What’s the biggest marketing challenge facing home care businesses today? Competition! If you aren’t doing enough to showcase how you are different, and why someone should choose your agency, you can bet your competitors are and will quickly outpace you in the race to win new business. Getting the word out to those who need to know about your home care agency is vital in order to grow your business, but sometimes it’s hard to know which PR and marketing strategy will have the biggest impact. Many times, finding the right mix for a marketing method happens through a process of trial and error where an agency tests various tactics to find out which ones bring in the most clients. Yet there’s one marketing tactic that should remain a top priority for home care agencies – senior care referrals.
But do you know who your top referrers are? Do you know which referral sources refer the clients who stay with you the longest, and make the most profit? And, how do you know which methods will work best in terms of gaining conversions from those top referral sources?
Top Referral Sources for Home Care Agencies
The first step in an effective referral source marketing strategy is to understand who your top referral sources are, how much profit is generated by the clients they refer, and just how much lead generation you can expect those referral sources to provide. After all, an agency might receive many referrals from a local doctor’s office, but maybe those referrals are all for two-hour stints of service or perhaps only one percent of their referrals turn into customers. It’s important not to just know who your referral sources are, but to really dig into what they’ve contributed to your profitability.
According to the 2014 Private Duty Benchmarking Study, the following were the top home care agency referral sources in the last year:
- 19.5% Past and current clients and their loved ones
- 8.8% Hospital discharge planners
- 7.1% Medicare certified home health agencies
- 5.9% Skilled nursing facilities
- 5.7% State Medicaid waiver programs
- 5.1% Hospices
- 4.2% Geriatric care managers
- 4.0% Area Agency on Aging case managers
- 3.7% Assisted living facilities
These numbers represent the top revenue generating referral sources for home care agencies in 2013. In the same study, 18.4% of consumers listed that they chose their home care agency based on a recommendation from senior care referrals. How can your agency reach out to these sources and win their business?
Referral Source Marketing Techniques That Get Results
Referral source marketing and consumer marketing are different in some ways, but there are solid strategies that work well for both. After all, the consumer is looking for a solution to a problem, and also a better way to cope with his or her personal situation. In marketing to consumers, the agency is directly targeting potential clients and enticing them to explore the agency’s offerings and then call about services, again, to solve a problem or to find a better way to cope.
In referral marketing the focus is aimed at two distinct groups: current clients, and more traditional referral sources such as hospital discharge planners, home health agencies, and physician offices, plus a myriad of other potential non-traditional referral sources. The focus here is on building a relationship of trust with these sources that would make them more likely to recommend your services to those they know who need home care services. Referral sources are also looking for ideas about how to help their clients solve problems and cope with whatever situation caused them to be a referral. How can your agency reach out and start building those strong referral relationships?
- Ask for their business in person. This simple and direct approach is noted in the 2014 Private Duty Benchmarking Study as the number one referral marketing technique. Physicians, hospital discharge planners, and other professional referral sources are very busy, and many may not have time to research agencies on their own. By showing up and providing information about your agency and your services, you may actually be doing them a great favor. You can also have your caregivers ask current clients to refer your services to other people they know, or to provide you with testimonials that can be used in your agency’s marketing efforts. If you don’t ask, you surely won’t get what you need to grow your business.
- Use your printed marketing materials in the right ways. Solving problems is key when using your print materials to attract referral sources. If you only have brochures to leave behind, then you are missing the boat. You need more. Think “problem solving.” You need to share information about your business with others, but, if you offer a value-added service that can solve a problem that your referral source needs solved, then you can make a genuine connection and demonstrate your agency’s worth. Make sure these materials are well designed, professionally printed, and have all of your pertinent contact information on them. Leave your current clients with a brochure at least twice per year, if not quarterly, in case they know someone who might be looking for the services you provide. Your clients’ friends trust their recommendations.
- Email them. E-newsletters, e-blasts, and even personalized emails are a great way to stay in touch with referral sources, remind them about the benefits of your services, and stay top of mind. Make the communication helpful and full of resources to keep their attention, and to encourage sharing with others. Think about implementing a quarterly client newsletter to thank clients for their business, give them helpful tips, and ask them to recommend your services to others.
- Get in front of referral sources in other ways. List your agency in aging care services directories and other publications used by your referral sources. Submit case studies or interesting stories of positive home care practices to the local media, or to neighborhood or religious publications, traditional and online. Sponsor or attend industry-wide events or specific chronic disease association meetings as a way of networking. Team up with other experts and use your expertise to speak at community events or educational events related to aging care or long-term care.
- Reach out to referral sources with social media. Connect with professional referral sources on LinkedIn, and share tips with clients on your company’s Facebook page. Ask clients to “Like” your social media pages.
- Become a thought leader. Share information that is helpful, practical, and that they can use right now. If you help them now by sharing information, they are likely to remember you when the time comes to refer someone they know. Sharing what you know about the industry with others also helps increase their knowledge, and positions your company as a thought leader.
These marketing methods help agencies not only get noticed by potential referral sources, but also help establish them as reputable, knowledgeable thought leaders within the industry.
Need to reach more sources for senior care referrals? Contact the aging care marketing experts at corecubed. Our home care consulting team can help you strategize and optimize your marketing campaign to increase conversions and grow your business.