When talking about gaining new clients, I frequently refer to social ‘bubbles’ - groups of people who share something with your clients, or circulate in adjacent circles. For example, if one of your clients is a runner, they likely have friends who run. These are your next CrossFitters.
We’ve been involved in postrehabilitation since we opened our doors in 2005. With the advent of Ignite, though, our interaction with healthcare professionals has gone from infrequent to hourly. Though you may not be getting calls from physiotherapists who would like to shift their rehab clients to CrossFit – yet – you’ve likely encountered a few clients with “issues.”
- Jane arrives at 6:55 with her friend, an excited CrossFit Maven. While signing the waiver, she mentions that she has a “knee problem, but I know when not to push it.” What’s your response?
- Bill books a 1-on-1 consultation, and mentions frequent back pain. “I’ve been going to a chiropractor,” he says, “and he told me I’m okay for squats, but not deadlifts.” What’s your next question?
- Dave calls with questions about his daughter. “She just had a big growth spurt, and now her knees ache if she’s sitting down for a long time or playing sports. I took her to physio, but they just gave her some stretches and nothing happened. Can you fix her?”
Each of these challenges are huge opportunities to interact with other healthcare professionals….if approached properly.
Ask the client who they’ve seen in the past. Physiotherapist? Chiropractor? When they give a name, ask permission to share their information with the therapist. Even better, ask them to sign a release of information form on your letterhead. Then tell them you’ll call the therapist, “just to make sure I’m on the right track.” If you know the therapist well, say so.
Create a blank referral protocol. Look professional, and then live up to it. When a RHCP (that’s Registered Health Care Professional) shares a client, you won’t want to waste their time (or wait too long) with multiple calls for small details. Put it on one form. This is how they do it, too.
Ask how you can help the RHCP give the client better service. The biggest highlight of Mike Michalowicz new book, “The Pumpkin Plan,” is that he recommends asking other service providers how you can make their job easier. Find a way to provide service that benefits the RHCP and the client first. Above all, don’t create competition; they have to make a living, too. Even overworked service professionals love to give advice; asking, “How can we help get Michael to his appointments more often?” is helping both the RHCP and the client.
Make a suggestion, and ask for feedback. A physiotherapist isn’t going to write a client’s program for you. They’re busy, and if you’re worthy of their trust, you won’t need their oversight. Our initial email, after mentioning the client, looks something like this: ”MS mentioned that he’s been seeing you for patellofemoral syndrome, and he’d like to get back to playing soccer by the summer. I’ve recommended two sessions per week for quadriceps mobility and hamstrings strengthening; is that in line with your treatment? Any contraindications we’re missing?”
Other considerations – Use your letterhead. Don’t use a client’s full name in correspondence (use their initials, like ‘MS’ above.) Write professionally, even when you know the therapist personally.
Finally, take them sandwiches.
A professional referral is a big deal. The RHCP isn’t just sharing trust; they’re risking their own reputation by recommending you. One of my favourite things is having a huge tray delivered, and sitting down with a bunch of therapists for forty minutes to talk about the book or the Ignite program.
A professional referral can open a LOT of doors. Therapists interact in a weblike fashion; a typical client case usually carries 4-6 professionals, working as a team. Each professional works on dozens of other cases, with dozens of other professionals. Entry into this world is tough, but if you’ve earned a place at the table, it’s of great benefit to your business, to other therapists, and to your clients.
This article was written by Chris Cooper, of Catalyst Fitness/CrossFit Catalyst. He has his own blog, Don’t buy Ads, where he shares relevant info for CrossFit boxes. Chris has also partnered with 321Go Project to offer affiliate business mentoring/coaching to affiliates who are either stuck or are ready to take it to the next level. Find out more about our affiliate business mentoring/coaching strategies >>