All professional practices rely on referrals for their clients. Your referrals can come from many places – patients, other physicians, their office staffs, nurses and others in the hospitals, friends, fellow congregants, a fellow parent….and so on. The long term health of your practice is tied to your ability to maintain an ongoing stream of referrals.
Asking for a referral is acceptable and appropriate. Building a network of relationships with other physicians and their staffs does several things:
- You need colleagues to consult with and to commiserate with
- You can make better referrals when you know the people you are referring to – and they know you
- You are more likely to get a referral from someone who knows you
Yes, every physician is very busy and time is tight. But sometimes a break – say, over a meal – would be a welcome respite. Where I live now, lunch or breakfast, or even a cup of coffee, is a common “informal” meeting ground. I’ve lived in other cities where dinner was more common. The point: invite someone out once a week and get to know them, and they get to know you. As modest restaurant, convenient to their office, is best.
To your patients – I’m a bit leery of asking patients directly, as you run the risk of seeming desperate. A better approach might be through your practice letter/newsletter, something which you should be doing on at least quarterly. I’ve seen some dentists offer drawings for prizes for making referrals, but I’m leery of such stunts. While the monetary value is minimal, I’m not sure they accomplish anything.
The third prong of referral building: be there. There is your medical society, but there are other places in the community you should be. If you have children, go to the
Finally, when you get a referral that you can tie back to an individual, send them a thank you note. A referral that requires a report back should get one in a timely manner – otherwise, a simple note, is in order.
Woody Allen: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”