Referrals are undoubtedly one of the most reliable methods to get more business. Having upstream partners like hospitals and physicians refer your home health agency (HHA) means that half the battle is already won. But how, exactly, can you increase referrals from your upstream partners?
1. Educate upstream partners about your business.
Nationwide almost 20% of patients discharged from hospitals are readmitted within 30 days. These readmissions are often preventable, and you know that because that’s your whole industry. Home health agencies are accountable for preventing readmissions during the home health (HH) episode, along with anticipating potentially preventable readmissions after the episode and improving community stay. The key is to make sure hospitals, physicians, and other upstream partners know just how much you can benefit them too.
Once you’ve identified your upstream partners, don’t reach out to everyone at once. Focus on cultivating a few good relationships at a time, and make it easy for them to learn just what you do and how you’re different from your competitors. Arm them with the tools to help their customers (and your prospects); have professionally designed brochures, websites, and business cards that you can give to them to give to their patients. Help your potential referral sources learn to help their customers.
Additionally, your referral partners will want to know how you, your processes, and your products or services differ or stand out from others who they perceive are in the same business as you. And always, always, always translate how that difference creates one or more concrete benefits for your clients. Maybe your staff are more skilled and have higher certifications. Maybe it’s that your facility uses software like Cortex that has been proven to prevent readmissions and help measure patient recovery post-discharge.
If these professionals have specific information about your company, they can be a trusted expert in the eyes of their clients. Allowing your sources to be a knowledgeable source of information is a win for everyone.
2. Create a mutual symbiosis.
Are you more likely to remember someone who has helped you or someone who has only asked you for favors? If you also refer patients to your upstream partners, they’ll be sure to remember that you’ve helped them too. By benefiting each other, this referral system becomes a mutual symbiosis rather than just you asking for favors. After all, your referral sources are businesses too, and they would certainly appreciate your referrals in return.
“To be a great networker you must become ‘you’ centered rather than ‘me’ centered,” Zig Ziglar, famed salesman and business coach once said, “You can get everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
If you help your potential clients solve problems and take care of their needs, they’ll be more likely to do the same for you. How official this mutual symbiosis can look is up to you, whether it’s by sharing booths at industry events, creating a referral plan that benefits both parties, or just by occasionally sending referrals to each other.
3. Keep in touch.
Of course, you’re hoping to develop your referral sources to be long-term relationships. Dedication, persistence, and empathy are all necessary ingredients, and it’s important to keep in touch with your referral sources on a regular basis.
Keep them stocked with your business cards and brochures. Thank your referral source for every referral you receive from them, and update them when a referral becomes a new client. Update them every time you improve your business or add new services. This not only is a great excuse to get back in touch with them but also makes your HHA seem better in their eyes.
If you can show your referral sources that you are reliable, trustworthy, dedicated, and gracious, they will remember you in a kinder light and be more likely to continue to send you referrals.
4. Exceed your clients’ expectations.
Everyone has a story about a family member – you can take this opportunity to make that story a good one about your business. Exceed your clients’ expectations, and it will become easier to get referrals. This tip might be a seemingly simple one but is worth its own section.
If your clients are happy and your agency goes above and beyond to take care of their health, it’s more likely that they’ll talk about how your HHA helped them be healthier when the patient or family members return to their primary care doctors or other upstream partners. Turn your clients into your proof that your business is good for everyone and worth referring to. You should never underestimate word of mouth. If you do a good job and provide good results, hospitals, physicians, and other upstream partners will remember who their patients are recommending.
5. Cultivate a robust online presence.
In today’s day and age, an online presence can make or break a business. Having a complete online business makes it seem legitimate – and makes it easier for people to refer you. With an active internet presence, people are more likely to trust and be able to learn about your business more than you could otherwise. Transparency is key. How else will other people learn about your business? You can concentrate everything that someone might want to know about your business online.
Show people how your agency is different. Have a constant stream of great content that proves your authority in your industry – and helps your agency float to the top of the list when people in your area are searching for care. If you’ve got fantastic patient reviews on Google and Yelp, updated online social media profiles, and more, you’re poised to be referable. That way, your upstream partners can simply point their patients to your website, which can then give them the information they need.
While trying to increase referrals for your HHA can be a daunting task, you know that it’s in the best interests not only for you and your upstream partners, but also for the patients. You know that you can really help your upstream partners; they need places to refer their patients, and you provide it. It’s just a matter of education, time, and effort. Implement these tips when reaching out to your referral network, and watch yourself create lasting and fruitful relationships with upstream partners.