February 24, 2016 |

How to Increase Referrals to your Home Care Agency

When it comes to our health, we strongly value referrals from family and friends or trusted experts like doctors and health care specialists. Referrals are a gold mine for a home care agency because the prospects are more serious with their inquiries, already favorable to your services, and the only required cost is doing your job well. Of course you can capitalize on this source of new clients with a little investment, but the only true requirement is providing value and a customer experience that’s worth talking about.

Follow these simple guidelines to maximize your incoming referrals and, just as importantly, to make the most of each one.

Prioritize customer experience.

You want happy customers. Every business wants happy customers. Focusing on client satisfaction is a no-brainer in the service industry. Yet, sometimes we get bogged down in getting things done or getting things “right”, and we forget to prioritize the personal touch. We mentioned in a previous post that thriving in this industry requires a key ingredient—what will make your agency stand out from the rest in such a way that people will want to tell their friends? Effectively managing and administering care is the bare minimum—what is the interpersonal touch that will make it clear your agency is truly invested in its clients, and is worth recommending?

Don’t be afraid to ask.

Some people are more likely to share their opinions and recommendations than others. Yes, you will get unprompted, organic referrals from your most satisfied and talkative clients. But what about the rest? They may be incredibly satisfied and willing to talk about it, but they need you to ask.

Find a way to make asking for referrals part of business as usual. Ask purposefully, but not repeatedly or in a way that creates pressure. When you meet with a family and the senior or their family shares positive feedback, ask if they’d like to refer anyone that could also benefit from your services. Email is also a good way to ask for referrals, but again—consider the frequency and the approach such that clients don’t feel pressured or bombarded. An email that specifically asks for a referral should be used sparingly, but you can include a short blurb at the bottom of certain emails like, “We appreciate our clients. If you appreciate our services, the best thank you we could ask for is a referral.” … of course with a link where they can refer someone to you.

If a client does want to refer someone, you want it to be easy and painless for them to do so, which brings us to the next section …

Make it easy to refer.

Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to do something good, and then being hit with roadblocks that keep you from doing it. Once someone decides to give you a referral, the steps to do so need to be as easy as you can possibly make it. No logging in. No multiple steps. No searching for the right button. One hiccup could stop the process and there goes your referral. Before you invest in a program to draw in referrals, first invest in making it easy to do so. Test it with users outside of your organization to make sure it truly is easy and intuitive.

Follow through.

You know what is more frustrating than wanting to refer someone and hitting roadblocks? Finding out no one followed up on your referral. The biggest factor in someone wanting to give you a referral is TRUST, and they also trust you to follow through. Like this Rosemark article says, “If they recommend you and you don’t come through, their own reputation will be damaged, and you’ll never get a referral from them again.” Invest in a process and tools that ensure each referral is handled in a timely manner. And of course, say thank you!

Build relationships in the industry.

A referral from family and friends is the most likely type of referral to result in a new client, but plenty of referrals come from other groups within our industry: nursing homes, rehab facilities, other home care agencies that might reach maximum capacity or have a different focus that could send referrals your way. Invest time and energy into building relationships with nearby organizations who also work towards providing quality care to seniors. Align with organizations that share your values and the relationship will quickly become mutually beneficial—both financially and with respect to reaching your goals of improving quality of life for your clients.

Do you have a good system for referral intake? Tweet us your thoughts at @SeniorGrowth.

At SeniorGrowth, we are dedicated to improving the Quality of Life for seniors through the power of data.  We build solutions to empower senior care organizations with data analytics and insights to prove their impact and make a difference for the seniors they serve.

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