Today’s guest post is from Max Gottlieb, the content manager for Senior Planning. Senior Planning provides free assistance to seniors or the disabled and specializes in long term care—mainly finding and arranging care services, transitioning people into senior living facilities, and applying for state and federal benefits.
Building and Maintaining Referrals
If you want to increase the amount of referrals coming into your home health business, then building and maintaining a referral source network is crucial. Building a strong network won’t happen overnight, but with the right amount of patience and hard work you can have a steady stream of referrals. Each business has specifics, but I’ll list five universal tips below.
Make it Personal
This to me is the most important and most frequently overlooked strategy. Many people have referrals from hospitals or doctor’s offices, but don’t personally know the doctors, caseworkers, or social workers that are making the referral. What many people forget is that referrals are relationships. You need to know who is referring to you—not just the name of the hospital, doctor’s office, center, agency, etc. Nurturing a personal relationship will provide you with many more referrals in the future while showing the person that you’re a trustworthy resource.
Communicate Regularly With Referral Partners
Regular communication is key, but avoid the habit of always seeking a referral when you’re speaking to a referral source. Find ways to talk to the referral source about topics other than what your business does. Find some resources that may benefit them or their clients. Many times, doctors are extremely rushed and are unable to thoroughly discuss all available options with their older patients. Offer free advice, education, and advocacy so your referral partner will begin to see you as aid their patients can rely on. Not only does this alleviate some work for them (something anybody is thankful for), but this also establishes credibility, which is immensely important in the long run.
Measure and Track Referral Sources
If you want to see an increase in your referral volume then you need to have an idea of your current referral trends. Who in your network is referring and are the numbers remaining constant, increasing, or decreasing? Without keeping track, it becomes nearly impossible to measure the effectiveness of your outreach efforts. It doesn’t make sense to exert a ton of effort and time on sources who are not effective, so follow these four steps:
Look back at the last 12 months and pinpoint the source for each referral you’ve received.
Count the total number of referrals per source.
Examine and document any frequency trends.
Adjust your game plan. Step up your effort with some sources while easing up on the less recurrent ones.
Join Associations Related to Your Target Group
Joining an association has obvious benefits. Associations and groups provide new contacts, social opportunities, up-to-date industry news, seminars, and even speaking opportunities. Speaking in front of a group of other likeminded individuals can show your expertise and increase your clout. Joining an association, however, isn’t the end-all be-all, but rather the first step in creating new relationships. You still need to follow up with people you meet because a one-time interaction isn’t enough to solidify your business in people’s minds.
Make it a Two-Way Street
This is another simple point that many people forget. Remember that in order to receive referrals, you also have to occasionally give referrals. Keeping things even strengthens your relationships and influences people to refer to you again. Making yourself an asset is the best way to convince people to contact you frequently.
We really appreciate Max’s post and thank him for the solid advice that benefits us all! If you have an area where you can share some expertise and would like to be a guest blogger, please let us know. For some other home care best practices, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies.
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