Strengthening Your Referral Network
There’s no better way to close out the year than by upping your marketing game. I’m not talking about paid ad campaigns, but rather about your referral network. Building a reliable network isn’t going to happen overnight, but with the right combination of strategy and hard work, a steady stream of referrals will be yours. As an eldercare placement agency, I’ll outline five universal practices we wish our business partners would implement.
Solidify your Company’s Reputation
One of the most fundamental components in securing a referral is trust. It goes without saying that nobody wants to refer clients or patients to a company they cannot trust. If they refer someone to you and it doesn’t work out, then their own reputation suffers as a result. The key is to offer consistent, quality service and be very explicit with your company’s abilities. Educate referral sources about your business. This way, the potential referral partner knows ahead of time whether you’re a good match. There’s nothing worse than businesses that advertise services they aren’t equipped to carry out. Better to have quality over quantity when it comes to what you can do.
Make Personal Connections
The best referrals come from personal relationships. It is important to know the individual who is referring to you. For our field, this means we need to know more than just the name of the office making a referral or the hospital group. Find out the name of the specific person who gave you the referral and let them know exactly what services you can offer. This could include free advocacy, education, or advice. Many doctors and social workers are extremely busy and may not be able to go above and beyond with every patient, as they would like to. For us, offering free aid encourages them to give our number out as a resource. You are your niche in whatever sector your business is in. Maybe not every phone call will turn into a useful lead, but reaching out and providing free services will establish credibility and trust.
Keep in Contact
Once you make a personal connection that can provide referrals, it’s important to avoid the bad habit of only asking for referrals when speaking to that person. The last thing you want to do is make them dread your calls. If you operate an assisted living or any other type of facility, one way you can help placement agents or social workers is by contacting them when you have availability in your home. Chances are, they’ve been searching around for openings, so reaching out not only saves them time, but also puts your home in the forefront of their mind. Be proactive about setting up potential-resident tours and if someone is placed in your facility, keep in contact with the referral source by updating them on the patient’s progress.
Keep up With Technology
On the more basic side, this means having a functional website with original content. You’d be surprised how often we try to point clients towards a website only to find that it simply does not exist. A non-existent website doesn’t look good for the potential client because these days, a strong web presence is synonymous with trustworthiness. Without a website it’s hard to tell whether a place exists without doing more work than most people are willing to do. If you ignore all of the other tips, at the very least, please make a website!
Pay on Time
This one only applies to you if you are in a field where referrals can be bought. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but speaking from the point of view of a placement agency, you’d be surprised how often care homes forget to pay, refuse to pay, or have to be hounded before they pay. When this happens, we cross that home or facility off of the list of places we call. If you signed a contract and agreed to reimburse someone for a referral, then sticking to that contract on your own accord will show them you can be trusted.
Max Gottlieb is the content manager for Senior Planning. Senior Planning provides free assistance to seniors or the disabled and specializes in long term care—mainly finding and arranging care services and applying for state and federal benefits.