A client referral program is a built-in way to jumpstart your home care agency’s growth.
If we asked you to take a moment and write down your top five concerns as a home care owner, it’s almost guaranteed that one of them would be how to get more referrals. (Are we right to guess that finding good caregivers and retaining them are two of your other top five?)
While you should diversify your assets by pursuing referrals from plenty of sources, keep in mind that one of your primary sources should always be your own clients.
It’s a well-documented fact that agencies with a high number of client referrals tend to generate more revenue while expending less time and money into getting referrals. Just look at this chart from last year:
With the home care industry becoming more and more competitive, you need powerful, reliable sources of new client referrals. A client referral program is a built-in way to jumpstart your home care agency’s growth.
Your Client Referral Program
You’re probably already getting referrals from your clients, but have you created a detailed and deliberate process to make these efforts as effective as possible? Here are nine steps to get you started:
1. Offer a discount and make this discount known in any conversations where you ask for referrals. We recommend offering 10-15% off a week of services. While an incentive like this makes a small cut into you profits, it will pay for itself quickly with the new clients it brings.
2. Create a goal and incentive program for your staff. A key part of a good client referral program is an office staff that is involved and invested. Set a reasonable monthly or quarterly goal and post the goal along with your progress toward it somewhere that all staff involved in getting referrals can see it regularly. Offer an incentive if the goal is reached: free lunch, gift cards, or even a cash bonus.
3. Train your office staff to ask for referrals as part of regular communication with your clients. Cash in on compliments: If your client is thrilled with your services, use that as a natural segue into asking if they know anyone else looking for home care that would benefit from one of your caregivers. If you’re communicating regularly with your clients, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to have this conversation.
NOTE: Not every conversation you have with clients needs to include asking for referrals, but it’s important to work it in consistently as appropriate.
4. When a care supervisor or caregiver mentor visits, make asking for referrals a part of their visit. Ensure that any concerns are resolved first and that the client feels highly satisfied with your services. Then mention the discount you’re offering for referrals and ask if they know anyone. Leave them with a card or brochure as a physical reminder of the offer.
5. Give your staff a script. While it’s a simple request and shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of your clients, it’s worth making sure that your staff feel comfortable asking and know how to do it in a way that isn’t shy but also isn’t pushy. You might train them to say something like:
“We’re very glad to hear you’re doing well and that you’re happy with the care you’re getting. You’re in good hands with [caregiver’s name]! Please let us know what more we can do for you. If you’re interested, we’re offering a discount to any clients who refer a friend or family member to start using our services—15% off a week of our services. Just give them our phone number and have them mention you. Do you know anyone needing home care who would benefit from having one of our caregivers start helping them?”
Your staff can put it into their own words to make it natural, but giving them a basic script will help you ensure that the question is asked the right way every time.
6. Send client referral cards or letters to your clients periodically to remind them of the discount and explain how simple it is to give a referral. See our sample client referral program letter below for an example.
Earn more client referrals using our Client Referral Program Letter Sample.
7. Create a plan that tracks who does the asking and when they do it. This will help you manage the frequency with which you’re asking so that you can ask often enough to keep it on your clients’ minds but not so often that you’re annoying them. Your plan might look something like this:
Ask for referrals at least monthly during weekly checkup calls from office staff
Ask for referrals every other month in visits from a care supervisor or caregiver mentor
Letters or referral cards mailed out quarterly
Remember that requests are usually most successful in this order: 1) in person, 2) over the phone, and 3) other sources including mail. While each method has value, you should prioritize asking in person.
8. Track every referral to understand who your promoters are and focus on them. It’s not uncommon for 80% of your referrals to come from 20% of your clients, so it’s important to know your promoters. You may consider making personal phone calls to some of these clients yourself to check up on how they’re doing and promoting your services.
9. Make sure you or staff calls every referring client to thank them for the referral. Mention the discount or incentive they’ll be getting as a reminder of the value they’re getting and show them that you truly appreciate their help.
Leave No Stone Unturned in the Client Experience
The foundation of a solid client referral program is a client experience that’s worth bragging about. As you implement your client referral program, you need to ask whether there are any aspects of your clients’ experiences with your services, however small, that might NOT merit being bragged about—and then do what it takes to change those things.
It can be hard to know your blind spots without honest, direct feedback from your clients. See our Capture Feedback page to learn more about how we can help you learn exactly what your clients think about you. Additionally, our program helps you know just how many of your clients are promoters of your business and who they are.
Want more articles like this one? Subscribe to our email list and get weekly articles sent right to your inbox.
Join more than 20,000 home care professionals on our mailing list.
Get the latest updates from the blog and free resources to help you grow your home care business.