Friday, February 5, 2010

Do you ask patients to refer you to others?

Have you ever asked your patients to refer you to their friends and family? I am not talking about a small, passive sign in the waiting room that says your practice appreciates referrals. I mean, face-to-face suggesting your patient refer you to others.

For an upcoming story for the journal, I am looking into some guerrilla marketing tactics practices can use to bring more patients in the door. Stewart Gandolf, a founding partner of Healthcare Success Strategies, offered perhaps the simplest, cheapest way to market yourself - ask for referrals - yet physicians don't do it.
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As a patient, it wouldn't necessarily cross my mind to refer my physician (although, I have referred my primary-care doc to a few friends who recently moved to town or were searching for a new doc). We usually assume the docs are too busy and don't want more patients.

But if a physician says to me (ideally after I thank her and tell her how much I appreciate her), "Sara, you know, I'd like to ask you a favor. If you like what we have done for you today, I'd like to help someone else in the same way." Or something along those lines where she basically plants the seed in my head - with a tactful and rehearsed line - to refer her.

Perhaps physicians don't want to do it because they feel like they will come across as needy or sleazy, Gandolf says. Hence the need for a tactful script. And it seems like a no-brainer way to get more patients.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Gandolf is right on the mark. Asking for referrals IS a excellent, effective, and FREE way to build your practice and generate word-of-mouth advertising. A script can be helpful, but I'd go one step further and suggest that you make it easy on your patients to suggest your practice to their contacts. For example, at Rx MD Marketing Solutions, we suggest our clients institute a "Care to Share" program, where current patients are provided with gift certificate like cards at checkout that they can GIVE to the their friends and family, making it even easier to spread the word about your practice. This also alleviates any concern surrounding the "sleaze factor" in asking for a referral outright. Also, if done correctly, you can now track which patients are providing referrals so that you can follow up with a personal thank you note to them.