Most behavioral health facilities have terrible alumni programs.

The problem is that most facilities don’t know how to create systems and processes to better communicate with their alumni and provide resources to ensure that their past clients continue living a healthy life.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

One of the biggest pain points for alumni programs is the ability to keep the data organized. Most alumni coordinators manage their contacts through a hybrid system that combines a CRM (which should really be used by the admissions and marketing team) and Google Sheets.

This creates bottlenecks in the system, overwhelmed alumni coordinators, missed opportunities for re admissions and a lower qualify of care.

No one wins in that situations.

Luckily, there is a better way.

Introducing Five Oak Alumni Platform

Five Oak helps you get faster feedback, better reviews, and more revenue. Essentially, it’s a SaaS product that allows you to easily manage your alumni, send text messages to them, and send requests to increase your 5 star reviews in Google My Business.

In my view, there are 4 major benefits to the software

1. Replace Manual Effort with Automation

As I said before, one of the pain points for any alumni program is the manual labor that most facilities put into it. While it’s obvious that the alumni department needs to be personally involved in the well being of the patients, that doesn’t mean there aren’t way to leverage software that can do the heavy lifting for you.

For instance, Five Oak gives you the capability to automatically send surveys every 30 / 60 and 90 days. The surveys are beneficial for two reasons …

First, they give you real time and accurate feedback which means you can constantly make improvements to your treatment process, your employees, and the service you deliver to your patients.

Second, it gives you real time analytics to how well your graduated clients are doing. These surveys make it easy to understand who is staying on target with their recovery plan and who may be in need of extra resources and assistance.

2. An Easy to Use Text Messaging Platform to Help You Communicate with Your Alumni

We have experimented with a few different ways to communicate with alumni. The most common means of communication is Facebook groups.

However, Facebook is not ideal for alumni coordination. Facebook has terrible reach, so if you’re posting resources into a Facebook group, only a small percentage of the followers will see the content. In addition, the response rate in Facebook groups is traditionally low.

In addition, we have also experimented with email.

The fact is that email newsletters are the best way to give resources to alumni. This could include announcements for alumni events, new articles, location based resources, etc.

But when it comes to direct communication on a one to one basis, text messaging is the best option for you.

Five Oak has an “in-platform” dashboard that handles all of your texting in one place. In addition, it allows you to keep notes on your conversations (including the surveys) so you’re always up to date on the status of your graduated patients.

It’s a simple and elegant solution.

3. Collect More Google Reviews

Google My Business is one of the best “bang for your buck” marketing options. It’s always shocking to me how few facilities take advantage of Google My Business. It’s relatively low effort in comparison to PPC and SEO, but the results that can be generated through Google My Business can completely generate massive leads and admissions.

Five Oak makes it easy to request reviews. More specifically, you can automate the process with the click of a button.

It’s a great feature and one that can make a huge difference to your marketing and your admissions rate.

For more about how the Five Oak process works, watch the video below.

Alumni Should Be Treated as a Marketing Department

At it’s core, your alumni department is a way for you to continue serving your patients after they have graduated from your facility and entered back into daily life.

Although a good aftercare program is the right thing to do, it’s also good business.

How Alumni Creates Word of Mouth Admissions

Let’s imagine a client attends your facility, let’s call her Jane.

When Jane goes home and enters the real world, do you think she will come across other people who struggle with addiction? Do you think she has family members, friends, colleuges or even future relationships who will ask her about her recovery and for advice?

Of course she will. It’s practically a statistical certainty. So wouldn’t you want Jane to leave your facility with all the resources possible? Wouldn’t her own personal story of recovery be an indication of the good work you do at your facility?

Word of mouth marketing is a major factor in generated quality admissions to your facility. So a great alumni program is a great marketing department.

Now, I realize that there isn’t always a causational relationship between a strong alumni program and new admissions. Word of mouth can be difficult to measure. But that doesn’t mean your alumni program can’t drive direct admissions.

How Alumni Creates Direct Referrals

Let’s talk hard data.

On average, 15% of your admissions should be generated from your alumni department.

An unfortunate truth about behavioral health disorders is that not everyone finds long term recovery on their first try. (I know I didn’t.)

In the unfortunate case of a client relapse, wouldn’t you want to be the person who that client calls when he or she is ready to revisit treatment? You are morally obligated to extend yourself to the patients who may have relapsed. This is why staying connected to your graduated patients is so important.

As soon as a relapse occurs (whether it be drug abuse, eating disorders or even a mental health episode) you want to be front and center to provide the help, resources, and treatment to that patient. It’s your ethical responsibility to remain a part of your alumni’s journey, for so long as they are in need of the resources.

Once again, your alumni department is serving many purposes. You are doing the right thing by continuing to be there for the people who need help the most, and you are making a smart business investment by creating a program that generates leads and readmissions.

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    Tim Stoddart

    Tim Stoddart is the CEO of Stodzy Internet Marketing. He lives in Nashville with his wife and hit adorable pitbull, Alice. Tim loves to write about digital marketing and personal growth. You can learn more at

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