Your allied health practice competitors
I always hear a lot of allied health practice owners do two things – opposite things! People seem to either fret about competitors or they are oblivious to any competitors even existing (of course, it is easier to pretend they are not there!). In private practice, you cannot avoid competitors. Have you really thought about your competitors? Here are a couple of tips…
There are two main types of competitors that we can come across.
Direct competitors are those that offer the same product or service as you to the same market (e.g. to the same people that you provide services for). So, this could be another allied health practice similar to yours (for example, if you run a paediatric psychology practice, there may also be another psychology service in your area that also delivers services for children).
Then, we have in-direct competitors who offer an alternative to you (so not quite the same as you, but similar in ways), or a ‘substitute’ service or product to what you offer. For example, if you provide an orthosis/splint for a client, the local chemist may also stock an off the shelf version. Or an online mental health program that people can access, might be a form of indirect competition for an occupational therapist offering face to face mental health intervention.
When thinking about your competitors, it is a good idea to make a table of who they are, both the direct ones and the indirect ones. In the table, it is wise to include the following:
• Their name
• Where they are located
• What services/products they offer
• If they would be classified as direct or indirect competitors
• What ‘value’ they offer to the market (what are the features that make their clients feel welcome, and continue to return again)
• What percentage of the market you think they might have come through their doors (i.e. do they see more clients in your target audience than you do?)
• What types of marketing they are doing
• Prices of their services and products
• What makes your service/product unique in comparison (what do you offer that differentiates your from your competitors that you can use in your marketing?)
When I first started in private practice many years ago, I thought ‘how can I find all that out – I don’t know what my competitors are doing, I don’t work there!’ – but over the years, you learn ways to collect the above information.
Looking at websites, Facebook pages, talking to people and going straight to the source are ways you can use to start with. Having competitors does not necessarily mean warfare! I have lots of competitors, and I get on really well with so many of them, that in some ways we often work in collaboration and can bounce off one another for different things.