One of my last blogs shared ideas on how to create a BUZZ about your business. I have found that word of mouth marketing is the most effective way to gain new patients. I recently did some research in my practice and was surprised to discover that referrals from my patients accounted for almost 70% of our new business. When I dug a little further, I learned that the new business generated by patient referrals cost only 10% of what traditional marketing costs per new patient. When patients are satisfied, they will be happy to encourage others to come to you for their hearing healthcare.
It’s also been my experience that if you want a Patient Referral Program to be successful, it has to be a very organized and intentional program. It’s not enough to tell your staff to “ask for referrals.” That’s like commenting to a friend that you should get together sometime but sometime never comes. A successful program has very specific goals and outcomes that you track regularly to be successful. For instance, in my practice, we have determined exactly how many appointments from patient referrals that we need every week to reach our goal.
We have printed cards with contact information of the practice and we ask patients to distribute them. These cards have a specific offer that has to be redeemed within no more than 30 days. We have found that having a time sensitive offer on the card gets the most positive results. The best time to hand out these cards is when a patient expresses their satisfaction with services provided. I would suggest that the cards are an odd size – slightly larger than a business card – so the patient can’t just stick them away in their pocket or wallet and forget them. Each staff member is asked to put five referral cards in their pocket every morning with an expiration date one month out. Patients are usually happy to share the cards with others but they aren’t likely to tell others unless you specifically ask them to. We also mention the referral program in all of our social media posts, and once a quarter we send a mailing to our patients asking them to “share the joys of better hearing” by handing out the referral cards that are included with the mailing.
Another way to spread the word about patient referrals is to have a button on your website encouraging visitors to refer a friend.
Finally, don’t forget to follow up and let your patients know how much you truly appreciate their referrals. Send hand-written notes, make personal calls and give special gifts to patients who refer frequently.
Happy to share all the components of my Patient Referral Program. Join my Sapphire Society and I will send you all the materials that we use. Simply replace my name and practice information with yours and you will have a program that is “ready to go.” And… please follow me on Facebook @DrGyl.com for more ideas to grow your business.