To complement “Stay Within Scope of Practice: Your Career Depends on It,” in the April 2016 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.
Building referral relationships with other health care professionals can dramatically impact your reputation as a massage therapist and your practice.
Consider for a moment the types of providers with whom you might build a reciprocal relationship: Chiropractors, medical doctors of all types, acupuncturists, physical therapists, dentists, mental health providers, and even other massage therapists who specialize in a different technique than you. Building those relationships will help you in determining how to get more clients.
It sounds great, but how do you do it?
How to Get More Clients
Step 1: Get Results.
Spend the time and effort to constantly improve your clinical skills. If you’re unable to get results with your clients, no one will refer to you, including other health care professionals.
In addition, when it comes to understanding how to get more clients as a therapist, you should know your limits and your scope of practice. If a client would be better served by another provider, make the appropriate referral as quickly as possible so clients receive the care they need.
Step 2: Build a Solid Reputation.
If you consistently achieve results with clients, and recognize and refer cases that are outside your scope of practice, a good reputation can follow. But remember—there are no shortcuts.
Maintain high standards of professionalism in and out of the office, make prompt referrals when necessary, and provide high-quality care for your clients to create the best reputation possible.
Step 3: Create a Genuine Relationship.
You wouldn’t refer a client to a health care provider you didn’t know. Likewise, you can’t expect others to refer to you if they don’t know you.
As you work at succeeding at how to get more clients as a therapist, get to know other providers professionally and individually. Learn about them, their practices, and their values. What is their skill set? How do they help clients? What type of clients would be good referrals for them?
If you ask these questions (and more), chances are they’ll ask the same questions of you. This will enable both of you to make the best referrals for your respective clients.
Step 4: Show Them “What’s In It for Me?”
“What’s in it for me?” is a key concern for many people. If another provider refers their clients to you, how can you help them? Of course, you want to know how to get more clients as a therapist—and these medical professionals want the best care for their clients and patients.
For example, why would dentists refer to a massage therapist? Consider this. Many people in this country suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD).
However, only a small fraction of these cases are due to a structural issue the dentist can directly address. More commonly, the underlying cause is something like stress or whiplash. But many people go to a dentist for help with TMJD, making the dentist feel helpless and frustrated.
If you can show dentists that you understand the mechanics and musculature of the jaw, and that you can successfully help these clients, the referrals will flow.
You can help the dentist by removing his frustration and assisting his clients in a way he can’t. In addition, the dentist looks like a hero, and it frees up his time to work with patients he can directly help.
The reverse is also true, if you have a client who comes in complaining of TMJD, a referral to a dentist is necessary to ensure she receives the best care possible.
Consider hosting an open house for other providers or extend an invitation for an office tour. Succinctly communicate who you are, the clients or conditions you help, the customer service clients can expect to receive, and (most importantly) how you can help them.
Finally, you can help other practitioners better understand what you do by allowing them to experience it at no-cost. Perhaps providing a complimentary 15-minute session to the health care provider will help them feel comfortable referring their clients to you.
Step 5: Communicate & Appreciate.
Acknowledge and appreciate providers before, during, after, and between referrals. Expressing genuine appreciation makes people feel valued and respected and can deepen the relationship and their willingness to refer.
When a client is referred to your practice from another provider, make sure to find out that provider’s name and address. Have the client sign a release form so you’re able to communicate directly with the other provider about their care.
After you’ve worked on the client, compose a full narrative report and send it to the other provider so they’re fully “in the loop.” Make sure to send regular updates as appropriate. Your transparency, impeccable documentation, and collaborative efforts won’t go unnoticed!
Developing referral relationships with other health care providers doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and the willingness to make prompt referrals for clients with issues outside your scope of practice, but doing so will help you at succeeding in how to get more clients as a therapist.
The more you consistently, reliably, and professionally interact with them, the more comfortable they’ll feel putting their clients and their reputation in your hands.
About the Author
Kelley Pendleton, D.C., is a chiropractor, health care marketing consultant, professional speaker, and the author of Community Connections! Relationship Marketing for Healthcare Professionals. She’s committed to using her experience and expertise to help other health care professionals build the practices—and lives—of their dreams.