Generating Patient Referrals
THE NEXT DDS
Patient referrals are among the easiest (and cheapest!) ways
to increase the patient flow and, ultimately, the size of your future practice.
However, the concept of “training” your patients to become walking, talking
billboards for your practice can be a foreign concept to new dental professionals.
70 to 80% of your patient base should come from patient referrals, but many
dentists do not take full advantage of this invaluable resource. This article
will give some advice that will help prepare you to use patient referrals in
your future practice.
You’ve spent years in dental school learning to tend to your
patients’ oral health; not necessarily learning business and marketing
strategies. In your future practice, it would be wise to begin by tempering
your expectations for referrals. Just think, if you can get each patient to
give one referral, you will have
doubled the size of your practice!
Don’t be afraid to
Remember, many patients don’t know that you are looking for
new patients; they came to your office to have some dentistry done and get on
with their day as quickly as possible. Simply reminding a patient after their
initial visit with a phrase such as “We are always looking for new patients,
tell your friends or family to come by for a check up” can do wonders.
Make it personal
Your initial impression with a patient could be the most
important factor that determines his or her future with your practice. Focus on
getting to know your new patients during their first visit. Ask them something
personal and pay attention to their response. Make a script and use the same
one for every new patient if it helps you feel more comfortable. Some good
questions for new patients might include:
you grow up in this area?
do you do for a living?
is one thing I should know about you?
did you not like about your last dentist?
did you hear about our practice?
You should try to do something that sets you apart from
other dentists and makes your patient feel special. A hand-written note after
an initial visit or a follow-up phone call will remind your patient about the
good experience they had at your office. Remember to encourage them to spread
the word about your practice!
Out with the old, in
with the new
The days of print marketing are quickly coming to an end. Websites
are becoming easier and easier to build and maintain. Your practice should havea strong web presence including patient testimonials and appointment forms. Learn a little bit about
search engine optimization to take advantage of everything the web has to offer, or simply make a one-time
payment to have a great website designed by a professional.
Having an active presence on Social Media platforms are an easy (and potentially free) way to generate publicity for your
practice. Set up social media accounts for your practice on all the major
outlets (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc). Encourage your
patients to “Like” your practice on Facebook or to “Follow” your practice or
personal Twitter feed for helpful tips and reminders about oral health. Leave
materials in your waiting room reminding patients about these platforms, and
give them a reason to check them out like 10% off their first visit, or a free
These are just a few quick tips to help you take advantage
of patient referrals. Some of these things may come more naturally to some of
you than others, but referral marketing is a skill that every dentist should
work on during their years in practice.