If you’re into real estate, you’ve heard that oft-repeated phrase, “It’s all about location, location, location!”
Well, consider this: referral marketing for doctors is all about relation(ship), relation(ship), relation(ship)!
Perhaps you’ve already taken the time to tweak and improve your practice’s referral base by reading Part 1 of Patient Referral Marketing for Dummies (If so, that’s great — if not, we do suggest that you give it a read.) But, what are you doing about maintaining and continuing to build relationships with your fellow physicians or dentists?
Relationship building and maintenance is essential to keeping that referral base you’ve worked so hard to establish thriving and growing. Here are several tried and true methods that will accomplish exactly that:
- Hire a liaison or designate this task to a key staff person. This decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, however. You are a key component of any physician or dentist relationship, and it’s difficult to keep you in that relationship if you step away from your role. The hiring of a liaison for relationship building should be approached in a similar fashion to hiring a lead sales person. The individual must know their product (you and your practice) inside and out so they can operate autonomously and in order for their sales pitch to be effective. Make sure to vet the person you hire to make sure he or she is the best fit for the job. Then assign to them as their first task the creation of a “press kit” for your practice. If you feel that you have no time to devote to relationship building, this may be an option for you.
- Expand your meeting times to incorporate relationship building time. You already have built into your calendar a number of “must go to” meetings and seminars that take you away from the office. Target four or five professional colleagues who already are part of your referral base and invite them to participate regularly with you in pre- or post-meeting get-togethers. Do you have to attend XYZ Meeting every Monday at 9 AM? Invite the group to begin meeting at a nearby restaurant at 7:30 AM for pre-meeting breakfast, discussion, and socializing (or at 12 Noon for lunch). You’ll be giving up little, if any, of your office time (you have to eat, don’t you?) and you’ll be surprised at how beneficial that extra time spent can be.
- Schedule and host a nice dinner at your home with your colleagues and their significant others. Yes, this can be tricky, given your schedule and on-call issues. It’s still do-able, however, given some advance planning. Target four or five colleagues, suggest a round-robin series of dinners where you will be the first host, and develop your dinner calendar. Schedule the first dinner at least three months away in order to allow time for calendar-clearing. Finally, meet with a caterer — the less work on your part, the better — and don’t forget to send a written reminder about a month ahead of time. Bon appetit!
- Exchange “lunch and learn” opportunities with your colleagues and their staff. Staff will appreciate (and remember!) the feeling of inclusiveness. It’s a treat to get away and an even better treat when it includes a nicely-boxed lunch and the opportunity to share with other staff working within their profession. If you are able to create topics from which participating staff can derive CEU’s, so much the better, and don’t forget a nicely-printed certificate of participation or completion.
- Meet with your best area bakery or florist and develop an annual schedule of thank-you deliveries. A good florist or bakery would love to contract with you to assist in your relationship-building efforts. Determine a budget, decide on a handful of targeted colleagues, then meet with the florist or bakery owner and come up with your annual calendar. Within an hour or so, you’ll have set into place a year of benefit that will require no more of your time! If you’re concerned about calories (and shouldn’t we all be?), consider alternatives such as Edible Arrangements., movie or theater tickets, or annual planners. Whatever you choose, be sure to stay within ethical giving limits.
If you’d like to know more about using a web based referral service to manage and track each of your valued relationships, please sign up to our free no risk trial.
What will you do today to work on relationship building?
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