I went to the eye doctor a few weeks ago. I go each year for a check up. Things are great, I found out I have 20/10 vision. I should have been a pilot or a surgeon, but alas, you could not learn from my eye appointment if I were either of those occupations.
I brought with me my Doctor Referral Sheet. As we talked and my eyes dilated we chatted about life. I told him about the crazy year of my cancer, my daughter’s hospitalization, and how I finally felt like I was on the other side of things. I then said, “At least my counseling private practice is going really well.”
“I had forgot you were a counselor,” he said.
“Yeah, I brought some referral sheets if you ever have someone with new diagnoses that are difficult or anxiety because of a new eye condition.”
“I just had two this morning, I wish your appointment was earlier in the day,” he said.
“That’s ok, let me know if I can help.”
We then went on with the appointment. It was natural and was not high pressure selling. He may refer, he may not. The thing that we often forget is that our doctors are also friends with other doctors. They may be members of the local country club, yacht club, Rotary, or some other organization. They may refer a friend or family member, not just their patients.
We can never see our doctors or referral sources as a means to an end. Instead, we have to be collaborative partners with them. We never know when they, their friends or family, or patients will need our counseling services.
Since I know that doctors are often very busy, I sent a follow-up thank you card with my business cards inside.
I have written several articles about this subject, especially in regards to doctor referrals, but I keep going back to it because I continually get asked about how to get more referrals. Here are a few things that I have learned:
1. When you are in public, whether at the Farmer’s Market or out for a drink, you are marketing yourself. That does not mean you must get dressed up, such as for work, but attempting to be presentable and friendly in numerous environments will help.
2. Give your cell phone to referral sources, they may not need it, but it could make the difference between referring to you and someone else.
3. Write a thank you note when the first referral comes, ask your client if they want you to coordinate with their doctor or other clinicians.
4. Attempt to have marketing materials that all match and look different than other therapists in your community. Stand out, but don’t freak people out. For example, here is a postcard I made for a parenting class I was running.
5. Do your best to make referring to you easier than everyone else!
Do you agree? Disagree? What are you doing to get more referrals? Leave a comment below.
Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC is the owner and a counselor with Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. He also helps counselors to be more awesome in private practice by helping them build websites, consulting, and encouraging them. He can’t believe he has 20/10 vision!