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National research has indicated that the average massage therapist receives four physician referrals every month. This means if you didn’t receive any doctor referrals this month, the massage therapist across the street might have received her four plus yours for a whopping eight total. Why is she getting these referrals when you’re not?

What you put your attention on expands. If you spend time between sessions reading People Magazine and the therapist across the road is contacting the people who work in medical establishments, it’s not hard to see why you have zero physician referrals and she has eight.

Let’s see what you have to do so you can get your four—and maybe the four of the therapist a few blocks away who’s playing Words with Friends on her smartphone between sessions.

When thinking about referrals, it’s important to remember that a client sent to you by a medical professional for pain management after an automobile accident might have a relatively short, albeit concentrated, relationship with you.
But it’s also possible the whiplash victim will wind up as an ongoing client who loves massage for the relief from stress and overall sense of well-being it provides.

An ongoing client who sees you twice a month could be worth $6,000 over three years’ time.

locate physicians for referrals near youLocate Physicians

Finding all the physicians near you, regardless of the plans they accept, will take you just a few minutes. Search Google to find local physicians, and create a list in a spreadsheet program, so you can keep a record of notes and updates as you pursue each relationship.

Call each medical establishment to find out the name of each physician and her specialty, as well as the names of physicians’ office managers.

With this research accomplished, you’re ready for step two of the process—writing the letter. And by letter, I mean letter, not email.

You’ll have a more effective medical networking campaign if you send the physicians a 20th-century letter rather than a 21st-century email. (And do not jump on the phone or walk into physicians’ offices unannounced. You know how you feel when sales reps barge in without an appointment. Physicians, who are usually far busier than you, are no different.)

The Path to Prosperity

The Buddha taught an Eightfold Path to Enlightenment. The letter you’re about to write is an eightfold path to prosperity. Here are the eight essential elements of the letter to this potential referral gold mine:

1. Indicate that you’re well-aware physicians often seek non-drug remedies to help relieve patients’ pain, and for healthy ways to manage patients’ stress.

An American Massage Therapy Association report released in February 2015 noted that “more than 54 million American adults (17 percent) had discussed massage therapy with their doctors or health care providers in the previous year, a slight increase from 2013,” and that of those people who discussed massage with their health care provider, “71 percent of their doctors or health care providers referred them to a therapist; strongly recommended massage therapy; or encouraged them to get a massage.”

Why should another massage therapist serve your nearby hospital’s patients when, with a little bit of networking, it can be you?

2. At a party, you tell the person you’re meeting your name early on, right? So, let the physician know who you are, how long you’ve been a massage therapist, where you work, and if you take insurance.

3. In the first paragraph, offer the medical professional a complimentary massage, so he can experience firsthand how effective your work is in addressing pain and managing stress.

4. Next, if you have any successful case histories, share one, briefly.

5. Indicate your eagerness to help any patient who might be similarly suffering.

6. The person you’re writing to has an extensive scientific background. If space allows—because your letter should be just one single-spaced, typed page—you could include a brief summary of scientific research conducted on massage in helping address one condition, such as lower-back pain or cancer-treatment side effects.

7. If you have a brochure—and you really should have one—let the physician know you’re enclosing it. If you had sent an email instead of a letter, you would have had to attach such a document, and because strangers don’t typically open emails with attachments, your email would likely have been deleted.

8. Close the letter by telling the physician that if you don’t hear from him or her within a week, you’ll follow up to arrange the complimentary session.

follow up phone callFollow Up for Physician Referrals

I’d love to say that sending the letter is all you need to do, and that the physicians will immediately get on the phone to book their free sessions. But that’s not what will likely happen.

Make a note to follow up with each physician a week after you send the letter. Send a similar letter to the office manager of the medical practice, because this person often controls who sees and speaks with the physician. Offer her the same complimentary massage.

When you reach the physician or office manager, reiterate that you’re offering a complimentary hour-long massage, so the physician can experience the quality of your massage for helping cope with pain and stress.

If you don’t reach the physician, repeat the invitation in the message you leave, and remind yourself to make the second follow-up call in three business days.

If a third call is needed, state that this will be your last one. Mention that you don’t want to bother him; if he’d like to take advantage of your complimentary massage, he should return your call. If he doesn’t, cross him off your list and contact the next physician, whose patients will benefit from your work, and through whom your business will thrive.

About the Author

Coach Cary Bayer is an American Massage Therapy Association keynote speaker and marketing coach. He has worked with Quality Inns; Oscar-winning actors Alan Arkin and Pietro Scalia; comedian David Steinberg and director Judy Henderson, both Emmy winners; and 300 massage therapists. He has created 14 National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-accredited workshops.

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