What is referral marketing?
Greetings! I’m Dr. Greg Miller and I would like to talk about referral marketing. There are a lot of questions you may be asking, the first of which is probably “what is referral marketing?” Referral marketing is the method of promoting products or services to new customers through referrals, usually of word of mouth. Such referrals often happen spontaneously, but business can influence this through appropriate strategies. So naturally, what are some of those appropriate strategies? Well, when I did a quick google search there were literally thousands of documents, videos, articles, blogs – just a plethora of different ideas to increase referrals in an office. This shows that referrals are very important to the growth of a practice.
Let patients know who you are
Patients who become referrals key to growing a practice, as the referral patient can show the new patients they refer to who you really are. They know coming in that you are someone that they can trust and helping them determine the cause of their problem. The first obstacle you may be facing when entering the area of referrals is that your patients probably do not know how to refer. Most of the patients we as chiropractors tend to are patients coming from MD’s offices, and MD’s do not teach patients to refer as they often already have a referral service built into their system. I have a friend of mine who is an internist and his responsibility is to see patients annually. If the patient has an issue, he refers them to the appropriate doctor – whether it be a dermatologist, a pediatrist, or oncologist. Well, guess who is often missing in those referrals? Chiropractors. Therefore, it is important to teach our patients how to refer, as we can see that chiropractic can fall through the cracks.
So, the next question should be, “who refers?” Which one of those patients that you have been adjusting for weeks, months, or years will be the one doing referring? You are probably thinking the one who does not have headaches or pains anymore. The truth is, the one that should be referring does not necessarily mean the patient with the most results since being in your practice. Instead, the patients you should be focusing on are ultimately the patients who like you and respect the work that you do. It is not about how great of an adjuster you are or what your results are. It might be a tough pill to swallow, but this is true as we have seen this happen for years on end.
Once you have the patients in mind, you can now cultivate a referral culture in your office. Start with the expectation that every patient refers, and many refer more. If you start your practice day as the goal in mind, I promise you that you will start to see results. It is an expectation you place not only for your patients but for your office, staff, and most certainly yourself.
“How do I do that?” you ask? This is probably a whole other topic, but I would say now to get accustomed to the concept of affirmations. If you do that, you will find out how important it is set expectations for yourself and your practice. Affirmations effect positively how you start your day as well as your staff. Affirmations include making sure your office is a place where patients want to be and morning walkthroughs. Morning walkthroughs can help create a referral culture by checking on the reception area, the staff area, the exam room, etc. Morning walkthroughs are almost ritualistic – how a day start is how a day goes.
It is very important for you to understand this concept as starting the day off right will follow everything else. Your confidence levels and overall office flow and organization is a big factor of whether or not your patients will refer. You should also be having staff meetings every morning. Make it a point in your staff meetings to discuss patients coming in and referrals. It shows that you have expectations for your staff, and thus they have expectations set on the patients to refer.
The Power of a Story
The most important, albeit critical, thing I want you to know when it comes to referrals is to gather testimonials. Your patients need to learn how to share their chiropractic story, and you must teach them how to do so. The next question that might sprout up for you: “How do I do that?” If that is your question, we implore you to contact us as we will be happy to help you how to do that. The next step is internal invitations. A mentor of mine used to ask me: “Dr. Miller, do you know the easiest way of getting referrals into your office? You just need to ask for them.” That may sound simple, but it is true. You have to be present with your patient.
You can’t be thinking about the bills on your desk, the next patient, or talking about superfluous things other than the task at hand. I can’t stress this enough: you must be listening to your patient, because chances are they are giving you opportunities for new referrals. What about a patient appreciation day? This is an important tool that we use to bring in referred new patients to your office. If you would like to know more about that, again, feel free to contact us as we are more than happy to help you.
The Value of Invitation
The last thing I wanted to share with you is to create a warm and inviting office for your new patients. You want the office to appear expensive, as if the patient will ask “will this hurt?” Believe it or not, you want that to be the case. You want to make sure that everything in your office has the appearance of value, success, and encouragement to refer. Certainly having an office with those things in place will create referrals. Your patients expect and demand value, even if they don’t outright say it. As I close, please understand that a healthy office with these positive systems in place should expect 3% or more of last month’s patient visits to be referred into the office next month.
For example, if last month you had 500 patients, the next month should see 15 new patients for your practice. At minimum, we should be talking around $2,500 for each care plan. If we see 90% of those 15 patients to be repeat patients, that is 13 new patients and about $32,000 worth of care. Now, imagine those 13 new patients referring to new patients and the profitability that comes from that. That is the power of referrals when you do it right way.