Filling up your practice with active patients till you reach max capacity is a game most practices are playing. And many then add an associate and keep right on growing the number of patients being serviced. This requires marketing.
What is marketing? It is making yourself and your practice known, available and desirable to potential patients or clients and giving them a reason to choose you over the other options.
There are literally thousands of ways that our 1,500 clients have done marketing and promotion to achieve warp speed in their practices, but most practitioners will tell you that internal marketing by having your own patients refer is still their favourite way of attracting new patients.
Oddly enough, many practitioners have been asked by their patients or clients if there are accepting new patients. These folks are not even aware that you would LOVE them to refer.
Asking for Referrals
So never be shy about asking patients if they would be willing to refer friends, family, neighbors and coworkers to you. Many of them will be tickled pink to have people they know come to see you for your excellent service. Here are a few ways you can ask for a referral; some of them may need a little practising to get comfortable with by working out your own wording.
The straight forward method:
When a patient or client has finished their appointment today and has paid and been rescheduled, the Receptionist can simply ask, “Do you have any friends, family, neighbours or co-workers that you would like to refer (or “who you feel could benefit from our services,” etc.)?” Don’t be shy. Just smile and ask.
A variation on the straight forward method:
Ask the patient or client after they have been serviced today: Is there any way we could have improved our service today? Chances are (hopefully) that you get a response from the person saying, “No, the service was great/excellent.” If so, then you can ask them: “Can you do us a favour? Here are 2 of our business cards – one is for you to keep and one is for you to give to a friend. We’re are always welcoming new patients.”
Keep in mind that enthusiastic patients or clients refer and satisfied ones don’t. When you ask the above question you regenerate their enthusiasm for your practice, and then when you say “Can you do us a favour,” this puts a small obligation on the person for them to refer. It makes it much more likely that they will.
Many practitioners have developed “We Love Patient who Refer” campaigns to raise patient awareness that it is COOL to refer. There are various games and contests for their patients or clients who refer 1 or more new patients to the practice. These include such things as a draw (for an iPad Mini or a free service in the practice, etc.) that they are entered into if, during that month, they referred a new patient who arrived in the practice. Receptionists can promote these.
Thank you card with enclosure
When the patient or client has completed their first appointment (or this is the first time they are being asked), before they leave the practice you can tell the person that you have a quick question for them that you have to enter into the computer: “We love when our patients (or clients) refer their friends and family to us and when they do, we always send an appreciative thank you card to them and enclose either a $5 Tim card or a $5 Starbucks card, so I have put on your chart which one you prefer in case you ever do refer someone to us.”
(Note on this one: One or two professional Colleges frown on having the enclosure with the card so conduct yourself appropriately.)
Being out-going and upfront always causes more success than being shy and holding back and thereby preventing your own growth and ability to service lots of people. If you are not completely fully booked and/or still want to grow some more, the above are easy ways to do inexpensive internal marketing.