A successful practice will almost always generate more leads from word-of-mouth, or patient referrals, than any other source. There are a few outliers I can think of, such as a practice that spends a huge chunk of their marketing budget on advertising, but the vast majority of practices rely on – and need – patient referrals. In this article, we’ll dive into how to generate more of them.
The first step in generating more patient referrals is, obviously, to do good work. This is crucial in keeping your patients happy. Good communication and a friendly environment also play a role in the patient experience.
Ok, so you’re doing great work. What else can be done? Here are a few ideas…
Offer Incentives: *updated 3/3/2018 – Your practice should be aware of any fee-splitting laws in your state. Fee-splitting is when a 3rd party benefits financially from a provider by referring a new patient. It’s the same law you need to be aware of if you ever intend on running any kind of Groupon-like offers. In some states, a gift card to the referring patient is acceptable. ou’ll want to speak with your attorney to clarify.
Many practices we work utilize discounts off of products or services if you refer a friend. While many practices are reluctant to offer discounts, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this strategy. Just make sure the incentive is strong and that you communicate it well with your patients. This means alerting them in person at the end of their visit, as well as emailing them the details. One additional tip here is to make these incentives available only for a limited time, to encourage action.
Charity contribution for referring: This is a unique idea that a few practices I’ve worked with have tried. For example, refer a patient and we’ll donate $100 to the local Boys & Girls Club. The approach is similar to the aforementioned incentive, except this obviously benefits the charity and not the patient, so you’re enticing their heart and not their wallet! A big part of how successful this strategy is depends on how appealing the charity is. Focus on local causes that impact your community, and choose a charity that you contribute to regularly.
Customer appreciation events: Running events is a great way to mingle with patients. Your events should include free food & beverages (wine), along with door prizes, discounted treatments, and other giveaways. To get more people in the door, incentivize patients to bring a friend to receive a free product or treatment. This strategy works similarly to the general incentive, but it event-based, and you could even combine the charity angle into the event. You’ll want to get the word out in many of the same ways, such as in-person and via email, but consider using EventBrite to track RSVPs. You may even want to boost a post to your Facebook Fans to get the word out.
I’ve seen aesthetic practices achieve success without implementing any of the three approaches above; they simply ASK patients for referrals at the right time. No incentives, no charitable contributions, and no events necessary! The key is your timing and approach. While you want to ask patients when they’re at their happiest, set the expectation from the beginning that you plan on blowing them away with your service and that you’ll be asking for referrals later on.
For any of the above strategies, let patients know how you’d like to receive the referrals. For events, this simply means them bringing a friend, but the other strategies should be very clear for patients. One easy solution here is to have a basic form on your website.
*Keep in mind that the focus here is on referrals, not reviews. There are many automated review-generating software solutions out there, such as Magic Rating. These serve a distinct purpose, which is review generation, but asking for patient referrals AND reviews at the same time, or using the same tactic, muddies the message. It’s like having two competing calls to action on your website. That often leads to paralysis of analysis, or, no action at all.
Above all, express gratitude to each and every patient for their business. You may want to consider writing hand-written thank you notes. This adds a nice personal touch that patients really appreciate.
If you’d like to learn more about generating more patient referrals or new patient leads then drop us a note here or call 877-673-7096 x2.