If there’s one thing every dental practice needs to grow, it’s patients in the chair. Some need more patients. Others need patients in need of higher-fee dentistry. And others need more fee-for-service patients.
If you’re worried about where your next patient is going to come from, rest assured that you are likely just one or two referral strategies away from growth. These are three of my favorite ways for dental practices to get patient referrals.
1. Tell a story that’s easy to share.
When you talk about your practice in marketing materials, with patients, or in the community, are you telling a story that’s easy to share? If not, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to get current patients and others to promote your practice for you. Make it really easy for people to talk about you and your practice and they will start doing so.
For example, we want people to talk about my practice as being somewhere patients look forward to going. So we focus on creating an incredible experience and also give patients ways to talk about that experience. One way we do so is by giving new patients an office tour and a chance to connect with a team member one-on-one. During that meeting, our team member talks about our core values and shows them the cool and fun technology we invest in to provide the best care possible. We make it simple for them to understand what makes us special.
When doing this in your practice, point out the details to your patients and why those details matter to them. You can say things like:
- We invest in these items to create a spalike experience for you and help you relax.
- At the end of your treatment, we’ll give you a warm peppermint-scented towel to refresh you.
- While you’re waiting, you can flip through our coffee-table books.
- All of the artwork in the office was done by local artists.
Let your team members show their personality. If they’re talking about the practice’s core values, they can share what means the most to them, and why. If they’re showing the coffee table books or the office art, they can point out one they particularly like or share an interesting fact about one of the local artists. When they’re talking about the overall experience, they can relate their own stories of dental anxiety — and how they moved past it.
2. Ask patients for referrals.
One of the biggest mistakes dentists make is not asking for referrals. It doesn’t need to be awkward or rude to do so, either. Whether a patient has come in for the first time or the 50th time, we highly recommend asking for referrals. It’s totally natural to ask for referrals, even from brand new patients, especially if you are investing so much time and energy to create a WOW experience for your patients.
At the end of each appointment, ask your patient, “Did you have a good experience today?” They’re highly likely to say yes. When they do, it’s completely natural to then ask for that referral. Help them out by calling to mind specific people they can refer to you. For example, we give patients two business cards and ask them to give them to friends, family, coworkers, or a new neighbor who might enjoy a similar dental experience. It’s that simple. You can also ask patients to post about their experience on Facebook and tag your practice. Many patients will happily share a post about their experience.
3. Create a patient referral program.
Encourage patients to refer people to you by creating a referral program. Give them coupons or gift certificates they can give to friends and family and they will likely be even more delighted to refer people to you.
Give your program a fun name, like Share a Smile or The Smile Exchange, and make sure that every person on your team tells patients about the program. For example, you could have your team members tell new patients that you have a referral program that your patients love because it allows them to share their WOW experience with loved ones while giving them something of value like a coupon or gift certificate. That message will get them starting to think about who would be a good person to refer to your practice. Then, at the end, hand them the coupon or gift certificate after asking about their experience.
Are you ready to get more patient referrals to your dental practice?
Patient referrals validate everything we do as a practice and keep us consistently growing without any marketing required. We just treat people well and they refer other people to us. That’s the ultimate compliment about the experience we work so hard to create.
It all starts with treating patients to a truly WOW visit and putting in place simple strategies to get them thinking about referring others to you.
If you want to learn about more ways to grow your practice, make sure to join our upcoming dental practice Marketing and Practice Growth Challenge.
And if you want to join a community of Dental Bosses just like you, I have a Facebook group where over 1000 Dental Bosses are already learning and growing. Join us in the Dental Boss Movement Facebook group if you want support and training as you grow your dental practice.