Getting other people to refer people to you massage business is one of the best ways to build a business. Your current clients, other local businesses, doctors and other health care providers are all potential connections in building your referral network. It just really takes a few good connections to make this work.
The five major types of massage referral networks are:
- Your current clients are your best bet. People who like what you do will naturally refer their friends, family and co-workers to you automatically when you provide them with the massage that meets their needs.
- Your friends and family. Most people out of massage school start there. If you have been working on your friends and family during massage school, now is the time to start setting boundaries and asking them to pay you and refer other people to you.
- Local businesses are another great referral resource. Connecting with people in the businesses is the big challenge of course. Using Facebook can help along with having an effective website to send people to. Find local Facebook groups for your area or special interests and connect with people for other reasons than just getting clients.
- Other healthcare providers. Doctors, Chiropractors, Naturopaths, Physical Therapists, Acupuncturists are another really good resource.
- Other massage therapists. Yes even other massage therapists. Clients will come and go. Clients will have different needs at different times. Getting other massage therapists to refer to you for whatever specific type of massage you do begins with referring people to them first. You will not be able to work with every client that calls and further more you don’t have to work with every client who calls. I had one massage therapist that was so relieved when they heard that. They had been overwhelmed with the thought of having to work with everyone who called.
The Plan of Action
So every one of these areas needs a plan of action. There are many different ways to approach building a referral network. You can work to build referrals naturally and without giving people discounts or incentives. Getting people to refer to you naturally will be the easiest. They will just refer to you because they love you.
You can also give people a reward for referring people to you (if it is legal in your state – check to be sure!)
Your Website as the Referral Hub
When you ask people to refer to you, they will usually send people to your website to see who you are and what you do and also to schedule with you. Your website has to work to get them to actually book the appointment.
So once you get them on the table you of course have to give that extra-ordinary massage! They need to feel better and see results! People like that will go out the door and tell the people in the elevator about you! They will tell all their co-workers, friends and family members. That’s a natural referral network! It just happens on its own! It happens because you give the most amazing massage and you listen more than you give advise. You make people feel comfortable and you make them feel better in their body!
Also, when people find your website through searching online – they are already looking for massage and there is a good chance that they already understand and value massage. People like that are more likely to just refer people to you without having to offer them things in exchange for the referral. That’s the main goal really – getting your current clients to refer to you without having to give them free sessions or points or whatever. They get up off the table and go back to their offices or home and send everyone they know in!
Asking for the referral
You also need to ask people to refer to you – (I heard you gulping from here!) When your clients like you, they will gladly refer to you. Many will assume that you are busy because you are so good and won’t think to refer. It is OK to just outright tell people whatever is going on.
You can also ask them directly and start with saying something like “Hey I am just in the process of building my business if you know anyone who could use a massage, please give them my card (or however you want to have them contact you.)
Another example: I am getting out of the insurance business so I if you know anyone at your office or your wife/husband/family member who might need a massage -send them my way if you could please! Thank you!
I am just starting to work full time and am ready to see more clients so if you know anyone who could use a massage, here is my card.
Get the idea?
Asking for what you want is part of learning to be a business person and be a successful one at that.
The other part of this if you are a sole proprietor, you really only need a few good people referring into your business. Many think that they need hundreds and feel overwhelmed by the idea that they will have to go knock on hundreds of doors or cold calling or whatever. You really want to focus on building a relationship with the people, businesses and health care professionals who are most likely to refer to you – a massage business.
Networking Events or using social media local groups
Networking is not just about going to an event and handing out business cards. It isn’t just finding and going into a group online and saying hey refer to me. You really have to learn the art of listening and referring to other people first! People really are only out for themselves – just like you might be when you think of going to a networking event or doing networking. When you do that – people really won’t care. They will just put your card away and maybe once in a blue moon they might think of you for some special situation but getting one referral a year is not going to really help your business.
People want to know what is in it for them. When you go in with the idea that you want to get to know people first and you also want to really see if they would be a good match for your business. You want quality referrals from people who value and appreciate massage.
Make a list of potential sources of referrals:
- Start with your current clients. Look to see who is referring people to you. Check to see if they haven’t referred anyone to you. Talk to both of them and then ask!
- Look for doctors in your area with a similar philosophy on healing and health. Chiropractors are a good place to start but many chiropractors will usually have an employee working there that does massage. Other good sources are physical therapists, orthopedic doctors, sports medicine doctors and general practitioners. Can you refer to them first?
- Other alternative health care providers like acupuncturists can be a good source. Again, try referring to them first.
- Your business neighbors that you frequent often: closest neighbors – the deli workers, the ice cream shop workers, your favorite lunch spot, the grocery store checkers.
- Figure out a way to get to talk to them. Find out about THEM first! Go to them as a patient. Send people to their shops or stores or to use their services first!