Newcomers to the billing business often think choosing the right software guarantees success. Not so, Coslick says: Equal emphasis should be placed on strong marketing efforts. "Buying software doesn't make you a billing service," he says. "The marketing side is far more important. If you can't market, you don't have a business."
Referrals from existing clients count considerably in signing up new clients, because health-care providers tend to trust one another in making business decisions. Getting your first client when you don't have any referrals can be daunting.
Mikkelson jumped this hurdle by marketing her services door-to-door in medical buildings. "Getting your first client is the most difficult step," she says. "You're asking someone to turn over the collection of the income that supports their office and their family to you, and they don't know you. You don't have to be brash or a stereotypical salesperson; you just have to feel confident in your ability and let that confidence show."
Bonnie Nentl landed her first account in just two weeks by consistently visiting five doctors' offices every day. After a marketing hiatus during which she set up her new office and trained her employees, she has resumed this strategy. "Once you make yourself do it, it's not as hard as you may think," she says.
O'Kelly, who has tried a variety of marketing strategies, has found the most successful ones are following through on referrals and taking quick action in contacting brand-new medical providers. "I joined the Chamber of Commerce, which prints a new members list [regularly]," he explains. "It showed one [durable medical equipment] company that had opened its doors only about a month before I saw the listing. I went over there and got the account."
Medical billing is an attractive opportunity for entrepreneurs who are willing to take the time to acquire some technical know-how and market persistently. "Be serious about your business, be tenacious in your quest for clients and have confidence in your abilities," says Mikkelson. If you've got those qualities, this business just may fit the bill.