When it comes to gaining referrals from professionals, there is no silver bullet; one size does not fit all. Every home care business should find different methods that work best for them to get the professional referral sources they need. However, no matter what your strategy or approach is, there is one ingredient you’ll need no matter what: consistency.
Whatever you choose to do, you must be consistent in your approach. If you’ve read “Good to Great,” you probably remember the analogy of “the flywheel.” A flywheel is a massive rotating wheel used in some heavy machinery to store rotational energy. Large flywheels can weigh at least 5,000 pounds, and to get one moving from a standstill takes a large amount of energy. At first, the flywheel moves slowly and the work is arduous. But after consistent effort, the momentum of the flywheel begins to work in your favor, and it starts to pick up speed. Was it the first push that got it to move? Or the 5th? Or the 100th? No, it was all the small, consistent pushes together that made the flywheel move.
The concept of a flywheel slowly gaining momentum and speed perfectly describes the kind of consistent effort that needs to go into developing your professional referral sources. Those who fail at building relationships with professional referral sources are usually not consistent. It is the consistent, little pushes toward developing a relationship with your referral sources that will enable you be successful.
Identifying Professional Referral Sources
So where do you begin? The first step before you begin marketing to referral sources is to identify which sources you want to target. Below is a large list of potential referral sources that should be more than enough to get you started.
- Home Health Agencies (Medicare Certified)
- Hospitals & Hospital Administrators/Executives
- Discharge Planners
- Assisted Living Facilities
- Skilled Nursing Facilities
- Care managers
- Trusted Advisors
- House Call Physicians
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
- Area Agency on Aging
- Independent Living Facilities
- Physician Offices
- Rehabilitation Centers (Outpatient)
- Rehabilitation Hospitals (Inpatient)
- Veterans Administration Programs
- Workers Compensation Providers/case managers
The professional referral sources you choose pursue may vary based on factors like your current networking connections, which sources are available near you, or other factors relating to your business.
If this list has you feeling overwhelmed, consider the following data from the 2016 Home Care Benchmarking Study. In our 2016 survey, we asked participants for their top revenue-generating referral sources as well as the percentage of revenue they accounted for in 2015. The results can help you identify which sources are most effective to pursue. The 2016 Study also goes into further detail on how these stats break down for home care businesses that bill at least $2.4 million in annual revenue. To purchase a digital download of the 2017 Home Care Benchmarking Study, visit benchmarking.homecarepulse.com
Tips for Marketing to Professional Referral Sources
1. Develop a Referral Packet
When you visit with professional referral sources, you need to be prepared. Putting in the effort to prepare can have huge payoffs. Take the time to put together some resources that will help you make a lasting impression and stand out from your competitors. Coming prepared to your meetings with professional referral sources will say a lot about your company and build trust.
Your referral packet might include the following:
- Your company story
- Services Sheet
- Client and caregiver testimonials
- Service Area Map
- Onboarding Process Sheet
- Team Bios
2. Frame Your Future Interactions
To expect immediate results when working with professionals is to set yourself up for disappointment and frustration. When you first start down this path, you’ll likely spend a lot of time with little to no return, and you may feel you’re wasting your time. Sometimes, these frustrations can bubble up into your interactions with these professionals and hurt your relationship. There is no quicker way to destroy your relationships with potential referral sources than showing your frustration toward them. If any single one of your interactions with them contains even the slightest negativity on your part, it’s very difficult to come back from that. You will turn them off to any potential partnerships because they will assume you approach your customers with this same negativity and you’ve hurt their pride. No matter how great your services are, and no matter how many of your customers love you, your attitude can sabotage your chances at any point. Every time you speak with a healthcare professional, you need to be upbeat and respectful of the demands on them.
- Be low maintenance.
- Give them the information they’re ready to hear.
- Pay attention to what’s happening in the office so you know what you can do to help.
- Be happy, engaging, and professional.
- Provide updates on the referrals they have given you.
- Be patient.
- Be professional.
3. Create Mutual Benefit
Mutual benefit refers to an arrangement between two parties where everyone benefits positively, encouraging more partnership going forward.
- Understand What Professional Referral Sources Need
- Give Information to Them in a Way That Respects Their Time
- Create Positive Relationships Through Positive Interactions
4. Know “Your Why,” and Role Play Sharing It
Doctors, specialists, and other referral sources are looking to refer their clients to agencies that can provide them with the best care. Being able to communicate why you do what you do can help you build trust. Ask yourself the following questions: Why did you start your home care business? Why do you do what you do? Most home care providers have a background story as to why they began their home care business. Whether it’s because you had ailing parents or grandparents who could’ve used home care or you love serving people, let them feel your “why.” Your home care business should be the result of satisfying your “why.”
If you don’t have a “why” behind your business, take some time to find what drives you, and why you do what you do. Once you’ve got it, practice sharing it until your comfortable bringing it up naturally.
5. Track Your Performance and Set Goals
Our data shows that agencies that track each inquiry and where it comes from have higher revenues. With your team, discuss which metrics can serve as key indicators. How will you measure your success in working with professional referral sources? Tracking performance will be key to setting realistic goals that will help you add momentum to your referral source flywheel.
6. Find the Right Person for the Job
Often you only get a short window to make a good impression when you visit with professional referral sources. You need to evaluate what your strengths and weaknesses are and decide who is the best person to send to represent your business. That usually means someone who is friendly, positive, and outgoing. The best decision might be to hire a dedicated Referral Networking Rep/Senior Care Consultant or assign the responsibilities of building relationships with professional referral sources to a Sales Rep.
Finding the right person to develop relationships can take an unnecessary burden off your shoulders. As important as professional referral sources can be, don’t let it distract you from other priorities you might need to focus on in your business. This will all depend on the unique circumstances of your business and the resources you have available.
Be Consistent, and Don’t Give Up
Just like the flywheel, asking for professional referral sources will be difficult at first, but your consistent effort will gain momentum and eventually pay off. It is not the effort of one attempt, but the accumulation of multiple attempts that will help you see success. Creating a plan or strategy and sticking to that plan will help you gain professional referral sources and better ensure success.