Claim your desired market share and increased referrals by building your ideal referral network
ONE OF THE KEY SUCCESS MARKERS for any practice is the number of referrals obtained from patients. Referrals are the hallmark of every successful practice because a referral network provides testimonials from happy patients.
Patients referring you to their friends, colleagues and peers is the ultimate sign of trust and respect; the biggest compliment that any one patient can provide to a practice is a referral.
Patient loyalty and growth
Referrals are linked to patient loyalty. And patients are inextricably linked to practice value. As loyalty grows among your patient base, so does your referral network. Referrals assist with numerous economic conditions at practices.
First, revenues and market share always grow when great patients are continually swept into existing practices. This helps repeat sales and increases the number of referrals a practice obtains.
Second, it has been well-researched that continuous referrals and patient influences positively affect marketing expenses. As enamored and referred patients increase, marketing costs decrease. And finally, patient-to-patient influences help with employee morale and job satisfaction. As practices continue to create patient culture, staff feels better about servicing them.
Nothing is more influential
Many practices dismiss referrals and building a referral network. Because chiropractors are so busy, they often forget to ask for them. However, referrals decrease marketing costs while increasing lead generation possibilities. It is easy to obtain names of individuals who might need your value based upon the admiration of current patients.
Current patients understand value. They see how your practice is able to meet objectives and align with their values. Patients are able to measure the return on investment from having done business with you. While marketing propaganda is typically useful in producing case studies and analysis, nothing is more influential than a current or former patient who speaks highly of your products and services.
Dispelling the myths of referrals
Many chiropractors believe that they do not have enough time to obtain referrals. This could not be further from the truth.
If patients are happy doing business with you, they are more apt to give you a referral. All you must do is ask.
There are those who believe that, if you do a good job, a patient is more than likely to provide you with referrals. This is not so. If you want a referral, you need to ask. Never make an assumption in practice for which you truly do not know the answer. The only way for a patient to provide you with a referral is for them to see the value and for you to ask for it.
Many individuals believe that getting referrals is easy. This also is false. Referrals are obtained only when a present or former patient truly understands the value that you provide and promotes that to others. Referrals are not an easy practice; they are merely a gateway to newer opportunities.
Using referrals circumvents your need to spend obscene amounts of money on marketing and advertising to obtain leads. There are some individuals who believe that, in order to obtain many referrals, they need to spend all of their time generating them. There are many ways to increase the number of referrals obtained without increasing labor.
Referral network: creating lead generation
There are two methodologies for developing referrals:
- asking current patients, and;
- networking to achieve a larger patient base.
Every chiropractor must spend time acquiring leads through networking. Networking is simply another marketing technique that assists you with the acquisition of new individuals. It is less costly, less labor-intensive and easier to obtain from those who know the value you provide.
However, networking is not to be taken lightly; it is a proactive activity. For example, I am almost certain that you have attended a recent networking activity. Picture this: 40-50 people in a very large hotel meeting room or other facility. As you look through the crowd, you see microcosms of groups of 3-6 people. As you scan the room, you see 4-10 individuals either sitting alone at a table or against the wall with their drink. The latter are known as wallflowers. The latter are those who constantly react. The latter are those that subsist in their offices, begging for business. These individuals will never get referrals by sitting with themselves. That is why I suggest that networking is proactive.
Networking requires individuals to remove themselves from their comfort zone and visit community and regional events to meet those that require the value your practice provides. The more people you meet, the more possibilities you have to extend your circle of influence. I recently read “What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis. Google created community with its search engine prowess. We see much of this with the proliferation of social media. As more people get connected on the internet, there are more opportunities to create community. Networking is all about creating community. The more individuals you meet, the larger your community, the larger your circle of influence and the greater possibilities of getting referrals.
Find your local networks
A typical concern for you might be where to find the best places to network. I often suggest looking first within your local community. Some of the best places are chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, civic practices, fraternal organizations and houses of worship. There are many different functions one might attend so that those in the immediate community can understand the value you provide.
In addition to those in your immediate location are regional association meetings. Today, the best place to seek out these practices would be the internet. Conduct a quick search using keywords for your industry, your competition or even your company. You might also ask your patients and peer group for their suggestions.
Networking and referral building are key components of your practice. However, much like there are wallflowers, there are professional networkers. I suggest attending only 1-2 events per month so that your practice is not seriously affected. Networking is great for education in addition to other benefits. Yet it is time-consuming, and you must be cognizant of both travel and meeting time to leverage the best possibilities for your practice.
Digital marketing networking and referrals
What we know to be true is that COVID-19 altered networking and personal communication. We also know that there are 3.78 billion social media users worldwide in 2021 — a 5% increase from a year ago.
It is also 920 million more than the number of social users in 2017, which represents a whopping 32.2% jump in just five years.1 Social media during the age of COVID not only an alternative but a necessary tool for networking and referral building. Simply put, digital marketing must become part of the chiropractors networking tool chest.
To help you with networking there are a few skills to learn:
- Social media is about being a content management expert. Thought leadership requires you to have a platform and provide advice. As you continue to provide advice such as nutrition, exercise, proper sitting position, etc., individuals become attracting and desire to network.
- Become aware of trends to help grow your content. Social media is about community building. People crave others they look up to and whether you are a contrarian or pragmatic your thoughts provide followers and you develop your knack for trends and awareness.
- Use social channels available to your core demographic. Too many chiropractors forget about their greatest asset — patients. A true focus on their habits and their interests will place you in the right channel at the right time.
- Create consistency and relentlessness. Digital marketing is not a one-and-done approach. It is imperative to create a daily flow of content and practices that keep your personal brand in front of your audience.
There is no doubt that networking and referral network development takes work. However, a push in this direction will provide you with a steady and constant stream of not only potential patients, but a profitable and rewarding practice.
DREW STEVENS is an accomplished speaker, author, advisor, and coach for chiropractors. He is also the author of the best-selling chiropractic practice management book, “Practice Acceleration.” He can be reached at drew-stevens.com. © 2021, Drew Stevens, all rights reserved.