With advances in digital technology creating quite a stir for businesses in any industry when it comes to their marketing strategy, there’s still a significant power in the steady, constant word-of-mouth and referral marketing. As opposed to traditional and digital marketing, where you purchase time or space to promote your business, referral marketing (especially through health professionals) takes time in building strong relationships. In working with leaders in the home care industry over the years, we’ve discovered that working directly with professional referral sources is still the best and most reliable way to grow your home care business.
Yet, based on the findings from our 2017 Home Care Benchmarking Study, many struggle to effectively work with referral sources. Here’s what I mean. In referring to the chart below, you’ll notice several breakdowns of top sources of income from a variety of Healthcare Professional referrals. Of those who participated in our survey, you can see less than 9% of leaders in home care cited Healthcare Professional – Home Health Agencies (Medicare Certified) as one of their top 3 referral sources. Furthermore, it generated 26% of the revenue for those who did cite it as one of their top referral sources. Other forms of healthcare professionals also contributed significantly to revenues in the industry but weren’t considered by many providers as top referral sources. I would call this a hidden gem and a resource that has great potential.
In addition to those percentages, we evaluated businesses who’ve hired a sales representative to work specifically with healthcare professionals versus those who haven’t. You’ll find a fairly significant difference in median revenue between the two over 2014 and 2015 years compared.
To be more effective in your referral marketing efforts with healthcare professionals, we’ve looked to successful Best of Home Care award-winning providers to help us come up with the following strategies.
3 Key Strategies to help you get started with getting more referrals from professionals:
1. Create a Professional Referral prioritization list
On a regular basis, brainstorm with your team all the past and potential professional referral sources in your area. Break down first by company name and then by individual contact. Rate each on a scale from 1-5 (5 being your best referral sources) which are the likeliest to provide you referrals. Pay particular attention to those sources who tend to give you the highest quality of referrals or have the ability to give you those. The list should include at least 20 different sources in-order to narrow down to quality sources.
2. Visit the top sources first
The best way to keep the energy behind referral marketing is to start with some wins. Focus your energy early on with your top 4 and 5 rated referral sources. Write down unique aspects about each and the best strategy to approach them. Most professional referral sources prefer scheduled appointments as opposed to simply dropping by. If possible, have a recurring, brief appointment setup with your top referral sources.
These appointments are most productive when you discuss the following:
- Updating them on the progress of any referrals they have sent you.
- Identifying ways you can help them do their job easier. For example, if you meet with a Home Health Intake Coordinator, they might be struggling with getting people who call them to schedule an assessment. Perhaps your agency has developed some solid intake strategies that you could share with this Coordinator that would be helpful in their jobs. If your company has found something that works that would be helpful for certain referral sources, type/design it up and leave those ideas with them. This approach to helping your referral sources scores big points and the next time they have someone in need of your services, you will become more top of mind.
- Leave each appointment with a decision on next actions. For example, when you will stop in next, a commitment to send an email with details about a client they sent you, or promise to share best practices they’ve asked you about. Just make sure that at least one follow-up action is set and understood.
3. Get personal
When visiting your referral sources, get to know them on a personal level. Take notes. Review those notes before each meeting to help you remember important information you’ve learned throughout your relationship that might be meaningful and important to them – birthdates, anniversaries, family events, etc. Every time they send you a referral, send them a unique thank you card that represents your culture. As an example, when I had my home care business, every time I received a referral, they would immediately receive a personalized thank you card that had wild flower seeds attached to it that they could plant. I had one referral source who posted my unique cards to her office board every time she received them. Within a year, she had several cards and a large garden box full of beautiful flowers. A simple and unique gesture of appreciation became something she loved and could continue enjoying.
This last year, in our surveys for the 2017 Home Care Benchmarking Study, 33.3% of participants felt improved relationships with referral sources would be their top opportunity for growth. While various means can be deployed in a marketing strategy, it was great to see how one with such a personal touch still remains highly effective and is a priority for so many home care businesses. I hope you attend this month’s CORE Webinar or take advantage of our services and other resources in order to continue improving your success in improving and growing your business.
Aaron Marcum, CEO | Home Care Pulse
Aaron Marcum is the founder and CEO of Home Care Pulse, the leader in research, quality satisfaction and performance benchmarking for the private duty home care industry. He is also the creator of the annual Home Care Benchmarking Study. Before starting Home Care Pulse, Aaron owned and managed his own successful private duty home care business in Salt Lake City, Utah. Aaron has a passion for helping this industry grow, and is well-known for his leadership among entrepreneurs in home care.