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April, 2010

From the Field: Methods That Inspire Patients to Recommend You

By DCPI Staff

To help you enhance your practice and increase your bottom line, Dynamic Chiropractic PracticeInsights asks practicing DCs like you, for ideas and solutions that have been tested in real-world environments. In this issue, we asked: "How do you get patients to refer others to you? What is your most successful method or technique?"

From your responses, we found insightful feedback and a variety of referral methods and philosophies.

Communication is Key

Many of you feel that communication is the key to winning patient referrals. Listening to what your patient's have to say also is an important factor in gaining new business.

Ken Ross (Florida): "There is no technique or method. It is very simple; listen to the patient, give them undivided attention without interrupting and provide the best service that you can. If they feel you have listened to their individual problem and provided a solution, they will refer even if you don't have the greatest bedside manner. Patients need to know that you care about their individual needs."

Rob Sinnott (Illinois): "Our patients are more than 97 percent patient-referral. For 20 years we have explained the uniqueness of chiropractic using that which makes us unique - chiropractic philosophy. We use analogies that represent the key concepts of our philosophy to illustrate the concept of health to the patient versus the concept of 'disease.' Health is the entity, disease is the result of lost health. Our best service is to remove an interference to the coordinative communication within the body, so that health can be elevated. Practices that have to continually work tirelessly to maintain themselves have an education issue, often based upon a diminished or false philosophical model. Knowledge of your chiropractic philosophy is the only viable sustaining factor. How can you educate if you are not yet fully educated?"

A High Level of Performance

Lou Obersteadt (Tennessee): "Give exceptional service and make sure your patients understand and can explain your unique factor."

Ishan Vest (California): "First of all, I must admit that I am not a great salesman, and good or bad, have relied on effective care to do most of the work. It is my policy/philosophy to be in present-time consciousness when with the patient, so that they know and feel that when I am in the room with them, it's 100 percent all about them. I usually do not ask for a referral until I am sure the patient has perceived a significant improvement in their condition.

"When asking for a referral: ask the patient to agree/acknowledge that they have significantly benefitted from the care rendered at your office; remind them (it is part of my ROF) that we are here to help as many people in our community as we can; and then ask if the patient knows of anyone in the community that we could also help. If so, I would be available to have a 10-minute consultation at no charge to see if I can help them. If I am unable, then I would recommend them to the appropriate health care provider. It is a very soft sell. The first thing is to help the patient, then to get them enthusiastic about feeling better, and then ask [for a referral]."

John Rasmussen (Washington): "Doing an excellent job with the first one is a key and make sure they get what they come to your office in the first place. Acknowledge when they do refer someone, ask who referred them. I also send a thank-you letter with a $5 movie gift certificate. I have not advertised for more than 20 years, not even in the phone book. I do not have a sign and I still get 25 new patients a month; plenty for a solo practice."

Bob Funk (Florida): "I have patients referring to me by doing the best physical job I can for them with the right technique being the key, followed by good office policies and courteous staff. Motion palpation is a great asset also."

Dick Kane (Ontario): "I treat my patients the way I like to be treated: THE GOLDEN RULE!"

Putting The Patient First

In looking at the various responses from chiropractors, it becomes clear that the secret to getting patients to provide referrals is really not a secret at all. Build a rapport. Take care of the patient first, with the best skills you possibly have, and make sure they are satisfied with the outcome of your care. Satisfied patients will want their friends and family to know about you. If you are a success, that won't stay a secret for very long and you will soon have lots of referrals.

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