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5 Steps to Building a Referral Network

Over the last decade there has been very little growth in our profession. Of those patients who need hearing aids, the percentage who actually do anything about their problem has remained static.  A contributing factor to this lack of growth has been the profession’s inability to effectively market other health care professionals.
If you were planning on developing a program to increase referrals, this would be a good time.  There are many ways to market referral sources. There are direct and indirect ways.
Indirect Methods

  • Clear, concise and informative reports sent back to any referring physicians.
  • Send a letter or other marketing materials outlining your practice and the services you provide to potential referral sources.

However, no indirect method of marketing your referral sources is as effective as meeting with them face to face.
The Direct Method in 5 Steps
Step One
Decide is who is going to do it.
Either train a current employee or hire a new employee to perform this task.  Marketing requires time away from what generates revenue for the practice and should be done by a non-revenue generating employee.  We can help you to choose and to train the right person for this task.
Step Two
For many practitioners the thought of conducting a meeting with a referral source can be intimidating. Some of that fear can be abated by being very prepared to conduct a meeting. This does not mean to overwhelm the referral source with a massive amount of information.  It means that you understand what they want and you understand what you are trying to accomplish.  We can help you to prepare the materials you’ll need to properly market potential referral sources.
Step Three
The quickest way to learn anything is to practice.  Don’t start with the practices that are #1, #2 or even #20 on your “most wanted” list.  Start with a practice a good distance from your practice and work your way closer to your office.  You’ll find that you or the employee hired for this task will get better and better with each contact.  After 5 – 10 visits begin to market practices closer to your target area.
Step Four
Be patient.
A good referral source is something that develops over time. Do not expect that, after your first visit, you will get a lot of patients. More then likely, if your meeting was a success, they will send you 1 or 2 new patients. Over time, if they are impressed with your services and staff you should see an increase. At that point you’ll want to visit once every 3 months.
Step Five
Meet the Physicians.
Once a practice is referring you should offer to meet with the Physicians. Offer to do a detail lunch. If there has been a patient that has required a conversation with the Physician this would be a good time to make that offer. This would also be a great time for their professional staff to meet your professional staff.
Over time you have the ability to take a non-referring practice and turn it into a good referral source and turn a good referral source into a referring machine.