In my nearly 23 years of delivering practice management training and consulting, I’ve found that of all of the marketing techniques available, properly asking for referrals is easily one of the most useful marketing and promotional ideas for your practice. There are several reasons for this:
- It is the least expensive. You don’t have to create and buy ads, make newsletters, send mailings, etc.
- It is something that you can directly affect on an ongoing daily basis and see and monitor the results without much time lapse.
- It is something that you can train all of your staff to do. You can create reward systems to enhance the staff to do more of it.
- You can, more than any other way, attract the type of patient/client that you want. If you analyze the patients/clients in your practice, you can quickly isolate those who are the most cooperative, financially secure and the most fun to have around. These people will, by referral, bring in similar types of new patients.
The whole trick to getting referrals is nothing more complicated than ASK FOR THEM. This can and should be done as a coordinated team effort by all staff. There are many successful actions that you can implement in order to accomplish this.
To get referrals, first, determine which patient/client will be approached. A quick staff meeting at the start of the day can identify patients/clients who’ve had great results and are very happy with their service. Those satisfied people are the ones that you would want to approach. Next, determine who will talk with one of these people. It may likely be the receptionist who will be talking with the person after their appointment. Lastly, work out a simple script that can be used and have a card ready to give out to the person that they can then give to their referral.
Other Marketing Ideas
The following is a list of other successful actions that you can do to promote your practice and get new patients. They are all very inexpensive and easy to do:
- Ask for referrals!
- Ask for referrals!
- Ask for referrals! (ok, point made).
- Send patients birthday cards.
- Send out a quarterly newsletter that educates patients.
- Put up a new patients/clients welcome board in the reception room.
- Put up a “Thank you for referring” board in reception listing out the patients/clients who referred new patients to the practice.
- Send thank you letters to every patient/client who referred anyone into the practice.
- Reward referring patients/clients by sending them to dinner, the movies, etc.
- Provide a staff reward for generating referrals.
- The doctor and staff should hand out business cards anywhere and everywhere that is appropriate.
- Post your practice mission statement in your reception room.
- Make post-care calls to patients/clients to ensure that they are doing well. This shows you really care.
- Give tours of the office to school children.
- Offer family discounts for cash patients.
- Put up educational posters in all treatment rooms or areas to educate patients about the health care you deliver.
- Have TV monitors with educational videos that are on a continuous playback loop showing in reception and/or treatment rooms.
- Have a patient/client appreciation month.
- Participate in health fairs.
- Give brisk service with lots of care and affinity.
- Have all staff who are on the phone always “smile on the phone.”
- Stay in good communication with any patient or client who is waiting – never let them just sit in silence for any long period.
- Never make patients/clients wait. Deliver on time.
- Call your patients/clients by name.
- Develop a logo and place it in every possible place you can – letterhead, newsletter, business cards, posters, etc.
- Call patients/clients 2 weeks and then 2 days prior to recall appointments.
- Confirm appointments the day before.
- Have simple informational pamphlets. Create your own if you have to.
- Make follow-up calls after sending a postcard mailer.
- Use over oversized or odd-sized business cards. People will notice and remember them more than a normal card.
- Take photos of happy patients and clients and place them on the bulletin board.
- Have the doctor write a column for a local newspaper or other publication addressing issues within your profession.
- Share successful results of patient delivery with your staff.
- Once per year, offer 10% off for payment in full on all old accounts receivables.
All of the above actions will cost you very little up front and will generate the highest quality patients for your practice. Put these into place and you will see your new patient numbers not only increase, but the quality of your patient base will increase.