The 2nd letter we need to consider, as I expand upon my RADAR acronym, is "A" (as I hope you'll have guessed!), which stands for ... Availability. Once referral partners begin to recognise that your service might be just what their clients need, the next important element in their decision process will be based on whether or not they perceive that you are available to offer their clients an appointment sooner rather than later.
We will all have experienced the frustration of calling someone to access their services - plumber, dentist, builder, NHS Mental Health Team (ahem!) - only to be told that they can see you ... but not for a couple of days/weeks/months (delete as experienced). But if that is how our referral partners come to experience their dealings with us ... where we respond to their enquiry to say we can see their client "in a month or two" ... the likelihood that they will call us next time they have someone who fits our criteria is greatly reduced. Private clients don't expect to have to wait for their service. I'm not saying that's ...
But a prompt, timely response is only one part of the "getting on the RADAR" equation. It's essentially the reactive part of this process. However, you also need to be proactive in ensuring that you are visible to your referrers, and this is sometimes where therapists and coaches stumble: how can you do this without being perceived as needy, pestering, possibly not very good ("if they were any good, they'd be busy!") or an annoyance? it is a fine line that needs to be negotiated, perhaps, but it is possible.
One simple way is to ask - ask referral partners how often they would like you to update your availability with them, and then stick to this schedule, with an email or a call to give them an overview of how soon you would be able to see a new referral. I know clinicians who call potential referrers weekly or monthly to let them know they have slots available. If the referral partner welcomes this frequency of contact, great; but always check it out with them, or they may begin to get a little annoyed with your "constant barraging" of uninvited calls. Or, as you continue to work with clients for a given referrer, you can take advantage of your calls to update them on progress to let them know that you have availability in the next couple of weeks to see new cases. This approach is maybe more effective, as you are (hopefully) reporting on your successful interventions with one of their referrals, so reinforcing their decision to choose you for their clients, and thus increasing the likelihood of a similar positive choice in your favour next time they need someone with your expertise.
A third option, and one I've been having some success with lately, is to send, or invite referrers to subscribe to, a newsletter that you distribute regularly, with useful and relevant articles that help keep your referral partners up-to-date with some aspect of your area of expertise. It keeps them informed and adds to their knowledge while also, subtly, putting your name in front of them regularly in a positive context and allowing you to include a message to let them know that you have spaces for new referrals without having to make numerous calls to a range of referral partners. It can take time to build up an active list for such a newsletter, but over the course of time, as you engage with more and more referrers, this list will grow and your message will become easier to share.
To expand on these ideas and grow your business, check out my Business Breakthrough Programme, where I outline some key steps and present some tools that you can use to help increase your visibility and recognition factor with potential referrers. Or email me to arrange an initial 1-1 consultation.
* Coming soon ... "D" is for Deliver