Referrals can become a large part of your client marketing efforts, and here are some helpful tips to get you started.
According to the 2021 Home Care Benchmarking Study, 6 out of the top 20 marketing sources for home care clients came from healthcare professional referrals. Opportunities to connect with referral sources and networking opportunities are invaluable to your agency’s success.
Here are some of the tips that will help jumpstart your referral marketing program:
- Make a list of referral sources in your area.
- Create a general template for referral source outreach and personalize it based on each provider’s needs, patient population, etc.
- Make each touchpoint intentional and with a purpose.
- Bring evidence and tangible successes that you’ve brought to clients.
- Getting referrals can be easy, but it requires a lot of work beforehand.
Let’s go over how to start your agency’s referral program.
Make a list of referral sources in your area.
There are probably many places close to you that could send a referral your way. Start by making a list of each potential business that could refer a patient or resident to you.
You could even segment this list by target referral sources in each part of the senior living and senior care spectrum. For example, you could list your preferred hospice provider or an award-winning assisted living facility in your area.
If you are having a hard time coming up with a list, you can reference our Home Care Referral Marketing Strategy Guide here.
You can also think outside the box when it comes to potential referral sources. Think outside of healthcare too. One example could be a local house cleaning business or a pharmacy.
You could also sort referral sources into categories, such as:
- Government agencies
- Other healthcare professionals
- Senior and geriatric advisors
- Miscellaneous other sources
Are there places outside of the home that you can think of as potential partnership opportunities? Some home care agencies offered temperature screening and COVID-19 screening stations for larger businesses.
Create a plan for referral source outreach and personalize it based on each provider’s needs, patient population, etc.
Just with any marketing strategy, you need a plan. Here are some pieces of information that you should include:
- What do you offer
- Why you’re different
- How you’ll care for their patients, residents, etc.
- Include an email and call cadence to make sure that you follow up on time
When sending an email or conducting any outreach, personalize the messaging for each business that you’re reaching out to.
For example, you could be saying: “We’re the best home care agency in the Milwaukee area, refer your patients to us.”
Adding personalized touches makes all the difference: “As a home care agency, we recognize the need for your patients to transition home safely after a brief stay in rehab to ensure continuity of care and adherence to treatment plans.”
Just as you have a plan to touch base with your clients regularly, like Friday check-up calls, for example, you need to have a similar cadence for your referral sources.
The social workers and nurses you interact with may get busy, and they may also interact with your competitors. This highlights the need for you and your team to keep your home care agency at the top of your referral partners’ minds.
They’re listening to elevator pitches and statistics about home care from your competitors; you need to highlight your differentiators, satisfaction survey results, and the outcomes of your clients. Instead of explaining what home care is, for example, explain what it does for your clients.
Make each touchpoint intentional and with a purpose.
When executing your referral marketing plan, make sure that each call, email, and visit has a purpose.
- Does the community have any patients that they’re worried about discharging back home? What are their concerns?
- Meet with a variety of staff members instead of just one so that you can develop a well-rounded view of the business.
- Do what it takes to become familiar with their unique challenges and pain points so that you can customize your language to theirs.
Your referral marketing plan could include a touchpoint every 30 days, but what you do at that 30-day mark impacts how this referral partner perceives your agency. How are you going to start the conversation?
Set the tone of the conversation around them. Do they have any fall concerns for their patients? Do they have any patients whose loved ones live too far away to visit?
Think about which approach would be best for your agency and your prospective referral partner, and find mutually beneficial topics that you can both speak on. This could lead to community panel discussions, joint presentations, and cross-company in-services.
Bring evidence and tangible successes that you’ve brought to clients.
Client surveys are a great tool to demonstrate your success and commitment to quality client care. Your referral sources want the best for their clients, residents, and patients, and when they see that you have evidence to back up your claims, they will have no problems referring people to you.
From reviews to specific feedback, and other testimonials you may receive, these demonstrate a track record of your success. Use the phrasing of these reviews and alter them to speak better to your referral sources and their pain points.
For example, if you measure your fall rates or hospital readmission rates, these would be valuable for a hospital to see. They want to know that when their patients need to be discharged with home care, that they’ll be in the safe, capable hands of trained caregivers.
In order to better communicate with hospitals, you can adapt your language to include more accurate or appropriate terminology. For example, with falls, talk about if they were anticipated (expected) or unanticipated (unexpected) falls, and whether they were witnessed or unwitnessed. By doing research into each referral source and learning how they talk about certain things can help you stand out from the crowd.
With the evidence and dedication you put into creating meaningful outcomes for your clients, referral sources will be well-educated on the services you provide and the value you bring to any clients they refer to you.
Getting referrals is easy, but it requires a lot of work beforehand.
There are many details and backend work that go into making a referral source into a meaningful referral partner. There’s no exact number on how long or how many touchpoints you need to make in order to receive a referral, but it could take some time.
You may be in communicating with a referral source for six months or a year before they feel confident enough in you to send a referral your way.
Gary Vaynerchuk, the chairman of Vayner X, said “Saying hello doesn’t have an ROI. It’s about building relationships.” Think about your agency’s greeting when meeting with referral sources, or when sending an email. How is your home care agency saying hello?
This blog was written by Jennifer Lagemann of Home Care Pulse
Jennifer comes from a senior care background, beginning as a family caregiver, and working her way up into various home care administrative roles, ranging from scheduling coordination, to care management, and intake management. She has worked with over 5 agencies, including major franchises. She has a passion for writing and wanting to keep others informed - especially when it comes to searching for senior care options.