Marketing is key to the growth of any business, and healthcare practices are no exception. That´s why it is as important to maintain a healthy relationship with your current patients as to expand your practice and attract new patients.
Among the many marketing techniques that you use can there, customer referrals really take the cake as a cost-effective way to gain new business and retain existing customers.
But how do you make them work for your business? Listed below are 7 steps to getting more and better referrals that will help you attract new patients.
Establish your relationships first
This is not an overnight process, but it is critical since a lot of your current patients will not be willing to provide referrals until and unless they know you well and put great trust in you.
You will want to handle each patient with utmost care and treat them as if your next referral depended on them. With every visit, you are actually establishing a foundation of trust that will ultimately earn you a valuable referral.
Avoid asking clients to refer you to others without giving them some sort of backup. It can be just as simple as your business card, a link to your webpage, or even a leaflet.
Remember to always include these information in any publicity you make of your nutrition practice, whether online or in print. It is essential to always provide your basic data such as email and phone so people can always have a way to get in touch with you.
It is also important to keep your social networks, website and blog updated, as people who are indicated by your patients may want to research more about you and your practice in these channels. You can take a look at the tips we've already given about blog, Facebook and Instagram.
Make a referral-generation plan
Keep in mind that referrals are not automatic. Although some “just happen”, a majority of them occur because you do something to trigger them.
A lot of business owners assume that if their product or service is topnotch or competitively priced, then it will automatically generate referrals. That is not always the case. You have to learn to ask, and ensure your assistant or any other employee(s) is on board too.
A lot of your current patients will be more than willing to recommend you to others. Some even appreciate the chance to tell family, friends, and associates about something good they have discovered.
Incentives are an excellent way to ensure you get referred to a wider audience. However, the kind of incentive you offer must complement your business.
When it comes to nutrition practice, you could offer one free consultation, a discount on partner stores or a gift item (could be as simple as a mug to something more luxurious such as a fitness-tracking watch, etc).
The kind of incentive you offer will come to your financial capability, so make sure you are not spending way more than what you expect to earn from the new patients.
Target your most influential patients
If you have a few patients who are influential (whether financially or politically), it is a great idea to seek referrals from them. These people may not be your best clients, but they are the people whose word and opinions would be the most effective as compared to others in your target audience.
Utilise every chance you get
Whenever a patient compliments your service, respond with a thank you and immediately follow-up by a referral request. Say something like “I am glad you are happy with my work. Do you know someone else who can also benefit from my services?”
Don’t hesitate to ask every patient for referrals. You do not need to restrict your requests to patients only; you can also ask your assistant, associates, and fellow healthcare professionals.
Target similar and related businesses
The healthcare industry is one of the most proficient at generating referrals between complementary disciplines - physical therapists, health specialists, medical equipment sellers, etc.
This means you as a dietitian can take great advantage by considering the same strategy for yourself. Get in touch with businesses that are relevant to your profession and request for referrals.
The secret to using referrals in order to attract new patients is to do it every chance you get, without being pushy and obnoxious. In addition to that, you need to ensure that your service is up to par, and your reputation is established.
Over time, you will have a well-established name in your area and you won't have to worry so much about asking for referrals since it will be done organically.