Here are four criteria (or standards) that your doctor referral partnership must meet in order for it to make your practice.
1. The doctor is enthusiastic about your work and becomes an active advocate.
This usually means that the doctor is pretty passionate about health and wellness and walking their talk. (You can tell when you first meet them.)
And they are an inspiring leader in their practice, constantly telling their patients about other things they can be doing to prevent illness, rather then just going through the motions. They're kind of like zealots!
If not, you get the kind of referrals that are simply "following doctor's orders" and never go beyond that first call or first appointment with you. (And you end up thinking it's you, but it's not. The doctor told them to call you, they did. And that's as far as they planned to go.)
2. They support an active presence of your work in their office.
And that does not mean a business card or flyer by the front desk. That's pretty passive and doesn't do too much.
What I mean is perhaps a bulletin board or some corner of the office with rotating tip sheets, ezine (email newsletter) or event sign up, and upcoming events by you. Something like that.
Or a mailing with a short, engaging letter from the doctor to his patients (usually written by you and they sign off on) about how happy they are to have you join their practice with a special offer from you.
An active presence also can mean hosting a monthly 30-90 min presentation on a hot topic in their office, being introduced to each patient as the "go-to person for XYZ", etc...
Ideally, all of the above.
If this isn't happening, you end up wondering why your referral relationship isn't creating results.
3. They have a marketing engine in place.
Meaning, they also understand the importance of regular, keep-in-touch marketing and can easily plug you into their system of outreach.
IE - if they do regular publication ads, they can feature one with "New Expert at Dr. Smith's Office: Come meet... "
Or if they have an email newsletter, they can send a stand alone special announcement about the addition of YOU to their practice.
Things like that.
4. Their clientele is your ideal target market too.
This makes a big difference.
If you don't know who your ideal clients are, then consider the following.
I have found that if the doctor is a fuddy duddy, they attract fuddy duddy patients, who are duds to work with.
Or a doctor who just goes through the motions, will send you patients who also are going through the motions, and don't make great clients.
All of your referral sources will send you similar referrals, so make note of this and see if you can spot those characteristics early on.
You'll see the patterns pretty quickly and that will give you inside information into the types of clients your referral partner attracts and if you want to continue being on the receiving end of those referrals.
So keep this in mind when considering who to partner with. Create a set of criteria (or standards) that your referral partners must meet, rather then partnering with just anyone.
Take your time and when you do decide to partner with someone, give it a 90-day trial (with a clear plan of how you'll integrate into their practice and actively send you referrals -- you'll have to create this!) to see if it's mutually beneficial.
Also remember, that you'll have to generate the ideas (like the examples above) and execute them yourself. Don't rely on the doctor's staff to do things for you. Come up with ideas, run them by the doc, tell him/her how they stand to benefit and how you'll take care of the details.
And don't forget, you want to offer the same exchange of promotion in your marketing engine too.
Hope this helps!
About the Author and WellProNet.com: Karin Witzig Rozell has been teaching health and wellness professionals how to grow their business since 2003. She started as a nutrition counselor who knew a lot about nutrition, but not a whole lot about business and marketing. After learning some tough lessons she cracked the code and now her passion is transforming practitioners into profitable business owners who have a great quality of life too.
She is the founder of Wellness Professional Network, the go-to place for practitioners to learn the real-life business skills they didn’t teach in wellness school.
Karin is the author of The Fast Start to Clients Program and the book:Rockstars of Wellness: Super Simple Ways to Stand Out, Get Hired and Become Irresistibly Relevant to Your Tribe.
Karin lives in Upstate New York, in the beautiful foothills of the Adirondacks, and enjoys working from home with her husband and son.