What I have found in working with both nail technicians and talking to other podiatrists is the misconceptions each has of the other. Podiatrists have heard stories through the media about pedicure-related infections, for example, and may assume that all salons are the same. Also, some podiatrists may feel that you are a potential competitor to their practice rather than a potential referral source. These reasons may make opening the door to a relationship more difficult, but I’m here to share with you ideas to help. Many nail technicians have been able to develop a valuable relationship with a podiatrist and you can too.
The first concern most nail techs have is a practical one: What is the best way to contact a busy doctor?
Call. The first person you will speak to is the receptionist. She is the one you have to convince to talk to the doctor. Most of the time the doctor will be with a patient, and you will have to leave a message. Keep your message brief and to the point by mentioning that you are located close by and are looking for a podiatrist to whom you can refer clients. Mentioning referrals should get their attention. Ask when would be the best time to talk to the doctor. You may also want to do a follow-up phone call within two weeks if you hadn’t heard back A doctor’s busiest days are usually Monday and Friday, so during the middle of the week would be a better time to call.
Send a letter. Make sure the envelope is professional looking since this will be the doctor’s first impression of you. The letter should be typed with spelling and grammar checked. In a letter, you can get in more detail about your safety standards, training, belonging to organizations, etc. If you need to refer quite frequently, say so since this will show him what a good source you can be. You may also mention when is the best time to reach you, since more than likely he will call you back rather than sending a letter to you.
Fax. I realize that a lot of salons do not have fax machines, but doctors get a lot of their communication from the fax and all have them. They may be more likely to look at the fax than to open an envelope.
E-Mail. I think the medical profession may be a little behind with e-mailing, especially some of the older doctors, however this could be effective way of reaching somone. You will need to find out their e-mail address. This can be done on the initial phone call. At that time you can get their e-mail address and fax number.
Another angle to connecting with a podiatrist is through client referrrals. Ask your clients if they use a podiatrist. They could help smooth the way for an introduction by mentioning your name, location, and how satisfied they are with your services.
It may take a combination of contact sources to be successful since it will depend on the form of communication the podiatrist most prefers. But when you have a professional referral relationship, it can be the source of a steady stream of new business for both the nail salon and the podiatrist.
The International Pedicure Association provides to its members sample letters and a personal referral to a podiatrist in your area. For more information, contact The International Pedicure Association.
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