As a physician, especially if you are a new physician, so much of the procrastination that comes with asking for a referral is mental. Yep, mental. These are just some of the thoughts that go through our heads when we’re about to ask a satisfied patient for a referral:
- Oh my gosh, this patient is going to think I’m broke and desperate for more clients!
- Even worse, they’re going to think I need more patients because I’m not a good doctor.
- My service should speak for itself! I shouldn’t have to ask for a referral!
- I’ve been in practice long enough to have proven myself. Referrals should just come.
- What if they say no?
- Doctors should not have to be salesmen.
- I’ll ask next time.
These thoughts run through our heads and then we talk ourselves out of asking…. a vicious cycle that leads to stagnant practice growth and a pit in our stomach, which is SO not necessary!! In reality, away from our self-deprecating behaviors, you ARE a good doctor, with exceptional service and experience, but still need to be your own personal PR firm when showcasing your talents! People are just too busy and egocentric in their daily lives to remember to refer to you. I mean, really, when was the last time you were driving your kids to gymnastics and thought, “Oh, I’ve got to refer someone to my dentist today!”?? It just doesn’t happen that way. It’s our job to remind our patients why they should refer and how they should refer in an easy-breezy way.
In order to reboot your mind about what it is to accept referrals, I want you to completely erase the word “ask” from the equation. I don’t want you to “ask” for a referral from a satisfied customer, I want you to TELL THEM what you want them to do next. Lead them to where you want them to go in your doctor-patient relationship in a fun, creative way in the form of a statement, not a question.
Here are a few examples:
- Patient: “Thanks, Doc, you really made me feel better today!” You: “Fabulous! Spread the word!”
- Patient: ” I can finally walk without pain.” You: ” That makes me so happy! Don’t keep me a secret!”
- Patient: “I didn’t realize how much pain I was in until I started feeling better.” You: “Most people don’t! Make sure you share your story.”
- Patient: “I should have come here sooner.” You: “Yep, but we have you on track now! Don’t let your friends do the same. Send them over.”
- Patient: “I should bring in my husband.” You: “Yep, you know I’ll roll out the red carpet for him! Let’s set it up!
I could go on and on! Notice that these are short, positive statements that nudge the patient in the direction you want them to go without making them uncomfortable with an intimidating question. Also notice that it is delivered immediately after the patient expresses how happy they are with their service and results! That is the very best time to nudge them for a referral.
Here’s a really important point to remember: I don’t want you to just pick one of these phrases and start using it if it is not a phrase that is in alignment with who you are as a doctor or if it clashes with your personality and style. I want you to find YOUR catch-phrase…the one that matches who you are and your practice style. It has to really fit you to be delivered as genuine and not forced. Getting good at this requires you to know your style and know what works for you.
So, start brainstorming! What are some phrases that you regularly find yourself saying? List some catch-phrases that you can really see yourself using solely because they truly reflect you as a person and can naturally flow out of you without resistance. Once you find your personal catch-phrases, look for those opportunities that happen every day in our practices to use them. Let’s face it, we get people better every day – we should be able to share that with as many people as we possibly can in our lifetime!
Happy referral building!