Using referrals is a great way for health business owners to tap into the network of their clients’ business colleagues, friends and family.
But many entrepreneurs are shy about asking for referrals or simply don’t think of doing so.
That’s a big mistake, because referral marketing is a low-cost (or even no-cost) way to get highly qualified leads.
Here are five steps to getting more clients with referrals this month:
Step One – Know What Type of Referral You Are Looking For
There are different levels of referrals.
On the most basic level, you might ask a current client to give you the name and email address or phone number of someone who might need your help with an injury or health problem.
This is a fairly low-value referral.
On the mid-range level might be a client or contact who discusses your services with the potential referral and can attest that he or she is interested in learning more.
Finally, the highest level and most valuable referral would be a client who actually introduces you to the referral or arranges a meeting between the two (or three) of you.
Depending on your industry, you might seek one or all of these levels.
Step Two – Develop a System
The most important step in the referral process is making sure that asking for referrals isn’t just an afterthought, but something that’s built into your sales cycle.
For example, you may want to ask for a referral when you are discharging the client at the end of their treatment program, or do it later as part of your post-discharge follow-up.
Either way – it must be systematized and not left to chance.
Step Three -Time it Right.
Figure out the optimum time to request a referral and make it part of your sales and customer service process.
It’s important to ask for a referral when the client is feelingpositive about your business.
If you unwittingly ask a frustrated or angry client for a referral, your efforts can backfire—so make sure the time is right.
Step Four – Offer Rewards
Special bonuses and gifts are a great reward for clients who refer their friends and contacts to you.
You could provide a reward simply for giving a referral, such as a free massage voucher or make it contingent on the referral actually making an appointment with you (eg: a free month’s worth of access to a local gym if they refer someone who becomes a client of your practice).
Step Five – Follow Up in a Timely Fashion
The biggest mistake small business owners make with referrals (besides not asking for them) is getting referrals from your current clients and then not following up.
Build a timeline into your system so that you follow up as soon as you get the details of the possible client from your source.
Otherwise, the prospect could forget about you, could buy what you sell somewhere else or could simply turn from a hot lead into a cold case.
These simple five steps can help you at least make a start on your referral generation system.