There's a widespread lie in the chiropractic world - If you've been in
practice for any length of time, you've probably heard it more than any
other so-called "practice growth" strategy. That lie, of course, is "Asking your patients for referrals is the
best marketing you can ever do!"
like most things that seem too good to be true, this is a strategy that
falls apart when you try to bring it out of "Theory-Land" and into the real
You can certainly generate a LOT more
referrals in your practice - but if you use the wrong strategy, you run the
risk of putting your existing patients in an uncomfortable and awkward
situation, alienating these patients, and still getting no new
Why does just asking for referrals fare so poorly?
practice growth experts don't seem to understand that you walk a VERY fine
line in your practice - Yes, it's a business, but first and foremost, it's
a place where your patients come to improve the quality of their
Most practice growth programs &
trainers seem to forget this critical first part - and try to force feed
you with marketing strategies that may work elsewhere, but would be
disastrous to put into place in your practice.
However, the generic "asking for
referrals" strategy doesn't even fall into this category - because just
saying to a patient or client in ANY business "Can you think of anybody
that you might be able to refer to me" is an awful strategy
What you mean … And what they hear
When most chiropractors say “Can you
think of anybody who you could refer to my practice?” the underlying
message from THEIR point of view can roughly be translated as
"I'm so glad
that I've been able to help you over the last few months/years.
Every time you come in, I can see the difference
between now and your first visit. I just want
you to know that if there is ANYBODY in your life who's going through what
you were, who is in the pain that you were, that I'll do my best to help
them, like I've helped you. I don't know if
we'd be able to achieve the same level of success, but I'll do anything I
can to help them on the path to optimal health."
more often than not, when you ask for referrals, your patient doesn’t hear
that. Instead, he hears:
"Can you think very hard, and rack your brain,
to find a way to bring me more money? What you're paying me isn't enough - I want
Now, that's not a question you want to
be putting to your patients, is it?
How to ask for referrals… And GET
One of the
simplest, and most effective way to ask for referrals is to follow the LSR
model of referral generation. It's LaSeR
focused and will give you great results.
LSR stands for Limited, Specific, and Regular. Before we
look at these elements, though, lets look a little closer at why most
referral requests fail.
Important considerations for any referral request
You have a LOT
of expertise, and can help treat any number of conditions - But most of
your patients will ONLY think of you in terms of what brought THEM
Think about it
this way - If I were to ask you "Do you know anybody who needs an
accountant?" You would probably tell me "Sorry,
no, can't think of anybody."
But what if I
asked you "Do you know anybody who's started their own business within the
last 3 years? Do you know anybody who has kids
entering university? Do you know anybody who's
going through a divorce?"
These are all people who might benefit
from speaking to a skilled accountant - but asking for them in this
SPECIFIC way makes it much more likely that you'll be able to think of
somebody who fits SOME of these criteria.
Can you see how this applies to your
Okay, so now
let’s look at L, S, and R (out of order) as they refer to referral
The idea here is to pick 1 or 2 things
that you treat frequently, and ask your patients if they know anybody who
is suffering from those ailments.
example: "John, before you go, I wanted to ask
you - Can you think of anybody in your life who suffers from migraine
headaches?" Then wait.
Give him time to think. If he says no, you can ask "Do you know anybody who's
suffering from arthritis?" Again, give
him time to think .
You can explain that you're asking
because while you've had great success in treating many patients for those
conditions, you know that there are many more people who are suffering
through them needlessly - and if that's the case with any friends, family,
or co-workers of John's, you want to do anything you can to
you're going to spend a month asking your patients about these specific
conditions, and only once per patient within that month - So if you see
John again in 2 weeks, you won't ask him then, because you asked him
that you want to change the specific thing you're asking about on a regular
basis - Usually, every month or two months works best.
That way, you can ask all of your
patients about potential referral opportunities in a much more effective
way, and you can ask them a number of times over the course of a
Bringing truth to the great lie
The LSR model
for referral generation is one of the ways that you can help your patients
bring in MANY more referrals to your practice - without putting them in an
awkward position, and without putting your relationship with them at
The great lie
of "asking for referrals" is that you just have to ask - Like the best
lies, it has a kernel of truth to it. The LSR
model is part of what they don't tell you - namely, that unless you ask in
the right way, you're likely to do more harm than good.