A dental referral program is quite likely the number one most important form of marketing for a dental practice. Receiving a large quantity of referrals tell you a lot about the success of your practice. If you are not getting any referrals or just a few here and there, chances are you are doing something wrong and your patients are not happy with their experience.
I talk to many practices and it surprises me how many times they tell me that they don’t do any form of dental advertising just “word of mouth” but when asked, they don’t have a referral program. Really what it says, is they don’t know what to do so it is best to do nothing and hope for the best.
What I am getting at, is that most dentist can greatly increase word of mouth to get new patients if they have a dental referral program or plan in place. Below you will learn about the 5 steps to developing a dental referral program.
(1) When devising a plan work backwards through the patient experience: The overwhelming majority of patients will refer shortly after having an exceptional experience with your practice. A few will always refer, but most have a honeymoon period where they will do most of their referring within the first year after they become a patient. Now let’s work backwards through the customer experience. What has to happen to make them refer?
- A consistent, flawless experience with each repeat visit
- An clear understanding of what cost are involved and no surprises with the billing
- Fixed the dental issues without any severe discomfort at a fair price for their services
- A team of professional who read your individual concerns and preference and over delivered on their promise e.g. if you need to leave in 45 minutes they get you out the door in 40 minutes.
- A soft easy going approach to becoming a patient without being oversold services
- A nice comfortable and pleasant environment
- Building trust with testimonials and helpful educational materials
- Easy to contact with a friendly, caring and competent support team that answers all your questions
(2) Look inside your business and fix those shortfalls: As we look at the touch points with our prospective patients what can we do to improve their experience so their visit goes smoothly and they are pleasantly surprised.
- Take new patients on a quick tour and introduce them to the staff. Schedule a few minutes for them to meet the doctor before they set their first appointment.
- Give them a new patient kit with everything they need to know about the practice and include a new patient gift
- Call before their first visit to make sure they know how excited you are to see them
- Get them right in and ask what you can do to make them more comfortable
- Explain what you are going to do and make sure they fully understand the treatment
- Walk them out and make sure you have all the items to take payment or invoice them accurately
- Have the doctor make a follow up call to make sure their first visit went well and answer any questions they may have
- Have the entire staff send a signed welcome card
(3) Ask new patients for referrals: In the new patient kit devote a page to referrals. Tell them who you are looking for so they refer the right type of patients. Also, ask them for referrals in person. Tell them you know they are going to be so happy with your service they will want to refer their family, friends and coworkers. Ask them to think of three people who could use your services, because next time they are in you are going to see who they thought of.
(4) Make it easy for them to refer: Give them referral cards to pass out. Have them sign the back and give to the people they have in mind. If the referral comes in, treat the new patient like a VIP. Call the person that referred and personally thank them.
(5) Reward them for sending you referrals: Follow your call up with a card and include a gift certificate for $25-$50. Track who refers patients to you militantly. Once they refer 5 people give them a bonus. The more they refer increase their reward. Be on the lookout for “Mavens”, who will end up referring most of your patients.
Download these great referral notecards to impress your patients: