A person making a referral to someone else to join their recovery alumni.

Everything Alumni Managers Need to Know about Referrals

Last Updated: Thu, March 28, 2024

It is no secret that referrals are among the best ways to keep new patients coming to your rehab center. This refers to when past patients complete their treatment and later recommend your center to someone they know who is also struggling with addiction. It is one of the most organic forms of marketing since you do not have to do anything to get these new patients.

As the alumni manager, one of your core responsibilities is cultivating referrals and understanding how to get more. This is because you are working directly with patients who have gone through their treatment and have now become part of the recovery community. So, keep reading to learn everything you need about referrals and how you can naturally increase them.

Why Referrals Matter

The first thing we need to discuss is why patient referrals are so crucial for outpatient rehab centers. It is easy to overlook how important they are, especially if you have a strong focus on marketing. But the reality is that there are several different levels to marketing, and referrals are part of that tier.

Here are some examples of why referrals matter for the alumni program and the rehab center.

Organic Marketing

As we mentioned above, referrals are a part of marketing since they help bring in new patients. This is a type of organic marketing since the rehab center does not have to use any resources to actually find these patients. 

Better Targeting

An important part of marketing to find your ideal patient involves targeting a specific group of people that you believe would be your ideal patient. By doing this, you are making sure no resources are wasted on people who would not be suitable for the rehab center.

Oftentimes, when another patient refers someone else, this creates a more authentic referral. This is because the person usually refers a friend or family member they already know well. This can result in more successful referrals where the patient actually signs up and goes through treatment.

Community Reputation

Even if some referrals don't result in new patients, they are still very beneficial for the rehab center. Referrals are a word-of-mouth marketing technique where previous patients are recommending the services that the center provides. This creates free marketing that has a bit more value since people are more likely to trust someone who isn't affiliated with the center.

Referrals can boost the center's community reputation as more people become aware of what it provides. People will also trust it more if it's clear that past patients were happy with the treatment they received.

Builds Loyalty

Getting new patients is a challenge, especially if other outpatient rehab centers are available nearby. When someone is referred to the center, they will automatically have a bit more loyalty than they would if they found it on their own. This is because they trust the person who referred them and already know what you provide. They have already received a testimonial from the person who referred them about what the program did for their life.

Tips For Alumni Managers on Increasing Referrals

Now that you understand why referrals are so important for outpatient rehab centers, you now have the challenge of getting those referrals. This is easier said than done since this is not necessarily something you have full control over. Referrals are organic, but there are a few things you can do to promote this in your alumni program.

Create an Inclusive Experience

One of the best ways to encourage your alumni members to refer to other people is by giving them a great experience. You want to create an inclusive alumni program where everyone feels involved, and there is something that everyone will enjoy.

You can create inclusive alumni program events that cater to every kind of person in the group. Or you can make sure you are crafting activities that help those struggling with different addictions.

Always Stay in Touch

The most important part of being an alumni manager is keeping in touch with everyone who has gone through the center. You need to make sure you have an updated database where everybody's information is uploaded, and you have a schedule that helps you keep track of who you have contacted. Remember, there is a fine line between being friendly and keeping in touch without bothering people.

Patients will be much more likely to refer to other people if they feel that they have been well taken care of by the rehab center staff. By continuing to keep in touch with them, you are showing them that they are a valued and essential part of the community.

Make sure your interactions with everyone feel natural and easy, where you can form genuine connections. You can also try to match different patients up with one another who you think would get along and benefit each other's recovery journey.

Encourage Feedback

Many patients may forget to leave feedback or don't want to put themselves out there by voicing how they feel. As the alumni manager, you want to make sure everyone feels that they can express their opinions freely.

You can encourage patients to provide feedback through polls, surveys, or by leaving online reviews. Make sure everyone feels that they can voice any concerns if they believe there is something about the center or a treatment program that could be improved.


One of the tricky things about being an alumni manager is increasing the amount of referrals the rehab center gets. There is no guaranteed way of doing this since every patient is different, and there are many things outside of your control. However, there are certain things you can include in the alumni program to make it more inclusive and interactive so that patients are more likely to refer others.

We provide the tools you need to stay in people's minds, get feedback, and increase engagement with our free tools. If you'd like to try out our tools, you can get started now.

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