As a birth professional (childbirth educator, birth or postpartum doula, lactation consultant or another similar profession) creating (and maintaining) referral relationships for your birth business should be a critical part of your business plan. With a new year starting, maybe you would like to grow your birth business and fill your client or class calendar with some great families. Here are some easy to implement ideas that you can apply to build up your referral stream. Try whatever resonates for you or try them all. Building a solid referral source is an effective way of growing your birth business. To read all the prior Building Your Birth Business posts in this series, please follow this link.
1. Attend open houses and information sessions
When your favorite doctor, midwife or other potential referral source is hosting an open house, information session or another event, consider planning to go with some rack cards in hand. Don't dominate or "work the room" but do say hello and introduce yourself to the office staff and care providers and leave them with some material to provide to their patients or place on their referral table. It is always helpful for people to put a name with a face.
2. Make it easy to refer to you
People everywhere are busy and your task, if you want to increase your referral sources, is to make referring to you easy and simple. Have some clean and easy to read rack cards that clearly outline what people can expect from your services. Make it easy to locate your contact info for more information. Your cards should be attractive to those referring to you and your ideal client.
3. Let your referral sources know how you help their patients
Along with distributing your marketing materials, include a simple fact sheet for your referrers that clearly demonstrates how their patients/clients will benefit from your services and how that makes their job easier. What do you provide that helps make their patients confident and prepared? Include information about your training and certifications. Let them know that you appreciate their referrals and what you will do to maintain that trust.
4. Welcome new professionals to town
When a new provider joins a practice or opens an office, reach out with a friendly hello and welcome note to accompany your material. They are just getting to know the resources in their new community and a friendly face is welcome. Send along a gift card to the building's coffee shop or a couple of packets of tea and instant coffee in a nice mug as a small welcome gift.
5. Thank people who refer to you
Develop a simple system to track who has referred clients to you and remember to thank them. A nice handwritten note mentioning the family by name and letting the provider know how much you appreciate the referral is always well received. Do so promptly and you will continue to grow your referral system.
6. Share your common successes
This last suggestion comes from Shelly Reese, who wrote "Want More Referrals? Here's How" in the December 20th, 2017 edition of Medscape. Ms. Reese suggests sending referring practices additional marketing materials quarterly to maintain their supply. In the packet, include a letter featuring a recent patient/client success story, a document describing how to refer patients to the practice, and of course, more promotional materials they can give their patients. This system lets the provider know that they are making a difference in their patients' experiences by referring to you. Have the permission of the family and respect HIPAA guidelines.
The best way to keep the referrals coming is to continue to do great work and create satisfied families who go back to their providers and share their positive experiences. Everyone wants to be recognized for having a part in someone else's positive experience. Referrals are a great way to build your business and develop relationships with complimentary providers. What have you found works for you in your community to increase the number of referrals to your birth practice? Let us know in the comments section below?
Shelly Reese. Want More Referrals? Here's How - Medscape - Dec 20, 2017.