PT Classroom - 6 Steps to Build You Referral Syndicate ׀ by Nitin Chhoda, PT, DPT


Nitin Chhoda PT, DPT, received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from the University of New England. He is a successful private practice owner and private practice consultant based in Denville, NJ. He conducts workshops, online courses and writes books and articles on private practice marketing.     



6 Steps to Build Your Referral Syndicate

When we treat a patient, it's best to think of the patient as an evolved consumer, who does business with other establishments in your community.

The patient is therefore a 'client' at the local gym, enjoys the chicken salad at the Greek restaurant across the street from Joe's, has had the same dentist, Dr. Stanley since 15 years and uses Charlie Schmidt, the friendly neighborhood accountant.


It takes a great deal of time, money and effort for you as a practice owner to get a patient, treat them and build trust with them. Other businesses do the same, and have a list of clients that they have worked with. These businesses are known, liked & trusted by those clients.

This little detail is very instructive from a referral generation point of view, since it underlines the importance of having your own 'syndicate' of referral sources. If you can build, control and nurture your own syndicate (with you at the helm), you can derive all the benefits of referral generation without the associated hassles and costs.

The best way to do this is to offer to endorse other businesses to your patients, and ask other businesses to do the same. This allows you to spread your wings by reaching more individuals in your community through endorsements instead of traditional advertising.

You should have at least 10 local businesses that are an active part of your syndicate. Also, it's best to create your own syndicate and hand pick the team members instead of joining existing syndicates like the local chamber of commerce and local business networks (which may or may not be active and motivated to help each other).

When forming your own syndicate, you want to identify and invite successful local business owners, since they can potentially give you access to several thousand individuals, while the non-business owner will have a significantly smaller network.

Here is how you can go about it:

1. Compile a list of the top 30 professionals or businesses in your community. Be selective and choose only the most reputable businesses. A good place to start is owners of pharmacies, accountants, attorneys, gym owners, massage therapists, health spas and restaurants. Think where your patients go to and work go backwards from there. You'll start off with the professionals you know personally and then you'll get them to help you in rounding out your list. This will be your core team of 30 business owners.

2. Create this list in an organized format - an excel sheet with names, phone numbers, mailing addresses and emails (if available) for easy reference. You have now built your own 'syndicate'.

3. Approach this list by phone call / letter to introduce yourself and the concept of building a 'referral network'. Tell them you would like to make them a part of your 'syndicate' and that the function of this group is to help each others businesses by encouraging referrals.

4. Inform the 'team' that you will make copies of this list and send them the updated version on a regular basis. By circulating this list, you are not just helping grow your own practice, you are also helping these business owners build their own businesses through referrals.

5. Each time you send an updated list, you will educate the 'syndicate' about your work and how you can help both them and the people in their network. Over time, they'll understand your practice more deeply and will know exactly when to refer people to see you. Because of the regular contact, you are going to be at the forefront of their minds and they'll want to refer to you because you are helping them.

6. Expand your role with the 'syndicate' by making special offers in your correspondence, by profiling other members and their offers to the group, and by helping them develop their own syndicate with you as their preferred physical therapist.

In this manner, you can transformed a 'consumer' of another business into a 'patient' of your business and help other local businesses do the same.


To learn more about private practice and marketing you can visit Nitins' websites at where you can download his free 4 step formula on how to attract new patients, increase referrals and grow your referral network with a simple 4 step plan and  where you can download a free book on physical therapy marketing.


Last revised: May 15, 2011
by Nitin Chhoda, PT, DPT

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