“So, how did you hear about Dr. Smith?”
That is the most important question you should be asking every single patient walking through your door. If you’ve got your systems set up correctly, 7 out of 10 of these new patients should answer with one of your current patients’ names.
A word of mouth referral is the absolute best advertisement you can incorporate into your practice. It’s also the cheapest form of advertising that you can invest in, and it takes so little time and effort.
What’s One Plastic Surgery Patient Worth to You?
Here’s a quick exercise to answer that question. Pick one of your favorite cosmetic patients and follow their numbers. If your practice is anything like other plastic surgery practices I have personally done this for, that patient should be worth at least $40,000 herself and another $90,000 in untold referrals through:
– telling her friends who told their friends about you
– sharing you with her hair stylist who told their other clients
– getting you a speaking gig at her women’s group who now see
you as their aesthetic rejuvenation provider
– mentioning your name at a luncheon she attended with her
family who wanted to know why she looks so good
Referrals vs. “Stranger Patients”
You most likely are pouring your money into the Internet to find your new patients. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you have your processes perfected so you are not throwing your money down the drain. Your receptionist must be able to book the consultation, the stranger patient must show up for their consultation and the stranger patients must say YES more often then they say no.
But is that what happens? Hardly. These stranger patients don’t know you. They don’t know your work . They don’t know what your practice and staff are like. They have no relationship with you so they are not as likely to show up for their appointment and say yes to you without consulting with several of your competitors to compare before deciding.
While the word-of-mouth referred patient is already “pre-sold” on you. Their friend, family or colleague already raved about you and most likely, have seen your skill and expertise first-hand since your patient is your walking/talking testimonial to your great work.
That gives you instant credibility with the referred patient who IS going to show up for their appointment and who IS more likely to say yes because their friend said yes and got a great result.
3 Simple Strategies to Get More Referrals
Heartfelt and personalized communications work best when requesting new patient referrals from your current patients. Mail or email a “Touch” message telling your patients you would love to have more patients just like them and would they please do you a favor and refer your friends, family and colleagues. Now include two gift cards – one for your current patient and one for a friend they can pass on but its NOT required (since you never want to be accused of fee-splitting)
I love peels because they are fast, easy and super low cost to you. They also give your patient a nice result and they can become part of their regular skin care program.
Offer a 2-for-1 peel for your current patient when she brings in her friend at the same time. That way, your patient can introduce her friend to you and your staff, brag about you and get a free peel or split the costs with her friend. Now you have your current patient returning more regularly and you have a new patient who should also return more regularly and bring in HER friends.
Referral Display with Take-a-Way Cards
Here’s a silent referral tool that works without you or staff feeling as if you are pushing referrals. Set up a simple, heartfelt and eye-catching display at your check-out counter that says how much you would appreciate their referrals and invite them to take referral cards.
The patient who is at check-out with their wallet open will see the sign, take the cards, put them in their wallet and share them with their friends the next time they are at lunch or a party when the subject comes up (thanks to shows like The Doctors and Housewives). This is especially important if you have a tough name to
Want More Ideas?
Watch my videos where I lay out the “How To” strategies at www.MorePatientsAcademy.com. Enjoy!
Catherine Maley, MBA is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on cash practice building and trains staff to be converting rock stars. | View Author Profile | Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying