Referrals are really important to increasing revenue. For example, I do a lot of post-weight loss surgery. I met personally with all the weight loss doctors in town and I told them this is my area of specialty, and I am happy to show you all of my work. I then did surgery on their staff members at a discounted rate. This was an investment, but that’s a profitable business to get into because weight loss patients typically get multiple surgeries and each can be anywhere from $60,000-100,000. It’s a win-win for everybody.
Whenever I try and forge relationships, I figure out what I can do for them. I don’t focus on what they can do for me. If I do something good for them, eventually they will want to help me out in return.
So one of the things with the weight loss people is I told them, “Hey, there are going to be a lot of people who I don’t think need surgery, so I am going to need to refer them to somebody.” That’s how I got them in their door. Because I said, “I’m looking for someone I can trust, so I can send them my patients.”
Breast cancer specialists and the weight loss experts have monthly gatherings. I told them I would talk at any one of them. I said, “If you need a speaker, I’ll come talk. You name the night and I’ll be there. If they have a lot of questions about this stuff, I’ll answer them. I’ll be your guy to come fill in whenever somebody cancels.” If somebody asked me to do something, I said yes because it was a chance for me to be in front of people and for them to see me.
It’s not always easy to get time with these people. I called their offices and said I wanted to meet up with them and I got pushback. I’d go and ask them out to dinner or drinks. I’d bring food: no doctor’s office is going to say no to lunch. So I said I would buy lunch for the staff if I could come in and chat for 20 minutes. I would cater whole lunches for everybody. That might cost me $200, but if I got one or two patients out of it, it was a no-brainer. Sometimes I would take lunch and never hear anything. But I forged really good relationships with a couple of great offices.
Integrity matters a lot with referrals. For example, I go to dermatology offices because they see a lot of patients and do a lot of fillers. If they ever refer me a patient who asks me about some service that that provider already did, I would say, “Go back to see so-and-so for that. They’re great at it. I’ll do the stuff that she doesn’t do.” I never compete with them. I emphasize to them and the patients that we work together as a team to deliver excellent care. In turn, I keep getting referrals.
And when I get those referrals, I make sure I do a great job—not just because that’s my commitment to every patient, but also because it’s how I build great relationships with other doctors. When they refer a patient to me and that patient is grateful to them, then that makes them look good with their patients, and they’ll send me more patients in future. I always thank patients for their trust in me, and I thank referring doctors promptly, too. Building this kind of trust takes time, but it absolutely repays the effort.