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Creating Your Well-Oiled (yet personable) Machine for More Referrals

Dec 20, 2022

Systems are what makes your life and your business predictable.  Sound boring?  On the contrary.  Predictable follow-through from your team, predictable results for your patients, and predictable profit for your practice makes your life more exciting.  For you, it gives you time to focus on the important things in life.  For your business, systems allow you to concentrate on growth strategies rather than putting out fires all day long. Of course, your systems need to be tweaked along the way, but that is much easier (and enjoyable) to do than starting from scratch all the time.

So, what does it take to create a system that will 10x the number of referrals for your practice?  No matter which referral source you want to grow, the principles are essentially the same.

  1. You and your team may need to adjust your mindset:  It can be uncomfortable to ask someone for a referral.  Especially in the medical field.  You will need to adjust to the mindset that if your patient is happy, they likely want to help others feel happy as well. Your raving fans (patients, physicians, and other referral sources) become your ambassadors.  With each request, this becomes easier, especially when guided by your team.
  2. Identify your ideal referral sources:  For your patients, in addition to having ‘referral’ prompts such as literature around your office about how to refer friends/family and testimonials on your walls, you will want to identify what patients you (your team) wish to approach for a referral.  I have found that the best time to ask for a referral is when they are the happiest.  For surgery patients, this is usually at 6 months, 9 months or 1 year.  For medical patients, it is when they are ecstatic about their results and telling your all about the improvements in their life.  For referring physicians/groups, select those that want/need their patients to lose weight such as prior to a surgery to improve safety and enhance the patient’s outcome.  This tends to be plastic surgeons and orthopedic surgeons as well as bariatric surgeons if they do not have an established medical weight loss program. For local groups/businesses, select ones that are looking for educational offerings/programs and have the demographic you desire to serve.  Some examples are professional women’s groups and realty groups.  For online reviews, make sure your google listing is up-to-date and regularly post testimonials on your website, all social media channels and google listing and then go to the next step – asking for the referral.
  3. Establish an EASY system for referrals to take place:  You will want to streamline the process to make a referral for all your referral sources.  This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Since some people are more traditional and others more contemporary, we like to provide both written and electronic ways for the referral to be made.  What is simple for THEM is what will get done.  For patients, our entire team is accustomed to asking for the referral when a patient is revealing how great they feel and how the weight loss has impacted their life in a positive way. And as a safeguard, we have it as a part of the patient’s visit when they get to goal or at 6 months and 9 months for surgery patients.  We find that it works well if you securely text the patient a link to your online review source to immediately write their review while they are at your office.  We send 2 links – the first one is to our Google listing and the second one is to Facebook. This is preferable.  However, if someone really wants to hand write their review (extremely rare), we let them do that as well.  For physicians, good old fashioned ‘boots on the ground’ visiting their office is very helpful. We like to map out an efficient route in various geographic areas and one of our team goes there with a cute package of pens, referral pads (that the physician can tear off and give to the patient) as well as fax forms and yummy protein bars from our store.  It is best to talk with the referral coordinator to find out how they prefer to make referrals. You will do yourself a huge favor if you let them know (before they ask) as to what happened with those they refer and their progress if they become a patient of yours. We also offer weight loss quick presentations for the office team (virtually or in person).  Often the office staff end up being some of our best customers as well!  For local groups/businesses, it works best to have one of your team members research possibilities.  Then, personally reach out to them with a ‘one sheet’ outlining possible presentations.  Reach out to me if you need an example.  One contact is never enough…it requires follow-up. However, once you do a great presentation for them, you tend to be asked back again.  For online reviews, keep the links for reviews top of mind in your e-mails, on your social media channels, on your website, and throughout your office.  And be sure to text it to your successful patients as mentioned above.
  4. Set yourself up for The Double Win:  If someone is willing to make a referral or write a review, they are also usually willing to write a testimonial.  We try to get one every week and post a “Transformational Tuesday” testimonial nearly every week on all our social medica channels and Google page via a simple template that represents our brand.  As a bonus, have your team share your online posts on their personal pages as well.  If the patient will allow, tag them too.  If you need a sample testimonial authorization form, reach out to me at [email protected]
  5. Involve and educate your team:  Include your team when creating your referral program/processes.  They will have great ideas and think of things you may have missed.  In addition, it increases their buy-in and understanding of just how important this is for the entire practice.  Have someone oversee the entire process outlined here for continuity.  Educate all your team members regarding the referral processes and include it in your operations manual for review as needed and training of new team members.
  6. Promote your referral program/system:  The way to send you referrals cannot be your best kept secret.  You may even want to create a referral program for your patients with a few bonuses for them.  This does not have to be monetary.  It could be a box of their favorite protein supplement in your store or a photo shoot.  We have a local photographer, and she does these for us quarterly at a very reasonable rate.  This way, we have professional ‘after’ photos and the patient gets updated pictures as well.  Our patients are honored to be asked and gladly participate.  We also use these for inspirational posters on our walls that includes their picture and a quote from them.  Once you know what you want to include, create a simple flier for the office and include it in the e-mails and newsletters you regularly send your patients.
  7. Track your success:  Ask every new patient how they found you.  This is so very important!  Track it in your software system or on an Excel spreadsheet – or manually if you must.  This will help guide your efforts and validate the value of referrals. What you measure matters and the focus generally results in improvements.  Be sure to share the information with your team and tweak the process along the way as necessary. 

Referrals are a great way to grow your practice.  It is also rewarding for everyone involved and can be a lot of fun!  Follow these steps and be sure to let me know your outcomes.  If you have questions, please reach out to me at [email protected]  

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