How to build referral partnerships the right way

There are a thousand PT marketing strategies that promise endless referrals. In my years as a PT practice owner, I think I tried all of them! In the end, I found the most effective strategy is also the simplest: build great relationships.

Running a PT business is complicated. And marketing PT services makes a lot of practice owners feel nervous and overwhelmed. I get it. There are so many new tech tools and strategies flying around. It can be hard to know what’s going to work for your clinic.

Sometimes, we need to go back to basics. That’s never more true than when it comes to generating referrals.

Here’s the thing: referrals are all about relationships. As practice owners, when we develop relationships with other like-minded service providers in our community—whether that’s doctors, athletic centers and personal trainers, nutritionists or other wellness practitioners—we open up pathways for abundant referral streams. We’re able to connect with more of the people in our community who need our help.

Take a moment right now to think about the meaningful relationships in your personal life—with friends and partners, with mentors, co-workers, and classmates. Think about the friend from school who you play racquetball with or the neighbors you fire up the barbecue with every summer weekend. These relationships developed—and stay active—because you put time, energy, and attention into cultivating bonds, over shared interests, similar outlooks, and common values.

You took an interest in these people, and shared something genuine of yourself in return.

Making authentic connections with referral partners is no different. And it doesn’t take complicated, expensive tactics. The tools we need to build relationships are ones we all possess—we just need sometimes to be reminded how and when to use those tools to grow our business.

Check In

Today there are so many ways to seek out and make initial connections with potential partners. Social media tools including LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are a great way to identify potential referral partners and learn about what they’re doing in in your community.  You’re looking for like-minded folks who aren’t competitors, and who are serving the same groups of people you’re looking to help.

It helps a lot if you’ve taken the time to develop your own target audience. Identifying your Ideal Client is one of the essential activities I cover in my FREE guide, 3 Simple Things That Will Get You More Patients and Make You More Money Right Now.

With all this technology at your fingertips, don’t overlook the value of meeting in person. Prioritize face-to-face time with potential and existing referral partners, and you’ll make more meaningful connections, faster.

Share Knowledge

Be ready to demonstrate your value to potential partners. Show them through the data you’re gathering about your practice—that’s both metrics and testimonials– how well you’re helping the people they’re trying to help. Remember, relationships are a two-way street. You need to go into them being willing to give, not just get.

It may sound counterintuitive, but your most important job in establishing referral relationships is to be interested in what your potential partner needs from you. Ask yourself: how can you provide a non-competitive solution to their problem? That’s how you’ll cultivate partners who are highly motivated and committed to working with you—because they understand your value to them.

Stay connected

Don’t sit back and wait to hear from partners, and don’t rely on the few times a year when everybody gives attention to referral sources. Keep the purpose of your referral partnerships front of mind, and reach out with fresh ideas, knowledge, suggestions for collaboration. Develop affiliate programs that incentivize partners to refer to your clinic. Be pro-active about referring out—and tracking those outgoing referrals so you have objective data to show the value you bring to partnerships.