Referrals: The foundation of marketing

Referrals are by far the most simple, quick, and least expensive way to build your practice.

Most doctors get 50 to 90 percent of new patients through in-house referrals, more than from any other marketing program in place in their practice.

Referrals mean your existing patients believe in you and your results so much that they want to tell others about you, because your success is as important to them as their own. Take note of who your best patients are and continue to stimulate referrals through them. In most cases they refer people just like themselves. Respect your patients’ schedules, goals, and values. Show up on time, do what you say, finish what you start, and say “please” and “thank you.” Never take a patient for granted. There is no time for indifference, overconfidence, arrogance, or sloppiness.

8 ways to get more referrals

  1. Use internal Place signs in your office that gently ask for referrals. Make signs like: “The greatest compliment we can receive is you referring your friends and family to us.”
  2. Mail a Have a mailing list of your favorite referring patients. Send letters to them stating how much you appreciate all they do for your practice. Send these letters every six weeks, and offer patients something
  3. unique they will get when they come to your office for care.
  4. Join a group. Join meet-up groups, such as LeTip or Business International, and hold breakfasts and luncheons with outside businesses to exchange business cards. These meetings can help you determine if these are potential patients.
  5. Create a network. Meet with business owners in your area and talk to them about their products and collaborating with them.
  6. Create a Put a business card directory in your reception area, displaying the cards of people you do business with, and let patients add their business cards to it.
  7. Ask for This sounds basic, but when your patients are getting fabulous results, they are more likely to provide referrals when you ask.
  8. Community Create promotional community outreach programs or use non-profit organizations to create co-op marketing opportunities such as fundraisers or special projects. The people in your community will start to automatically associate you with something they already believe in.
  9. Referrals from results. After the first 12 visits, patients should be happy with their results. Now you can ask them, “I would really appreciate your giving my business cards to three of your friends you think would benefit from chiropractic care.”

7 questions for new referrals

The most effective time to stimulate new patients from regular patients is when they say something positive about you, your office, or their results. When you ask for referrals, be direct or indirect, depending on your style. Sometimes subtlety works, but it takes longer to stimulate referrals. Whether you prefer to be more direct or subtle is up to you. But if your practice isn’t growing, it’s because you are missing opportunities for recruiting new patients.

  • The secret to each question is to know what kind of response you want.
  • Then create a question that gets the response.
  • Memorize questions for all types of referrals.
  1. Ask no-brainer questions they know the answer to and elicit an automatic response: “Has your son ever been checked for scoliosis?”
  2. This question is to qualify a further need for care: “Has he ever complained of any problems like neck pain or headaches?”
  3. This question is another no-brainer: “He’s in the fifth grade, is that right?” This qualifier sets up following questions and adds trust and confidence.
  4. “You know, we see a lot of young kids coming here because of their recess activities. You know how active they are at this age?”
  5. If the child is there: “Do you notice how uneven his hips and shoulders are?” If the child is not there: “When you get home, do me a favor, have your son stand up straight and see if his shoulders and hips are even. Can you do that for me?”
  6. If the child is there: “Do you mind if I just check him to see if there is anything that may be out of alignment?” If the child is not there: “Would you mind bringing him in if you do notice something that isn’t level?”
  7. Verify the need for them to come in to get checked.

“I think it would be a wise idea to get him checked out more thoroughly don’t you?”

The only way for your patients to show their appreciation (other than paying for their services) is to refer others. Encourage them to tell others about their satisfaction with your treatments, as this is how referrals often begin.

Timothy Gay, DC, is the executive vice-president of Life Chiropractic College West Health Center, and a contributing writer to Chiropractic Economics. He can be contacted at 858-354-4222 or at