There is no doubt about it. Referrals are one of the cheapest, easiest and most effective ways to build your practice.
However, some practices are thriving with a torrent of referrals whereas others seem to sputter along with just the odd referral here and there. Why the difference?
The sputtering referrals practice assumes that referrals come naturally from doing a good job. Give a great massage and your client will tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends and so on and so on.
But the truth is that while giving a great massage is important, this alone won’t ensure that you get referrals.
Three Steps to Getting Referrals…
The practitioner who gets lots of referrals understands that the process of getting referrals isn’t a passive one. Referrals don’t happen by accident. Massage professionals in successful referral-based practices know that you have to:
- Earn referrals
- Ask for referrals
- Reward referrals
Building a practice through word of mouth requires a systematic approach in all three of these areas.
I can’t cover each of these in detail in this newsletter. So I’ll focus on one area right now. That’s the ASKING part of the process. This is one of the quickest and easiest things you can do to generate increases in referrals. After all, clients don’t even know you want referrals until you let them know. And the simplest way to let them know is to ask them.
But when it comes to asking for a referral, too many therapists are simply too wimpy. They just don’t do it.
If you are not asking for referrals as often as you should, it could be because of some false assumptions on your part. Take the quiz below to uncover some of the things that may be hindering you. (Don’t worry. Spelling doesn’t count.)
Are you a referral wimp?
I don’t ask for referrals as often as I could because…
T / F I’m not sure that my clients are getting enough value
T / F I feel rushed at the end of each visit and I always forget to ask
T / F I don’t know how to ask for referrals in a way that’s comfortable for me
T / F I don’t want to ask for their help because it makes me look needy
T / F I don’t want to appear to be too aggressive
T / F Most clients feel uncomfortable when I ask
T / F I hate getting a “no” or getting other negative response
That quiz was painless, wasn’t it?
Now how many “true” answers did you choose? If you have none, good for you!
If you got only one, not bad. But even that one belief is going to stop you from being as effective as possible in getting referrals.
If you got two or more T’s, you are likely a true referral wimp. Your confidence level in handling referral requests is low. You are making assumptions that are stopping you from taking action and being successful in getting the referrals you deserve.
Now let’s take a quick look at each of these excuses. (Oops! Did I say “excuses”? I meant assumptions, of course.)
I’m not sure that my clients are getting enough value
This is what I hear from professionals who are new in the field and who are just starting their practices. Don’t make assumptions about the value that your clients get. Ask them. At the end of each session ask your client, “How does your body feel now compared to when you walked in here? What feels particularly good? Or what did you like most about the massage?” They’ll tell you how they benefited. It brings the benefits they’ve received to their attention. They’ll be more conscious of how the massage has impacted them. Most importantly, you don’t have to assume that they didn’t get value.
I feel rushed at the end of each visit and I always forget to ask
You “forgot”? Puh-lease! That’s as lame as “the dog ate my homework.” Plan ahead. Leave some time to debrief your client. Put a sticky note in your appointment book over their name. Tattoo the word referral to the inside of your wrist as a reminder.
I don’t know how to ask for referrals in a way that’s comfortable for me
There are a thousand ways to ask. I touch on many of these in the various BodyworkBiz courses. Check out this approach for starters. Assume that you are in the middle of your massage. Here’s how you can approach the subject…
Susan: “This feels amazing. I don’t know how I’d get through the week without your massage?”
You: “I’m really glad this is helping you. (casually) Susan, if there was one person you like to see come in here for massage, who would it be?
Susan: “My sister-in-law. She’s a mess!”
Susan: “She works at that big law firm on the corner of Main and Wilson. You know the one? They work her to death and she gets these awful headaches.”
You: “They’re pretty bad, are they?”
Susan: “Gosh, yes! They knock her out. She can’t function. She ends up in bed for a day or two at a time.”
You: “That’s horrible. You’re right. She really could use massage.”
Leave it at that. Then at the end of the session, say,
“You know, I’ve been thinking about your sister-in-law. I see a lot of people with bad headaches and I really think I could help her out. Would you be interested in giving her a free half hour gift certificate to get her in here so I can do an assessment and see if she could benefit from some regular massage?”
Then give Susan a half hour gift certificate with a two-week expiry date so that she can send her sister-in-law in to see you. Simple enough?
Sidenote: This is a strategy that is discussed in the 60 Clients in 60 Days program. If you are having trouble building a busy, successful practice, then check it out at www.bodyworkbiz.com/60days.php. It will it help you build your practice quickly and will give you the confidence and methods you need to develop a solid referral-only practice. To hear about the results people have had in their own words, go to: http://www.bodyworkbiz.com/60days-audio.php. These audio reports from participants are quite fascinating.
I don’t want to ask for their help because it makes me look needy
First, asking for help is a sure sign of high self-esteem. Second, you are not asking your clients to help sell your services for you. You are asking them to help their friends, family and colleagues who are suffering needlessly. It’s not about you. It’s about them.
I don’t want to appear to be too aggressive
You don’t have to be aggressive. You don’t have to be a bully and you don’t have to compromise your relationship with your client. You ask for referrals when it’s appropriate and you’ll never be perceived as aggressive.
Most clients feel uncomfortable when I ask
Are you familiar with the term “projecting”? You are uncomfortable and you are projecting your feelings on the client. The truth is that a few clients may feel uncomfortable, but MOST feel absolutely fine with it.
I hate getting a no or getting other negative responses
Some people may decline a request to refer someone into your practice. That’s okay. Don’t sweat it. Focus on the 99% of the clients that respond in a positive way rather than focusing on the rare negative response. Simply, consider negative responses as useful feedback. If you get frequent no’s, then it’s a sign that you have to work at making yourself more referable.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. And what holds us back is not know-how, but rather our self-limiting beliefs. Take a look at what negative thoughts stop you from asking for referrals. Ask yourself if your thinking is really grounded in reality.
What would happen if you were wrong and asked for referrals anyway? You’d get more clients of course! So start asking today.
You may also be interested in: The Secret to Getting Referrals