Number One Asset for Word of Mouth Referrals


You already know the tremendous impact positive patient relationships have on treatment outcomes. But do you understand those same positive patient relationships are THE most important resource for getting word of mouth referrals?

That’s so important let me repeat it again.

Creating and managing positive patient/provider relationships is your most valuable resource for generating word of mouth referrals.

Quite frankly, in today’s intense competition for quality referrals, your practice’s survival depends on it. If you want to step off the high volume treadmill, you cannot afford to neglect developing and maintaining genuine relationships with loyal clients.

I know you are busy taking care of patients and just getting your notes done each day. I know how difficult it is to block out time from patient care even to send simple thank-you notes, let alone set aside time to develop a marketing strategy.

I’ve got a proposal that’s doable no matter how busy you are. 

How about we set up a system where emails are automatically sent to your patients before, during and after their time with you.

Wouldn’t you be interested in a simple system set on autopilot that sends personalized emails to enhance the client experiences, client retention and word of mouth referrals?

The good news is technology has made this type of gentle marketing possible even if you’re a marketing novice or if you have thousands of patients to keep in touch with.

In the Word of Mouth Referral series, I’m sharing my step-by-step system to increase referrals by sending great emails. My four-step system is explained in a series of blog posts:

     Intro:  Word of Mouth Referrals Vs. Traditional Referrals
     Step 1: Why a CRM is THE Secret Weapon for Getting Referrals.
     Step 2: How To Organize And Segment Your Connection Lists
     Step 3: How To Automatically Send Group Emails
     Step 4: How To Write Great Emails That Get Results
     Round Up Post By Experts in Email Marketing

If you missed the introduction that covered the difference between word of mouth referrals and traditional referrals. I suggest you go back and read it here.

Now let’s jump into the nuts and bolts of managing patient relationships through an understanding what a CRM is and how to use it to get more word of mouth referrals.


Email Marketing Guide
What exactly is a CRM? And, as a healthcare professional, why should you even care?

CRM stands for client relationship management. When it comes to attracting new patients and retaining great relationships with your patients, it’s a tool you can’t live without.

I prefer to use the term client rather than patient when managing the non-clinical aspect of your practice. A client usually refers to long-term, ongoing partnership with a professional.

Healthcare is really behind the times when it comes to recognizing the value of client relationship management. For decades we’ve made the assumption that if we provide “good, evidence-based care” then we’ve fulfilled our responsibility in the patient/provider partnership.

Good ethical care might have been enough in the past but those days are long gone. Getting positive clinical results is what most consumers expect if not demand. Healthcare consumers now expect much more from the entire patient experience.

 As your patients pay more out of pocket for healthcare their expectations have changed dramatically. In this new era of healthcare consumerism, you must look beyond patient care to client relationships in order for your practice to thrive in the years ahead.

Patient Relationship Hotline


Think of a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system as a hotline between you and your patients. A CRM acts as a bridge between the clinical and business sides of your practice. In order to get new referrals, you need to keep existing clients happy while attracting new referrals through them.

With a CRM and an intelligent referral management strategy, you can automate the communication and relationship management process. A CRM will cultivate positive relationships through learning about and address clients’ specific needs. Targeted communication will help prevent client dissatisfaction and revenue loss from patients prematurely dropping out of their plan of care.

The cornerstone to outstanding CRM is remarkable customer experiences. An effective CRM system enables you to build trusted relationships with people to get in the door to ‘try and buy’ quality care from you.

The CRM automatically operates after care to maintain a long-term patient/provider partnership. When you put forth the effort to build client relationships you’re opening lines of two-way communication. Ongoing regular communication keeps you top of mind when patients or their friends need your services. It also provides you a natural way to make them aware of other products or services you offer.

Technology can only expand and remind your clients of the positive experience they’ve had in your clinic. CRM software will automate and streamline the management part of the process so you and your employees can concentrate on what’s really important–positive client experiences.

I agree there is nothing like a face to face conversation or other high touch activities. But there’s a lot you can do to stay top of mind through automated touch points and personal messaging.

Beyond Spreadsheets

 A CRM is essentially a database with contact information recorded in a spreadsheet application like Excel or Google Sheets. A CRM software program is the next step beyond the traditional spreadsheet method of managing interactions with existing clients, prospective clients and key referral sources.

CRMs provide an organized way to capture information and store for future reference. Whenever a client interacts with your practice the information is recorded and pre-written emails are sent to individuals based upon specific responses. Personalized emails are much more effective than the typical broadcast practice newsletter.


Email Marketing Guide

Stages of Practice Growth


The CRM you select to manage client relationships and communication depends on your stage of business growth. In physical therapy, as well as other businesses in health and wellness, there are three stages of practice growth:

1. Start-up– Launching a practice with few or no existing contacts or key referral sources

2. Growth– Growing your client base to sustainable profitability

3. Scale– Scaling your practice to increase impact and profitability

Regardless of practice size, revenue is a factor of the total number of patients treated, multiplied by the amount paid, and multiplied by the average visits per patient.

The two most important factors under your direct control for growing your revenues are:

1. Increasing the number of new referrals
2. Managing patient retention

A vibrant CRM system will include a patient’s entire journey from initial interest, through transformational care, then maintains a positive after care relationship. The outcome of a positive client/provider relationship is a loyal client who will spread the word about your practice.

Which CRM system should you use?

Choosing the ‘right sized’ CRM depends on where your practice is in the normal business lifecycle.  You will eventually create separate lists for specific groups such as potential clients or key influencers. Here are some recommendations based upon the size of your contact list. 

Practice Startup (Less than 500 Emails)
     1. Database Spreadsheet Program– Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets
     2. Word processor to write emails– Microsoft Word or Google Docs
     3. Merge spreadsheet and email– Microsoft Mail Merge or Google Mailmerge App
     4. Send Group Emails–Microsoft Outlook, GMail

Practice Growth (500-1,000 Emails)
     1. CRM that combines database, segmentation, email automation.
     2. Examples: Hubspot, Drip, MailChimp

Practice Scale (1,000 Emails or more)
     1. CRM created for health and wellness professionals
     2. Integrates with EMR and websites
     3. Example: Strive Hub

In the next step I will show you how to organize and segment your list of clients to enter into your CRM. In the meantime I suggest you familiarize yourself with the different technology to determine your comfort level by visiting the links above.


Email Marketing Guide


Tell me more about you and what stage your practice is in. Leave a comment below and let me know what you’ve been up to.


Paul Potter is a physical therapist and mentor who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, who is also a therapist. They have four daughters. For more than 35 years he successfully managed his own private practice. He now shares his knowledge and experience through teaching and mentoring therapists who want to have their own practice. 

He has authored On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice and the Cash Practice From Scratch Course. His website is dedicated to helping therapists achieve professional and financial freedom. Connect with Paul on his website or on LinkedIn paulpotterpt. You can also get more free resources at

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