It's well known that word-of-mouth referrals are one of the best ways to generate new patients to your dental practice. But what's the best way to do that? Dr. Roger Levin shares some ideas.
The continued health and growth of your practice depends on you bringing in a substantial number of new patients, year-in and year-out. There are basically two ways to generate this influx of new candidates for the oral health services you provide. You can advertise for them in some way, or you can promote personal referrals, which involves one person who knows you and your practice (usually a current patient) telling acquaintances that they should come to you for dental care.
Referral marketing brings in more new patients (63% of them, according to a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry), and it’s by far the most cost-effective. For this reason, we at Levin Group always advise our consulting clients and other dentists to focus primarily on referral programs, backed up by a strong online presence, which I’ll explain here. These insights should help you get on the right track.
1. Forty percent to 60% of your current patients will refer at least one new patient a year, if you give them the right encouragement.
I’ll bet that if I asked any of your patients they’d say you’re a great dentist. They wouldn’t come to you if they didn’t think so. But how often will anyone actually ask for a recommendation? Even someone who really needs a dentist probably won’t bring it up at the right time with the right family member, friend, or coworker.
Your challenge is to make more of your loyal patients proactive about referrals. Do this with special promotions, such as free exams for friends they refer, and use positive reinforcement for those who send new patients your way, such as personal thank you notes for example.
2.When seeing current patients, make a point of mentioning special services that new patients might be interested in.
Word-of-mouth works best when your patients have something good to talk about, like you offering Botox treatment, free oral cancer screenings, or new whitening technology. Display point-of-service materials and script staff members to mention special services to patients. You’ll see both production and new patient numbers increase.
3. Use your website and social media to turn referrals into appointments.
These days, even someone who’s already received a strong referral from a trusted friend will check out your website. The website had better be good or the prospective patient might think twice about visiting your practice. Social media can also help, turning casual interest generated by a friend into a strong desire to get an appointment. Become a part of current patients’ personal social networks, such as on Facebook, and new patients will feel they know you even before they visit your practice.
Find innovative ways to take advantage of cost-effective patient referral strategies, such as those mentioned here, and you should have more than enough new patients for a higher level of practice success.
CE for GPs: Attend Dr. Levin’s “Building the Ultimate Practice”seminarthis year and receive six CE credits.To see his full seminar schedule, go to levingroup.com/gpseminars.