Growing a Doula Referral Network
The task of finding new clients can be quite daunting. There are so many ways to go about it. You could create on a stunning website with top notch SEO, setup an ad in Facebook, distribute thousands of brochures to local OB offices or even hand out business cards to pregnant women you see in the aisle of the grocery store. There are truly countless ways to get the word out about your doula services. The strategy that I find most successful is growing a doula referral network.
A doula referral network is a group of professionals that are willing to refer clients to you. Creating this network takes a good amount of time and effort. However, the resulting network can ultimately create a steady stream of client inquiries and hopefully a calendar booked solid.
Every month, I see the power of a great referral source when I finish co-teaching a childbirth class. In my role, I teach a breakout session to partners. The primary teacher is a labor and delivery nurse at one of the hospitals where my clients often give birth. I have developed a great relationship with this nurse which led to this co-teaching opportunity. At the end of every childbirth class there are always several of the couples which approach me about my doula services. The relationship with that one referral partner has become so strong that I could book myself solid some months just from her referrals alone! Each of us has the power to create strong referral partners like that, but I believe that it takes a plan and a concerted effort.
- Schedule weekly time in your business to work on building this network. By dedicating your efforts on this goal you will achieve it. Without taking the time it won’t happen. I suggest choosing a day as your ‘growing your network’ I schedule mine for Wednesdays.
- Make a list of professionals to target. This list could include other doulas, childbirth educators, chiropractors, acupuncturists, midwives, OBs, prenatal yoga instructors, massage therapist, prenatal fitness educators and lactation educators and so on.
- Rank the list in order of easiest to most difficult. Your personal massage therapist might be the easiest while the OB group might be the most difficult.
- Create a presentation.
- Practice it until you feel comfortable with it. (this might be once or 25 times – however long it takes keep practicing until you feel comfortable)
- Setup the in person or phone meeting.
- Act on any to-do items that resulted from the meeting. If you promised to do something as a result of the meeting, DO IT WELL and TIMELY. Examples of this include: give business cards, do a presentation to their clients, send posters, send an email etc. In other words, deliver an awesome product and really impress them.
- Schedule regular check-ins with your partners. This could be a phone call, visit or even a meal together. Don’t give them the opportunity to forget about you my losing touch.
Thank them! When your partner sends a referral your way thank them. You could send an email, send a handwritten thank you note or pop a Starbucks gift card in the mail. This is a key step in the process.
- Alice Turner