Today's post comes from PT Paul Potter, a private practice owner with more than 35 years of experience, host of the Functional Freedom Podcast, and the author of the Cash Therapy Practice: Professional Freedom in the New Healthcare Economy and On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a therapist say he or she needs more referrals, I’d be retired by now. After all, we all want a schedule full of clients we can help.

Many therapists have inflated expectations for their referral streams. At the same time, they often struggle with marketing their practices. Why? Because they don’t understand what it takes to generate business in the new healthcare economy. They’re convinced that marketing is not their job. If you fall into this category, you cannot afford to live that lie any longer.

Thanks to the Internet and social media, consumers have unlimited information at their fingertips and unprecedented access to the experiences and recommendations of their peers. These savvy buyers now hold the power; they often walk into their physicians’ offices and tell them exactly where they want to go for therapy.

It’s time to take advantage of this new era, to get your brand in front of consumers, and to ask your satisfied clients for referrals. This is how smart entrepreneurs build successful businesses.

To that end, here are ten strategies that will help you build your own effective referral network (for a more comprehensive look at physical therapy marketing best practices, be sure to check out this free PT marketing guide):

Untapped Potential: The Art of Discovering and Selling Your PT Value - Regular BannerUntapped Potential: The Art of Discovering and Selling Your PT Value - Small Banner

1. Distribute a customer satisfaction survey.

Customer satisfaction surveys provide a fantastic opportunity for you to connect with your most satisfied patients. Remember to keep surveys short, accessible, easy to submit, unbiased, and always anonymous.

2. Set goals and track your performance.

One of the simplest ways to improve referrals is to focus your attention on those measures that lead to referrals. Your lead measures should be things that you can influence and that are predictive of the goal of more referrals.

3. Get out of the clinic.

The more well-known you are in your community, the greater your opportunity for referrals. Network with diverse groups in environments that allow you to demonstrate your skills and credibility as a therapist.

4. Create a blog.

One of the best ways to generate referrals is to give potential clients a chance to get to know you—thus allowing you to build trust. It is important to lead clients to one location where you can control your professional brand. Your blog is a platform that you can personally customize to shape a potential client’s experience.

5. Grow your social communities.

Social media platforms provide an effective mechanism for expanding your reach and generating word-of-mouth referrals. But to do that, you’ll need a strategy. Focus on posting helpful, useful content on one or two social media platforms where your ideal client is already present and interacting.

6. Keep in touch with your connectors.

Nobody builds a practice all by himself or herself. You need advocates who believe in you and your ability to help people. Most therapists can identify those clients who are the evangelists for their practice. They are the satisfied clients who will spread the news about your practice and connect others to you.

7. Fill your schedule with speaking engagements.

Take advantage of every opportunity to present yourself as an expert. Any audience that shows up to hear you speak is likely filled with natural clients for your services.

8. Network online.

Build your online presence by networking with key influencers. In the old days, “networking” meant convincing physicians to send patients to your practice. Today, the trick is to leverage any referral source who can direct clients your way: personal trainers, coaches, and massage therapists are the first ones that come to mind. Include patient testimonials on your website to enhance your credibility, and make sure your Google business ranking is high.

9. Connect with a community cause.

If you have any connection to a cause related to your practice, you can position yourself to both promote your business and do some good. Physical therapy has so many natural ties to health-related causes; if you’re not already connected to something, start looking.

10.  Love on your loyal patients.

We all have loyal fans who are extremely satisfied with the care they’ve received. Maintain relationships with these clients by staying in contact and letting them know how much you appreciated their business. (One idea: send them cards on their birthdays.) No single group will generate more referrals than your loyal fan base, and nothing carries more weight than a patient who says, “I’ve been going to my physical therapist for years!” 

The Bottom Line

Referrals are earned one patient at a time, and many times, they result from lasting relationships with very satisfied clients. Attracting more referrals starts with adding value to people’s lives and exceeding their expectations. Be consistent, genuine, and personable in your interactions with clients, and then deliver exceptional, reliable care. Patients of this kind of practice will gladly refer you to others.

  • How to Spend Your Clinic’s Marketing Dollars for Maximum Returns Image

    articleAug 17, 2016 | 11 min. read

    How to Spend Your Clinic’s Marketing Dollars for Maximum Returns

    As author and marketing guru Seth Godin says, “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.” If you want to stand out in the rehab therapy marketplace—and potentially grow your clinic—then spending money on marketing is essential. But, to ensure a maximum return on investment, you’ve got to carve out—and carefully manage—your physical therapy clinic’s budget. Knowing where to put those dollars can …

  • Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar Image

    articleMar 28, 2018 | 12 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar

    Strive Labs co-founders Ryan Klepps and Scott Hebert recently joined WebPT president Heidi Jannenga for an insightful webinar about improving patient retention and reducing early patient drop-out. We know this is a super-relevant topic, especially because the cost of diminishing patient visits represents a $6 billion problem that not many people in the industry are talking about—at least not yet. As a result, we received a slew of great questions that we couldn’t get to live on …

  • Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue Image

    webinarFeb 12, 2018

    Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue

    In one corner, we have a highly skilled rehab therapy provider known for delivering amazing clinical outcomes through noninvasive, movement-based treatment. And in the other corner, we have a discouraged, disengaged patient whose quality of life has taken a major hit due to musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. [video://]   If you’re a rehab therapy provider, you’ve probably seen this battle play out more times than you can count—and we’re betting that more often than not, your therapy …

  • The Essential Guide to NPS for Private Practice PTs, OTs, and SLPs Image

    articleOct 8, 2015 | 6 min. read

    The Essential Guide to NPS for Private Practice PTs, OTs, and SLPs

    Dale Carnegie said, “To be interesting, be interested.” This wisdom is the foundation of the net promoter score® (NPS). In the simplest of terms, NPS is a standardized customer loyalty metric. It rates how likely a customer is to recommend your brand, product, and/or service to a colleague or friend. NPS is a solid indicator of customer (i.e., patient) engagement and retention , because people typically only recommend brands, products, or services they feel are truly deserving …

  • Common Questions from our Art of Discovering and Selling Value Webinar Image

    articleMay 16, 2018 | 12 min. read

    Common Questions from our Art of Discovering and Selling Value Webinar

    Earlier this week, WebPT President Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and guest host Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, hosted a webinar designed to help physical therapists learn the art of discovering—and selling—their value. While PTs have historically shied away from sales, in today’s evolving healthcare ecosystem, it’s absolutely imperative that all providers—and especially specialists such as rehab therapists—excel at positioning the benefits of their services in such a way that resonates with patients, payers, and referral sources. At …

  • The Initial Therapy Appointment is Everything Image

    articleOct 12, 2015 | 4 min. read

    The Initial Therapy Appointment is Everything

    Patient engagement isn’t just about being friendly and nice. It’s about giving your patients the information they need to help their treatment succeed. That’s why it’s so important to prepare your patients for their first therapy appointment—in an effort to both set appropriate patient expectations and improve patient retention. Therapy Expectations If a patient has never been to therapy appointment before, expect lots of questions. Better yet, preempt those inquiries by sending patients information about how to …

  • Combatting Payment Fatigue: How to Increase Revenue Without Haggling with Payers Image

    articleMay 31, 2016 | 8 min. read

    Combatting Payment Fatigue: How to Increase Revenue Without Haggling with Payers

    For PT practice owners, finding ways to increase topline revenue can be challenging. While there are a number of strategies for growing your practice, your success ultimately hinges on accomplishing at least one of the following: Getting paid more for the services you provide. Getting more patients in the door. Keeping patients from dropping out early. For many practices—especially newer and smaller clinics—it’s easy to get stuck on the first one and forget about the second two. …

  • D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails Image

    articleSep 18, 2017 | 8 min. read

    D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails

    Homer Simpson introduced the catchphrase “d’oh!” on the long-running cartoon sitcom, The Simpsons, in 1989. It’s arguably one of the most recognizable catchphrases in American pop culture. So much so, in fact, that the Oxford Dictionary of English added the word in 2001. Defined as an informal exclamation “used to comment on a foolish or stupid action, especially one's own,” “d’oh” is the most fitting—and safe for work—reaction to committing a major fail. “D’oh” is even more …

  • 6 Biggest Takeaways from PPS 2015 Image

    articleNov 16, 2015 | 10 min. read

    6 Biggest Takeaways from PPS 2015

    Last week, I joined hundreds of amazing physical therapy professionals, students, and vendors (including yours truly, WebPT) at this year's PPS Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Despite the uncomfortable combination of tropical heat and humidity outside—and near-freezing conference rooms inside—everyone was in high spirits. Though I never made it to Disney World, I still felt like I was in the most magical place on Earth, thanks to the inspiring and informative presentations I saw and the thought-provoking …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.