“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, at least
6 out of 10 of these new patients should answer with one of your 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 successful plastic surgery practices, 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 expert;
- Mentioning your name at a luncheon she attended with her
family who wanted to know why she looks so good, and on and on.
Referrals vs. “Stranger Patients”
You most likely are pouring your money into the Internet to find 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.
What I mean is, your receptionist must be able to book the consultations, the
Internet prospective patients must show up for their consultations and these
stranger patients must also say YES more often than 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.
Meanwhile, the word-of-mouth referred patient is already “pre-sold” on you.
Their friend, family or colleague already raved about you. These prospective
patients 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 their friends, family and colleagues.
Now include several gift cards – one for your current patient who’s referring,
and the rest for their friends. This way, you are thanking your current patient
for their referral, but it’s NOT required for them to use their gift card
(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 your staff feeling as if
you are pushing referrals. Set up a simple, heartfelt and eye-catching display
at your checkout 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 remember.
She 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.