The Business of Getting Referrals

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By: Shari Dalton

April 1, 2019

By: Charity Crawford

Let me know if this scenario sounds familiar to you:

“I can’t believe Nurse Jessica hasn’t sent me any referrals! I mean, I bust my butt for her every week, make sure she gets paid on time, I’m super nice to her on the phone and sent her flowers for her birthday, and NOTHING! I don’t know what else I’m expected to do, here. I’ve done everything possible.”

“Well, have you asked her to send you referrals?”

“Welllllllll, I meaaaaaaannnnn, she’s so busy and I don’t want to bother her, and I’m sure she would send me referrals if she had any, so maybe she just doesn’t know anyone, I don’t know…”


The Referral Fairy doesn’t exist.

You actually have to make an effort to get referrals, most of the time! Ideally, yes, being great at customer service and doing your job really well will help ensure that your travelers will want to send people to you, but often times, just doing a great job isn’t enough.

And as you know, referrals are absolutely critical to growing your desk. Imagine all the hard work you’d have to put into finding 25-30 unique travelers, versus getting 10-15 of your existing travelers to each refer one person to you. Which one would you rather have? Not only that, but the “sales” you have to do for all of your unique travelers is cut in half when you get referrals – the selling has already been done for you, by the traveler who referred them to you. Your praises have already been sung, so you have much less convincing to do. That’s what I call working smarter, not harder.

You probably already know by now that referrals are important, but maybe you’re not sure of the right ways to go about getting them, so I’m going to give you some of my own best tips to help you along.

Set an Expectation Up Front

When you’re in the early stages of working with your candidate, let them know that you want to grow your own personal business and it’s very important to you that you are able to get referrals. Tell them that if you do a great job as their recruiter and they’re satisfied with the work you do, that you would expect them to refer travelers to you. I can already hear some of you thinking to yourselves, “Oh gosh, that seems a little pushy and aggressive!” But think about it – aren’t you likely to refer your friends to businesses that you’ve had good experiences with? This isn’t any different. This is a great time to remind them of your company’s referral bonus program, as well, so they know that they’ll get something out of it, too.

Ask for Feedback on the Regular

Have you ever been behind a semi on the highway and noticed that “How’s My Driving?” sign on the back with a number to call for any complaints or comments? You constantly need to be asking your travelers, “How’s my driving?” Once they’ve been working with you for a bit, ask them what would have made the process easier for them in the beginning. Ask them what changes they’d like to see for the next assignment. Ask what you could be doing differently to make their experience better. Asking for feedback not only gets great suggestions for how you can improve, it shows that you’re 100% invested in the relationship and committed to being a great recruiter. You have to be a great recruiter to get referrals.

Make It Easy for Them to Refer People to You

Business cards were more popular back in my early recruiting days, but these days, people are getting more creative with how they share their contact information. One of my favorite creative ideas was ordering fortune cookies with your contact info inside of it and sending them to your traveler to distribute. Have fun and get creative with it. Try to make sure your travelers have your business cards, contact info, etc. prior to starting the contract so they can pass out your info during orientation as applicable. Also, make sure that you are friends with your travelers on social media so that referrals can reach you easily and send you messages, and so that your traveler can tag you in Facebook posts when other travelers are looking for new recruiters.

Ask Who Else They’re Working With

The chances are pretty high that your traveler isn’t the only traveler working in the unit. Ask your traveler who else he/she has met in the unit, or during orientation, and how they are liking their agencies and recruiters, if there’s anyone who is having a difficult time finding their next assignment, etc. Sometimes you just need to get those thought gears going so that your traveler has the a-ha moment, “Oh yeah! I should totally mention you!”

Give Them Regular Updates When They DO Refer People

One of the best things you can do when you start getting referrals is to keep your traveler updated on the progress of the referral. That way, they know how close they are to getting that sweet referral bonus, and they’ll be more likely to refer people to you who are going to commit to the process of doing paperwork. They know that you actually follow through and contact the referrals when they’re given to you. They can also act as your liaison if your referral isn’t following through. I know I’d be harassing my friends to do their paperwork if they were holding me up from getting my money!

And finally – Just ask.

One of the biggest things that holds up recruiters from getting referrals is that they’re just simply not asking for them. Don’t assume that referrals are at the forefront of your travelers’ minds. They have a ton of other stuff going on that they are focused on. Also, please don’t think that asking for referrals is being pushy. When you take great care of your travelers, they want to help you out. It’s the concept of reciprocity. When people do right by us, we want to do right by them. So, get over yourself and just ask, already!

What other tips or tricks do you have for getting referrals? I would love to hear your feedback, and any key takeaways you’ve gotten from this post. Happy recruiting!

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