Pick up the telephone

This may sound fundamental but you’d be surprised at how many doctors will not pick up the telephone to say ‘thank you’ or just to say ‘hello’ to one of their top referral sources.  In fact, take a few minutes to pull a report (or write it from memory if you aren’t that sophisticated) and divide your top referral sources into three categories.  Here’s a chart for the sake of example:

The referral sources that are sending you 25 or more patients per month deserve a little more than a telephone call – try thanking them with a bottle of wine or lunch for their office staff or something similar.  At the very least, drop a handwritten note in the mail thanking them for helping you meet payroll.

You should know who your referral sources are and what type of practice they run.

getting referral chartThis proves helpful when determining if you think they are sending you all that they can send or if you need to nurture the relationship a bit more.  Just think what it could do to your bottom line if the referring physicians who are sending you 25 patients per month now could double that to 50 per month over the next three months.  You don’t know until you ask.

Depending on the size of their practice, your referral sources listed in the middle and far right columns probably have room to send you a few more patients each month rather than to one of your competitors.  This is where a personal call from one physician to another is going to provide your best ROI.

  • Get on the phone and let them know that you appreciate all the referrals they are sending your way.
  • Ask them how things are going and if there is anything they might need from you?
  • Tell them about any new procedures you are doing and ask them about their business too.

The point is: open the dialogue with a colleague and watch your referral stream increase as well.

Imagine what could happen if you made one 15-minute telephone call per day focused at thanking your referral sources for the business they are already sending you.  For the sake of illustration, look at the charts below.

  • Assuming a brief telephone call increases referrals from your top sources by 10% in a single month, then that would equate to over 18 new patients from that column.
  • Let’s assume that your middle tiered referral sources increase what they are already sending your way by 20% each month (they are probably sending patients to multiple sources and when you take the time to call them, then you then become top of mind for that next referral), then
  • you’d be looking at an increase of and additional 16 new patients from your middle tier.
  • Finally, if you can get your third tier referral partners to increase what they are sending your way by 50%, then you’d be looking at another 10 new patients.getting referral chart 2

Total new patients in one month = 44.8

Total time invested = 4.5 hours

2.7 patients per minute spent on the telephone by the doctor

If this all sounds too simple and easy, that’s because it is.  Getting new business is nowhere near as difficult as brain surgery, although it does require dedicated time from the folks who would rather be in the operating room than on the telephone.