We talked about the best sources for referrals in Part 1 of this blog series. Today, we are going to address how to create a ‘system’ that makes getting new referrals simple and automatic.
I’m a numbers girl and I look at referral statistics for our practice every single month. When I summarized them for the end of last year, I found that about 60% of our new patients came from various direct referral sources such as our patients and physicians. The other 40% came mainly from organic reach from our content on the internet. Coincidentally, with the correct strategies, all of this can and was done without paid marketing or advertisements.
To create a successful referral program, there are a number of considerations. Here are three important steps:
1. I recommend you take a close look at you and your team’s mindset surrounding referrals. So often, especially in healthcare, you may feel as if you are here to provide a service so it doesn’t feel quite right to ask for a referral. Honestly, it seems a bit counter-intuitive. In fact, the thought of asking for referrals might be something you’re just not comfortable doing. To overcome this issue, it helps to embrace the fact that asking enables you to have a greater impact by helping more people who really need your services and products. It helps fulfill your mission!
You want your happy clients to refer other people who would benefit as they have to you and your practice. They are thrilled their health has improved, and in all likelihood (with two-thirds of the American population overweight) they know other people who would benefit from your services as well. You want to embrace the fact that you’re doing both your practice and more people a favor by asking for referrals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the invitation has to come from the physician. Most often, it comes from your team who regularly interacts with them and hears them talking about the impact successful weight loss has had on their life.
2. You will see better results if you establish a system for obtaining your referrals. You know I’m a systems girl. I even created an online program for the 7 systems necessary for your practice (and Referral Program is one of them). Systems create predictability and enjoyment in your practice, in your life, in your health – just about everything. This is no different – your referral system should generate referrals naturally.
For patient referrals, your system should revolve around the happiest points in your patient’s weight loss journey. This could be when they reach a certain number of pounds lost or a percentage of weight loss or a certain number of months after surgery, when you know that they’re feeling particularly happy. In my experience, for surgery patients, this most commonly occurs at 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and a year after surgery. It is important to have a system in place where you have somebody in your practice you’ve identified talk to those patients, specifically the ones that would be great referral sources. You can also create business cards that your team can hand out to people that links to your google online review url. There’s nothing wrong with this and in fact, most patients consider it a compliment!
You can even include this with every e-mail correspondence. I recommend part of your signature include something such as ‘Do you know someone who might benefit from the same services?’ or ‘You’re enjoying your success? Let’s share it with others!’ Create an easy way for them to click one button and be able to send you that referral very simply. You also want to make sure that one of your team members is overseeing the overall process for accountability and facilitating new ideas or necessary changes to the process. They can also track overall success and attainment of referral goals.
For referring physicians, it is important to create a variety of ways for them to easily be able to refer somebody into your practice. As an example, for referring physicians, some prefer just a quick fax referral that their referral specialist can fill out and fax over, you could also provide them with a ‘tear off pad’ that has information they give to the patient. You can also request a drop-down box in Epic or whatever software they use that can generate a referral to you electronically.
3. Set yourself up for what I call a ‘double win’. That is, not only asking for a referral from a happy patient but also obtaining a testimonial. This could be in the form of a video or written testimonial. We like to have a link immediately to our Google page and into our Facebook where they can leave their feedback. We currently send them a secure text with a link that enables them to submit this immediately. Just be sure to obtain their written permission and include before and after photos as well. If you have somebody who’s very excited right there in your office, obtain your testimonial on the spot. For example, we recently had a weight loss surgery patient come in for a post-op visit. She didn’t believe she had lost that much weight but that morning, she decided to put on an old pair of size 16 pants (she began at size 22) and discovered that they ‘fit like a glove!’ She was thrilled! She was dancing in our office, showing how she felt. She was vibrant & happy and that’s the moment you want to capture if possible. She was thrilled to have that moment captured and shared on our social media. And we were so proud of her! As you know, it’s moments like these that keep us smiling and doing what we do!
Be sure to involve and educate your team and make them a part of the process. Even though one person may oversee your referral program and obtain the majority of testimonials, everyone needs be a part of this planned, yet spontaneous process.
Finally, don’t keep your referral program a secret. You can have signs in lobby, exam rooms and even in the bathrooms. Create fliers/posters with your testimonial information. It is so motivating and fun. I create these posters, fliers and programs with clients all the time. Before you know it, the program takes on a life of its own and you have patients asking – How can I get on your wall as a success story too?”
Don’t forget to set goals for how many referrals and testimonials you want to obtain each month. Post them regularly on your social media channels and promote from within. It’s a great way to gain new patients and be able to greater impact the health of your community.
To accompany this blog, I’m offering a free downloadable guide ‘How to 10x the Number of Referrals for Your Weight Loss Practice’ that you can access here: https://weightlosspracticebuilder.com/Free
You can use this in your practice and with your team. Reach out to me if I can be of assistance at Karol@WeightLossPracticeBuilder.com . If you’re not a member of Bariatric Business Boss, check it out at www.BariatricBusinessBoss.com . Membership is a simple, easy, low-cost way we can work one-on-one together to grow your practice and tackle the projects you have been putting off for far too long.