Our 2015 UCM Upper Cervical Practice Survey results are coming in and our hope is that the information that we can obtain will help all upper cervical doctors be more successful in 2016. If you haven't participated in the survey yet we will continue to have it running through the end of the year. Just click the link above to answer the 10 question survey. We will be slicing and dicing this information up and releasing it a variety of different ways to help you.
One of the most interesting questions was "What have you found to be the most challenging part of practice in 2015?" By far the most common response was "Obtaining New Patients". This is certainly congruent with the information we have previously found from our blog. By far the most popular blog post on the Upper Cervical Marketing Blog is our blog post on the best ways to promote your chiropractic practice https://uppercervicalmarketing.com/blog/best-ways-to-promote-your-chiropractic-practice/ which was a post we created about a year ago and still has extremely relevant information, feel free to check it out.
There are 2 main ways to obtain new patients. External sources and internal sources. External marketing is anything that is done outside of your practice with the specific goal to attract new patients into your practice. As opposed to internal marketing which is anything that is done inside of your practice with the specific goal to attract new patients into your practice. We will write future blog post about internal marketing in 2016 but let's take a look at the results of our survey as it comes to external marketing today. The question we examined was "What has been the most effective form of external marketing for your practice in 2015?" and by far 2 answers were most commonly given:
Let's take a look at each of these avenues for generating new patients in 2016 in detail.
One of the best doctors that I know at generating professional referrals for his practice is Dr. Jeff Scholten. He has built relationships with dozens and dozens of health professionals throughout his community who regularly refer to his practice in Calgary. I just spoke with him recently as he is going to be our first guest on The Upper Cervical Marketing Podcast releasing in January (make sure you're looking for that... It's going to be awesome!) and he said that last month nearly 50% of his new patients came from professional referrals. This is not an anomaly, Jeff and his associates consistently see 50 to 60% of their new patients from professional referrals.
Here are some key quotes from Dr. Jeff about professional referrals that will help you generate more of them in 2016.
"Professional referrals is not really that hard to do. It is just that I think a lot of people try to shortcut it and forget that it is just a relationship like any other. You have to be authentic in that relationship and in your inquisitive nature. If you don't care and you don't want to know but you just want to get the benefits, you are probably not going to be successful to that."
In order to generate professional referrals for your upper cervical practice it must be a win-win for everyone involved. If you're looking to develop relationships with health professionals in your community what is your motivation for doing so? If it is only to generate more new patients for yourself as Jeff said you're probably not going to be successful. But if you genuinely are seeking the best interests of your patients and their well-being then it's likely work much better.
When you meet with health professionals in your community are you looking to find people who could help your patients when you are not able to? Upper cervical is awesome! But no one can help everyone with everything. There are certain problems that your patients have or will have that can be helped by others. And when you are the one who helps them find the results that they're looking for you become a trusted advisor that will likely increase your referrals from patients as well.
The other health professionals will also be happy because you are referring patients to them and you will be happy because you will be receiving referrals back from them as well. It is important to know that you will always need to refer more than you get referred. This is something that I know from my experience and Dr. Scholten has mentioned many times as well. The more you refer the more others will refer back to you but it is never going to be a one to one. You will always refer more to your network than you get referrals back.
"The thing is you have to be professional to get a professional referral. When a person puts their reputation on the line and sends somebody to you, you have to really understand the depth of what that means. They are saying, "This is the person that I think can help you." and they are sending that person to you, and you have to steward that appropriately. You have to make sure that that person has a great experience. In that situation, if you are doing a hard sell on them. It is going to make it difficult for that to be sustainable for you."
Jeff really nails it with this quote. You have to be a professional to get a professional referral.
What does it mean to be a professional? Here's a great list of what it means to be a true professional:
Some of these speak for themselves, but let's talk about a few of them.
How important is the satisfaction of your patients to you? I think most people say that they want their patients to be satisfied but is that their ultimate goal? Even more than that we want to create raving fans of our practice and patient satisfaction should be the minimum. How do we satisfy patients and create raving fans?
Well number one is we have to get really good at what we do. As it says in the list above if you make expertise your specialty as in focusing on becoming an expert in upper cervical practice. Not just technique but all aspects of practice, then you will have a much higher rate of satisfied patients and raving fans. If you do more than what was expected. In other words under promise and over deliver you will create way more raving fans. And if you do what you say and say what you do in other words the crystal clear and have strong certainty, communicate effectively and be guided by a mission that your patients will be extremely excited about who you are and what you do.
How does this all relate to professional referrals?
As Dr. Jeff said in the quote above "You have to make sure that that person has a great experience" When a health professional in your community entrusts their patient to you and they have a fantastic experience and become a raving fan of your practice, what do you think is going to happen when they go back to see their other health professional? They will most likely have a conversation about you and the incredible work that you do. That is likely going to lead to more and more referrals from that health professional.
Creating professional referrals on a consistent basis requires strong relationships with health professionals in your community. As Jeff says "You have to be authentic in that relationship and in your inquisitive nature." Building relationships is the same whether it's with a friend or a business associate. When you meet with the health professionals in your community look to develop a relationship. Share your knowledge but be inquisitive about what THEY DO and be genuine. The conversation needs to be primarily about what they do. Then they will ask you about what you do.
FOR GOODNESS SAKE DO NOT BE CREEPY!
If you're patient's satisfaction is your ultimate goal that will come across when you speak with them. They will understand that you are looking to help your patients in any way that you can. And when you refer your patients to other health professionals make sure you praise the other health professional. Build them up in the mind of your patient. This will create goodwill with the other health professional but it will also make it more likely that your patient will follow through on the referral and actually go see the health professional that you believe can help them in addition to you or instead of you.
When a health professional refers one of their patients to you make sure you say thank you. Give them a call and thank them for the referral and give them a short report of the phone. Follow it up with a written report as well. Send holiday gifts to the health professionals that refer to you just to say thank you. There are many ways to say thank you but it is important that you do every time they refer to you. People like to be thanked. Remember it's a relationship.
Next time we will take a look at the other most common way that upper cervical doctors are generating new patients from external sources which is Internet marketing (our favorite subject :-)). If you want to get a head start you can download our complimentary e-book The Essential Step-By-Step Guide to Internet Marketing for the Upper Cervical Chiropractor by clicking the button below.Online Marketing Discovery Session PS you can now get read part 2 of this series of blog posts here.