Imagine a time when therapists didn’t weren’t concerned about referrals.
There was a time not too long ago when all a therapist had to do was work hard at getting people better, develop relationships with a few referral sources and you’d be good to go.
Largely due to the explosions of provider networks every therapist is now an active participant in the creation of new referrals–whether we like it or not.
If you hear yourself saying, “I believe that you get referrals by doing great work not by asking for them” then I want to challenge your mindset for your own good. Good physical therapy is just the admission price. An extraordinary patient experience is what earns us referrals and grows our practices.
It stands to reason that any patient who experiences an extraordinary outcome and level of service is far more likely to become a part of your referral network.
Remarkable therapists expect to receive referrals from every patient as a natural course of providing care. If fact, expert clinicians are convinced something went wrong when a patient doesn’t refer friends and family.
How about you, do you expect referrals from your patients?
If you truly believe you provide world-class, cost-effective solutions then you should expect referrals from the people you serve. In reality, you’re doing your patients a disservice by not making it easy for them to introduce their loved ones to you.
Despite what you might read in those pesky marketing emails there are no real secrets to getting referrals. The key to generating referrals is setting up your practice to market itself. A self-referring practice provides patients a way to refer others who will,- in turn generate even more referrals.
I normally get some resistance when I approach this idea of expecting referrals from patients. I’m going to push back a little here and provide practical steps to help you naturally get more referrals.
3 Reasons you should expect referrals from your patients
Reason #1: Human beings are hard-wired to make referrals.
Most people like doing good and being acknowledged for it. When people are recognized as a source of good information they receive pleasurable feelings.
Patients enjoy doing good by making helpful recommendations to others. We all do. Think about how good you felt the last time you referred a patient to another provider or product that was beneficial.
When patients experience a deeply satisfying experience they naturally want to connect others with the same experience. The tremendous growth of social media is due to the fact that people instinctively love to connect and share experiences. All you need to do is provide them a way and ask them to do it.
Choose one social media channel, i.e. Facebook or Google and routinely every patient to write a review for you. Create a simple way that’s easy for both of you.
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Reason #2: Nobody talks about boring therapy
Seth Godin, Purple Cow author says
‘If the marketplace isn’t talking about you then there’s a reason. The reason is that you’re probably boring.’
In order for people to spread the word about you in a remarkable way, you have to be remarkable. You can’t offer run of the mill style of therapy and expect to create buzz about you.
Creating a buzz-worthy practice requires that we are always striving to create a profoundly remarkable patient experience. We really don’t have a choice. If we aren’t getting better were getting behind.
When we have the right mindset our clinical knowledge and skill will get better. Our staff gets better, our delivery and our follow-up will get better.
Most importantly, you and I get better as a person.
First, build a remarkable practice that compels people to refer to you. Discover or create that remarkable thing about you that gets people talking.
Find a way to clearly differentiate yourself from your competitors and build upon it.
Take a moment to reflect on your strengths, expertise, and experience. Write down one topic people are always coming to you for. Concentrate on this topic and build it into a buzz-worthy service.
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Reason #3: Self-Referrals Gets You Past Gatekeepers
Hopefully, you’re starting to see the value of remarkable care that creates word of mouth referrals. If you’re not yet convinced let me share another advantage you can have in the competitive referral game.
Many therapists are fighting just to get a seat at the table when it comes to influencing traditional gatekeepers. Physicians channel patients to network providers or to therapists they employ.
Exceptional patient experiences allow you to work around gatekeepers via self-referrals. Few gatekeepers will oppose patients going to the provider of their choice.
Delivering world class care is not easy to do but it’s easier than begging gatekeepers for a few scraps from the table and much more fulfilling.
My advice to you is to give yourself wholeheartedly to developing a customer focused referral system. You’ll never go wrong by emphasizing exceptional care and creating ways for your patients to refer to you.
Brainstorm with a colleague on how to exceed patient expectation and provide a means for them to talk about it.
What Are Your Expectations?
We cannot expect referrals from your patients if we don’t have high expectations of ourselves. As more therapists develop referral expectation mindsets we will normalize the practice among our profession similiar to accountants or attorneys.
Our patients benefit when we provide ever increasing exceptional care that’s worthy of sharing. Our profession benefits when we share ethical self-referral best practices. And each one of us benefits when we up our game and create pathways for patients who desperately need our care to connect with us.
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