It makes numerical sense. Studies repeatedly show that about half of the average practice's patients or clients don't know that the practice accepts new business! How did they get this impression? No one knows, but it means that the word‑of‑mouth you're now enjoying comes from about half of your clientele. (What a concept!) So if we could tell the other half, business should logically improve.
Asking every patient for a referral is BY FAR THE MOST EFFECTIVE, LEAST COSTLY WAY TO Build AN ALL‑REFERRAL PRACTICE. But why must it feel so uncomfortable?
The Answer: Simply, fear of rejection (that's saved lots of people some long years in therapy). It's not anything else. It's not wanting to appear to need business. It's not the fear of looking unprofessional. It's simply fear of rejection.
And the only way to feel comfortable is to do it two or three times the right way. You'll quickly see how people want to help and that they won't reject you. Then you'll feel comfortable enough to ask everyone ‑ routinely.
So ask during their last appointment or during a time in which they feel particularly good about you. But above all ask!
Look them in the eye ‑ because you're sincerely going to ask them for a personal favor. The eye contact indicates the importance of the request. By positioning the request as a favor, it indicates they'll please you by acting on it. That's their reward. In this case, it's what makes Johnny run. After all, you're the authority figure.
Then say: "I'd like to ask you for a favor. If you've liked what I've done for you, I'd like you to send me someone I can help in the same way I've helped you. I'm sure they'll be pleased. And I would appreciate it, too. Will you do that for me?"
Everyone says yes. When you ask, check the AFR (ask for referrals) box in the chart or file so you won't do it again. You ask only once.
Does this mean you need business? That's a thought that crosses only your mind. The people you're asking are thinking they now have a way to please an authority figure in their lives. That's all they're concerned about.
One more bit of interesting info. Volumes and volumes of tests show that if you ask you get. If you don't ask, you don't get. In fact, the tests are so unanimous, that this tactic is the rare slam-dunk.