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Ep.62: The Word of Mouth Practice


A word of mouth referral is the absolute best advertisement you can incorporate into your cosmetic practice. It’s also the cheapest form of advertising that you can invest in and it takes minimal time and effort.

Word-of-mouth referrals will increase your closing ratios, decrease your external marketing costs and grow your practice.

So, how do you get them?

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The Word-of-mouth Practice

A word of mouth referral is the absolute best advertisement you can incorporate into your cosmetic practice.

It’s also the cheapest form of advertising that you can invest in and it takes minimal time and effort.

We all know the best patient is a referred patient.  When a friend tells another friend, family member or colleague about you, that’s golden.

They are already pre-sold on you, they are not as price sensitive and they are more likely to stay loyal to you.

Word-of-mouth referrals will increase your closing ratios, decrease your external marketing costs and grow your practice. So, how do you get them?

Word-of-mouth referrals don’t just happen. Or, they don’t happen enough on their own.

They must be deserved, encouraged and sought after using creative, subtle methods.  Sure, you will get some referrals from your core group of fans in your practice, every practice has them, but you want them from every patient – not just the chosen few.

You grow your word-of-mouth referrals by focusing on them. Make word of mouth referrals a priority in your office, set up processes and incorporate these strategies:

Referrals Start with 5-Star Customer Service

The easiest way to get patients talking about you is to give them something great to talk about.

Offer extraordinary customer service to stand out. Of course, you need commitment from your staff to make patient satisfaction your #1 priority.

Nothing is more important than patients relations if you want to build a referral practice, so meet with your staff regularly to ensure they understand the importance of treating each patient with a warm and friendly attitude every time they call or visit.

Also, be sure your telephone is answered by the third ring by a human being, call back when you say you will and don’t keep patients waiting!  Respect your patients’ time and concerns and they will brag about you to their friends.

Computer Tracking

 

You can’t really know who your advocates are unless you can track them accurately.  It’s vital you have a process and computer system that automatically tracks referral sources so you know who is really referring people and who just says they will but never gets around to it.

You also want to track who actually books procedures from these referrals.  Good computer systems will outline, in detail, who referred whom and the outcome in terms of revenues generated.

Talk to Your Patients

Referrals come from connecting with your patients so they feel cared about as a person first, then as a patient.

So, before you jump right into the clinical reason they are there to see you, spend a couple of minutes on them as a person.  Ask them about their family, their occupation or anything else that strikes you as interesting from their patient in-take form.

Use their name and make eye contact with them. Ask them questions and then let them talk. The point is to bond with them personally first so they know you care about them.

They will relax, open up to you, and talk more about themselves.  You can learn so much about a patient if you show you are interested in them.

And, you will be surprised what you learn.  Perhaps they are a member of the media or they are part of a large company who could use your services as an employee perk. Who knows until you ask.

Think of it this way.  Each of us has an average inner circle of approximately 250 people.  That includes friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, gym buddies, etc.

If each of your patients told only one person from their inner circle about you, that would DOUBLE your practice growth.  How does that sound?

Remember, like-minded people hang around with other like-minded people so you want your “preferred patient” to bring their friends to you.

But don’t take that for granted. Be sure to tell your patients that you want more patients just like them and if they send you their friends, family and colleagues, you promise to take great care of them.

 

Network

 

I have watched surgeons grow their practices quickly with networking.  Remember the adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.  If you are good at networking, you can tap into groups of people who can become your preferred patients.

Every person you meet should know who you are, what you do and the services you offer. If nothing else, be sure your business card says it so you can at least introduce yourself and hand them a card listing your cosmetic services.

 

Look at who you know in your community and the service providers you personally use. Perhaps you are friendly with the cosmetic dentist down the hall or other non-competing specialties who would be happy to refer their patients to you and visa versa.

Or perhaps your staff regularly visits a certain hair salon, works out at the popular gym nearby or your office manager goes to a yoga class down the block.

You can turn those casual alliances into viable word-of-mouth referral outlets by having your staff hand out their own busines cards listing your services.

They can also introduce you to the owners.  If you hit it off, you can give them business cards or customized signage to display in their place of business and, in return, you can give them a special offer to offer their clients, customers or patients.

Get Involved in Your Community

 

Giving back to your community shows you care and you are a 2-way street.  Getting involved in a worthy cause makes you feel good and its good for the community.  If you don’t have a cause close to your heart and need to find something, think strategically.

For example, if you want to be known as the “Body Doc” in your community, perhaps you can offer your services to mommy groups.

Or, if you want to get into the “in” social crowd in your community, work with the socialites in your area that give considerable time and money to fundraising efforts and get to know them.

Become part of their crowd to build trust and they will loyally go to you and send their like-minded friends to you as well.

Use Content to Spread the Word

 

Content is king on the Internet so produce lots of it for different media channels so your patients can share it with their friends.

For example, you can videotape a consultation with a prospective patient talking about liposuction (with their permission, of course) and then upload it to YouTube and Vimeo. Break it down into small pieces and upload to Instragram video to IGTV. Use the video screen shot in your Facebook banner ads that click to the full video with a “Click Here to Schedule a Complimentary Consultation”.

And there’s more. Transcribe the patient consultation and use it for your blog posts, articles and press releases. Send an email announcing it to your current patient list and add “Share this with a Friend”.

The point is to cross-purpose one piece of content to many different media channels to increase your precense online and then encourage each audience to pass it along to their friends.

 

Social Media Booth

 

Make it fun and easy for your patients to share you with their friends on social media. Order a customized popup backdrop with your logo printed on it.

Have it standing in a corner of your office near check-out. The patient can take pictures with you and your staff and videotape a testimonial and then upload it to their Facebook and Instagram pages.

Educational Digital Events Worth Talking About

 

Prospective patients may have researched breast aug online but they haven’t heard you personally describe a breast aug procedure, so grab your ipad and shoot a couple informal videos explaining in your own words the benefits of the procedure as well as the process and answer the FAQs that come up regularly.

You can also do an online presentation using Zoom.us or GoToWebinar.com with power point slides explaining procedures and include a call to action at the end such as a complimentary consultation to encourage them to take the next step.

The beauty of this digital event is you record and now repurpose it by adding it your Website, email it to your patient list and use it for social media posts.

Here’s another tip for growing your cosmetic practice through referrals. YOU ASK!

In my book, Your Aesthetic practice/What your patients are saying, I ask them why they didn’t refer you to their friends and I kept hearing, “I didn’t even think of it”.

So any written communications coming from you should remind your patients how much you appreciate referrals.

Add the phrase, “Bring a Friend” to your invitations, and “Send This To a Friend” on your website and internet messages.  Add a special note in your blog posts and ads and have an eye-catching reminder sign in your reception area.

Also, have your checkout staff pass a couple of referral cards, along with the receipt, they hand to the patient for that day’s visit.

The more your patients are reminded, the more they will remember you when they are talking with their friends about cosmetic rejuvenation.

Thank Your Patients

 

Don’t take referrals for granted.  You want to thank your patients; however, a boring computer-generated form doesn’t cut it.

 

Patients want to be appreciated for their trust and acknowledged for their support so show them thanks.

o  Have your staff call them immediately to thank them

o  Send a personal note from you to thank them

o  Call them yourself to thank them

o  Send a gift of appreciation

Behavior that is rewarded is repeated so make a big deal out of how much you appreciate their referral and more will follow.

 

Frequent Referral Program

 

Reward, encourage and acknowledge those special patients who offer multiple referrals.

Every practice has those patients who just love them!  They visit often, they know the names of the staff’s children and what schools they go to.

They may live in the same neighborhood, their kids go to the same school your kids go to, they go to your health club and so on.

You have a special group of loyal patients who sing your praises all over town. Whenever the subject of cosmetic rejuvenation comes up, they are the first to jump in and tell everyone what you have done for them and how happy they are.

We call them your rapid fans.

But it’s the 80-20 rule.  Like everything else in life, 80% of the referrals will come from 20% of your patients.

The goal is to get a whole lot more of your patients sharing you with who they know. Implement a referral program but do it with caution to stay out of trouble with the medial societies and their fee-splitting rules.

Just so you know, the medical boards say you cannot pay someone that encourages antoher person to have a medical procedure. So there cannot be a tit-for-tat exchange of money for referrals.

That’s a big reason I came up with the KiSS Rewards Club. Your patients get KiSSes, not money, when they refer, review and return so it keeps you out of trouble while growing your practice in a fun, organic way.

You can visit www.kissrewardsclub.com to learn more.

So the wrap this up, here’s the The Golden Rule reminder

 

Patients have to be truly happy and satisfied with their result as well as the service they receive from you to brag about you to their friends and family.

Be sure every single patient has a “WOW” experience every time they are in contact with you, your staff and your office and watch your referrals grow.

Transcript

Beauty and the Biz

Ep.62: The Word-of-Mouth Practice

 

Catherine Maley, MBA: Hello and welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery. I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of your aesthetic practice, and consultant to plastic surgeons to get them more patients and more profits. And it happens to be mid-August in Sausalito, California. And it’s really been quiet. I’ve been pretty much you know, we’re a virtual company now. And I’m at home all the time. And I’m really tired of it. I miss going to the meetings, I miss speaking, I miss seeing everybody and finding out what’s going on. I do know and I of course, I talk to surgeons all over the world, actually. I mean, I still talk to you. But it’s funny, I can tell things are still very good out there. Because it’s very hard to get ahold of surgeons right now. And that means they’re busy and in surgery. So, I’m glad for that. But I had a lot more time to talk to surgeons when we were all under lockdown. They were a lot more available.

So anyway, I hope all is well with you. And this podcast, I’m going to talk about the word-of-mouth practice. Because a word-of-mouth referral is the absolute best advertisement you can incorporate into your cosmetic practice. And it’s also the cheapest form of advertising that you can invest in, and it takes minimal time and effort. Now we all know the best patient is a referred patient. So, when a friend tells another friend, family member or colleague about you, isn’t that just golden, they’re already pre sold on you. They’re not as price sensitive, and they’re way more likely to say yes to you, and then stay loyal to you. Now, word of mouth referrals will increase your closing ratios. They’ll decrease your external marketing costs, and they grow your practice. And so how do you get them? Well, word-of-mouth referrals don’t just happen or they don’t happen enough all on their own. They must be deserved, encouraged and sought after using creative subtle methods. Now, of course, you’re going to get some referrals from your core group of fans in your practice, every practice has them. But you want referrals from every patient, not just the Chosen Few. So, you grow your word-of-mouth referrals by focusing on them, you make word of mouth referrals a priority in your office, and you set up processes and incorporate these strategies. So, referrals are going to start with five-star customer service, because I’m going to give you a lot of strategies. Now the easiest way to get patients talking about you is to actually give them something great to talk about, offer extraordinary customer service to stand out. Now of course, you need commitment from your staff to make patient satisfaction your number one priority, because nothing is more important than Patient Relations if you want to build a referral practice. So please meet with your staff regularly to ensure they understand the importance of treating each patient with a warm and friendly attitude every time they call or visit your practice. Also, be sure your telephone is answered by the third ring at the latest by a human being. call back when you say you’re gonna call back. And don’t keep patients waiting. Respect your patients time and concerns and they’ll brag about you to their friends. Now let’s talk about computer tracking. Because you can’t really know who your advocates are unless you can track them accurately. Now it’s vital you have a process and computer system that automatically tracks referral sources. So, you know who is really referring people, and who just says they will but never, they never really get around to it.

Now you also want to track who actually books procedures from these referrals. And good computer systems will outline in detail who referred whom and the outcome in terms of revenues generated. Okay, next, you want to talk to your patients. Referrals come from connecting with your patients. So, they feel cared about as a person first and then as a patient. So, before we jump right into the clinical reason, they’re there to see you spend a couple of minutes on them as a person, ask them about their family, their occupation, or anything else that strikes you is interesting from their patient intake form. Now use their name and make eye contact with them and ask them questions and then let them talk. The point is to bond with them personally first, so they know you care about them. Now when you do it correctly, they’re going to relax. They’re going to ask Up to you. And they’ll talk more about themselves. And you can learn so much about a patient if you just show you’re interested in them. And you’ll also be surprised what you learn. Perhaps they’re a member of the media, or they’re part of a large company who could use your services as an employee perk, who knows until you ask. So, think of it this way. Each of us has an average inner circle of approximately 250 people. Now, that includes friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, gym buddies, and so on. If each of your patients told only one person from their inner circle about you, that would double your practice growth. How does that sound? That’s why this is so important.

Now, remember, likeminded people hang around with other likeminded people. So, you want your preferred patient to bring their friends to you. But please don’t take this for granted. Be sure you tell your patients that you want more patients just like them. And if they send you their friends, family and colleagues, you promise to take great care of them. The next one is network. I have watched surgeons grow their practices quickly with networking. Remember the adage, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, if you’re good at networking, you can tap into groups of people who can become your preferred patients. Now, every person you meet should know who you are and what you do and the services you offer. If nothing else, be sure your business card says it. So, you can at least introduce yourself and hand them a card listing your cosmetic services. Now look at who you know in your community, and the service providers you personally use. Perhaps you’re friendly with the cosmetic dentist down the hall, or other non-competing specialties, who would be happy to refer their patients to you and vice versa. Or perhaps your staff regularly visits a certain hair salon works out at a popular gym nearby, or your office manager goes to a yoga class down the block, you can turn those casual alliances into viable word of mouth referral outlets, by having your staff hand out their own business cards, listing your cosmetic services. And they can also introduce you to the owners of the various businesses. If you hit it off, you can give them business cards, or customize signage to display in their place of business. And in return, you can give them a special offer to offer their clients, their customers or their patients. The next one is to get involved in your community. giving back to your community shows you care and you’re a two-way street. So, getting involved in a worthy cause makes you feel good and it’s good for the community. If you don’t have a cause close to your heart, and you need to find something think strategically. For example, if you want to be known as the body doc in your community, perhaps you can offer your services to mommy groups, or be a guest on somebody’s mommy podcast. Or if they have mommy group fundraisers be get to be part of that. Or if you want to get into the in social crowd in your community. Work with the socialites in your area that give considerable time and money to fundraising efforts and get to know them become part of their group or part of their crowd to build trust, and they’ll loyally go to you and send their other likeminded friends do as well. And you also want to use content to spread the word content is king on the internet. So, produce lots of it for different media channels, so your patients can share it with their friends. For example, you can videotape a consultation with a prospective patient talking about let’s say liposuction with their permission of course, and then upload it to YouTube and Vimeo. Then break it down into smaller pieces and upload to Instagram video. You know, it’s called IGTV. You can use the video screenshot in your Facebook banner ads that clip to the full video with a click here to schedule a complimentary consultation. And there’s more, transcribe the patient consultation and use it for your blog post articles and press releases and then send an email announcing it to your current patient list and ad share this with a friend and the point is to cross purpose one piece of content to many different media channels to increase your presence online, and then encourage each audience to pass it along to their friends. Another great idea in today’s world is to have your own social media booth. Make it fun and easy for your patients to share you with their friends and social media. So, order a customized pop-up backdrop with your logo printed on it. Now have it standing in a corner of your office near checkout the patient can take pictures with you and your staff and videotape a testimonial. And then they can upload it to their Facebook and Instagram pages and also, educational digital events worth talking about. Prospective patients who have may have researched, let’s say breast dog online, but they haven’t heard you personally describe a breast dog procedure. So, grab your iPad and shoot a couple of informal videos, explaining in your own words, the benefits of the procedure, as well as the process. And then answer the FAQs that come up regularly when you’re doing breast all consultations. You can also do an online presentation using zoom or go to webinar with PowerPoint slides explaining procedures, as well as showing a whole bunch of before and after photos because that’s what we cosmetic patients love We love the before and after photos. And then include a call to action at the end, such as a complimentary consultation, because they watch this webinar and that’s what encourages them to take the next step. Now the beauty of this digital event is you record it and now you repurpose it by adding it to your website and email it to your patient list and use it for social media posts. Now, here’s another tip for growing your cosmetic practice through referrals. You ask in my book, your aesthetic practice what your patients are saying. I asked them why they didn’t refer you to their friends. And I kept hearing, I didn’t even think about it. So, any written communications coming from you should always remind your patients how much you appreciate their referrals. Add the phrase, bring a friend to your invitations and send this to a friend on your website and internet messages and add a special note in your blog posts and ads. To have an eye-catching reminder sign in your reception area and have your checkout staff pass a couple of referral cards along with the receipt they hand to the patient for that day’s visit. The more your patients are reminded, the more they will remember you when they’re talking with their friends about cosmetic rejuvenation. And then for heaven’s sakes, thank your patients don’t take referrals for granted. You want to thank your patients. However, a boring computer-generated form doesn’t cut it. I have to tell you; I had a dentist I used to live in San Francisco forever. And I had tons of friends I was very, very much a little social butterfly before I got serious about business. And I just had so many friends that moved in and out of the area, then I might dentist I used to send so many referrals to my dentist because my friends always asked me so you know who should I go to for dentists. And I would get back that ridiculous computer-generated form that the dentist even didn’t even know about and they didn’t even sign it was ridiculous. I used to be so offended by that, then please don’t do that. Anyway, patients want to be appreciated for their trust and acknowledged for their support. So, show them Thanks. Have your staff call them immediately to thank them, or send a personal handwritten note from you to thank them, or call them yourself to thank them, or send us a gift of appreciation. behavior that is rewarded is repeated. And so, make a big deal out of how much you appreciate their referral. And I promise more will follow. Now you could also institute a frequent referral program, reward encourage and acknowledge those special patients who offer multiple referrals. And now every practice has these special patients who just love them. They visit often, they know the names of the staff, children and what schools they go to. They may live in the same neighborhood their kids go to the same school your kids go to, or they go to your health club or so on, you have a special group of loyal patients who sing your praises all over town. Now whenever the subject of cosmetic rejuvenation comes up, they’re the first to jump in and tell everyone what you’ve done for them and how happy they are. Don’t you just love those patients. We call those your rapid fans. But it’s the 8020 rule. Like everything else in life 80% of the referrals will come from 20% of those patients. The goal is to get a whole lot more of your other patients sharing you with who they know, implement a referral program, but do it with caution to stay out of trouble with the medical societies and their fee splitting rules. So just so you know, the medical boards and I’ve called so many of them and I never get a straight answer but here’s the straightest answer I’ve gotten. You just can’t pay somebody to encourage another person to have a medical procedure. So there cannot be a tit for tat exchange of money for referrals. That’s Pretty much what I understand. Now. That’s a big reason I came up with the kiss rewards club, your patients get kisses not money when they refer review and return. So, it keeps you out of trouble while growing your practice in a foreigner fun, organic way. So, in essence, your patients are getting kisses for referrals. And they’re collecting those kisses for free cosmetic services. So, it’s got a beautiful system there. That works very nicely. You can visit kiss rewards club comm to learn more about it.

So, to wrap this up, here’s the golden rule reminder. Patients have to be truly happy and satisfied with the result, as well as the service they receive from you to brag about you to their friends and family. And so please be sure every single patient has a wow patient experience every time they’re in contact with you and your staff in your office and watch your referrals grow. Okay, I hope you enjoyed that. And I sure would love for you to subscribe to Beauty and the Biz. Because I’d love to keep in touch with you. And if you feel so kindly, I’d love for you to give me a five-star review. And then of course, please give me your feedback or any topics you’d like me to cover. You can leave me a message on my website at catherinemaley.com or you can DM me at Instagram at catherinemaleymba. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk again soon.

Catherine Maley

Catherine Maley

Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.

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