some of the best opportunities to see their businesses in a different light. Economic upheaval gives us an excuse (as if we need one) to examine our business model and, if need be, turn it completely upside down.
One enterprising small business owner, dentist Thomas P. Roemer, has done just that. While most dentists work out of traditional offices, Dr. Roemer works out of a building at the world’s largest truck stop in Walcott, Iowa. Roemer used to have a practice in the nearby town of Davenport, but recently decided to open up an office at the truck stop. Why? Because he has always gotten consistent business from long-haul truck drivers who were in pain and in need of immediate help. That gave Roemer an idea.
Go Where the Patients Are
While many doctors and dentists see their businesses shrinking as people try to save money by skipping regular checkups and dental cleanings, people in pain need immediate help. The truckers who call on Roemer need help now, and the truck stop gets 35,000 visitors per week. As Roemer puts it, “You have people walking in holding their jaws in pain. Treatment is not optional — they need to see a dentist, and they need to see me now.” Thus Roemer gets a steady stream of business from people who cannot opt for a cheaper solution because their pain is overwhelming.
Instead of attempting to bring patients into his practice consistently by scheduling regular checkups (a technique that doesn’t work well when people are reluctant to spend money), Roemer brought his practice to patients who are begging for help, no questions asked.
Can You Emulate Dr. Roemer?
Does this give you some ideas for your business? Does this spark ideas on how you might turn your business model inside out? Here are some questions you might ask yourself about your business and your customers:
* How can you go to where your customers are instead of trying to bring them to you?
* What are your customers willing to spend money on, no questions asked?
* When are your customers willing to spend money, no questions asked?
* Where are your customers when they might need your services?
* In what circumstances might your customers be more willing to hear what you have to say?
Can you pull a “Dr. Roemer turnaround” on your small business model?