Has anyone had any success with getting into doctors offices to talk about their 401K/Simple business?
I've found that most doctors are sitting by the phone, waiting for me to call.
Me too. That's been my experience.
Does anyone have any helpful advice?
I have not personally. But I know of a person in my firm that has had great success going and offering to do 401K education during their lunch hours with some success. He brings lunch (just like the drug reps) and spends 20 minutes going over topics on their 401K and other investment topics. Honestly, I don't know much more specifics. I met him at a training thing in St. Louis.
I assume it requries an area that is not over-worked by advisors. It would probably work well in my area, I just don't know that I want to head down that path. It seems to demand a lot of time and energy to get the ball rolling. But if you want doctors to become your niche, it might be the way to get staretd.
I was pharma sales for about seven years. The real key is getting to the doctors. Many doctors would really be open to the idea of giving their staff education at lunch. The problem is that most doctors really have no idea what goes on with the gatekeepers up front.
As an example, I had an office once where all the reps thought this doctor had an extremely restrictive policy for seeing reps. I finally got to know the doctor through an outside avenue (a golf tournament). When I asked him why his policy was so restrictive, he had no idea even what his policy was. He was shocked when I told him.
Now this isn't always the case. But many times they leave office procedure up someone else. In fact, it always amazed me how little doctors knew about their own practices sometimes.
Many of the doctors were brought into an existing practice, and they have neither the time, nor the interest, in learning how their office operates. The office manager runs the show (and possibly the "lead" doctor or the tax-matters partner if the doctors are in partnership). At least this is how it is at the two practices I have retirement plans at. The rest of the doctors are clueless.
I have great access to doctors when I schedule an appointment. I talk about all sorts of stuff, the market, economy, how their retirement plans are set up, what their investing interests are, how long they've had their advisor relationship...you know, normal stuff you can ask in a conversation.
On the other hand, I have a client that is a doctor. They guy won't return my calls (some people are inherently bad at that) and is impossible to get ahold of. So if you manage to get ahold of him, let me know...I'd be impressed.
I would call and say it's about the September 5th deadline (the 2008 cut-off date for opening a Safe Harbor 401(k) plan) that would let the doctor shelter thousands of dollars more than a SEP or SIMPLE plan. If you can't get the doctor, discuss it with the office manager and offer to personally deliver information to their office. I've found by illustrating value to the office manager your communications have a better chance of reaching the usually "too busy" doctor.
One more thing.
I would say that if there ever was a good time to call on doctors offices, it will be starting January of 2009. Pharmaceutical companies self govern themselves under what is called the Pharma Guidelines. It is a voluntary code of Ethics that all of the big companies follow. It sets a level playing field by having all companies agree to these standards.
Because of the slumping economy, the Pharmaceutical companies have decided to cut out a lot of their marketing spending starting in January. Under the Pharma Guidelines, much of the "wining and dining" is going to be gone. These staffs and doctors have come to expect getting these meals on a consistent basis. I think it would be a great time to step in as a Financial Advisor.
I think it would be best to wait until January though as most Pharma reps have HUGE budgets through 2008 to try and beat the January cut off. It really will be tough to get open slots through the end of this year at many offices due to drug reps bombarding these offices to get rid of their budget.
Thank you for your responses. That is great advice about the 401K plan deadline and good info about the 2009 pharma budgets.
Snaggletooth, I have found the same thing with doctors -- when I am in front of them they seem to be receptive and engaging, but the follow through is most difficult because they don't return phone calls often.
I appreciate the suggestions!