The Secret Of Getting Referrals

I spent a day with some dental students recently having been asked by their professor to help them prepare for being in practice. A nice job and one I’ve done several times over the years. I was asked to arrive at the teaching hospital between 0900 and 0915 (for a 0930 start) which I did, having travelled 250 miles to be there. Eventually I was met at 0930 by a student representative who took me to the lecture room where 2 out of the expected 16 students had arrived.

It’s always hard to know what to do in these circumstances, start the workshop with the 3 present or wait for the remaining 13. Usually I start, anyway this time, I decided the audience was so small, I would go and have a cup of coffee and wait for the student representative to tell me when everyone had arrived. The last one showed up at 1030…

Now, it makes no difference to me, I got some emails written and enjoyed a nice espresso. However, being reliably (I checked, they were) late is a very costly habit, especially for a dentist. Many years ago, I did a three year training with Dan Sullivan’s organisation Strategic Coach. Very early on, they taught the group this clever idea from Dan Sullivan:

There are four “referability” habits which make it much more likely that clients will refer you to new clients. These are:

1. Show up on time
2. Do what you say you are going to do
3. Finish what you start
4. Be courteous, say please and thank you a lot

I can honestly say that I have tested these out over the last 10 or so years and they really work. Simple, banal-sounding even, but very effective. Just ask yourselves what is it that drives you mad about suppliers of services and I suspect that near the top of your list will be behaviours such as these…

  • Waiting for them to do something they said they were going to do (like send a quote)
  • Not starting/arriving when they promised they would
  • Leaving a job unfinished
  • Leaving a mess
  • Leaving you confused as to what happens next or how much it will cost

Call me old fashioned, but I see our culture losing many of these habits, replacing them with a lack of courtesy, aggression and anger. This means that the folk who display these four habits become rarer and consequentially, even more in demand,

If you use these referability habits, it might just be all the marketing you will ever need, It has worked very well for me!

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One Response to The Secret Of Getting Referrals

  1. Hi Simon
    When in practice, we did these as a matter of course – apart from anything else, it’s just basic good manners – which is why I wound up with a referral practice!
    I am renovating a property and the various trades are driving me (not so slowly) mad because of the points you outline.
    What gets right up my nose is that when you raise this, they react as though you were being unreasonable and demanding.
    It all runs so contrary to how I used to do things…
    The house is nearly finished but the nearer to completion we get, the worse they get.
    Sometimes I can barely contain myself and have to leave ‘negotiations’ to Bridget as her diplomatic skills are better than mine.
    I am considering sending this piece to the builder but suspect that would be the final nail in the coffin.
    Any advice?
    Best regards

    Richard Wozniak
    PS I still regularly read your blog.

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