12 Jan How to increase your new patient numbers through referrals
In times of economic uncertainty, it is important to be aware of what’s going on in the world around you, but don’t be held hostage by it. It is also an important time to be clear on our role as dental professionals. During times of stress, dental health can suffer. A combination of unhealthy habits and financial concerns can lead to neglect and dental disease. It is our responsibility to remind our patients of the importance of dental health during challenging times. They may not choose the options we present to them, but if we say nothing at all we take their choice away.
Advertising and marketing are important in letting prospective patients know that we exist. Restrictions and ethics prevent us from publicly advertising what sets us apart, however. This responsibility lies on our shoulders and should be discussed with each patient who walks through the door. Patients and prospective patients won’t know what we offer if we don’t tell them. The goal is to wow each patient and give them the confidence to refer their friends and family.
The health of a practice is ultimately determined by retention, not new patient flow. A practice can have an influx of new patients…whether they stay active is another story. Prospective patients are at choice. There are many dentists to choose from. If they choose us, we want them to stay!
Asking for a referral can feel awkward. It is less awkward to praise a team member. For example, it feels more natural for a Dental Hygienist to praise the Dentist’s skills than it does to praise their own. If a patient shares with the Dental Hygienist how good their crown feels, it’s an opportunity for the RDH (in that moment) to say “that’s great to hear. You’re definitely in good hands with Dr. Smith.” At the end of the appt when the patient is upright, the conversation can be “We truly value patients like you. If you have a friend or family member in need of a dentist, feel free to give them our card.” Use your own words, but this should be the message they receive.
The Dentist and the dental team can do the same with a patient who raves about another team member. The admin team should be in the habit of asking each patient how their appointment went…this is a nice lead in to handing out a business card. A tried-and-true method is to have a tear away card which allows the patient to keep one half for themselves and give the second half to a friend or colleague.
Set a goal at the morning meeting to ask one person in each chair for a referral. This is a pressure – free way to try on a new skill. It will eventually feel more natural.
Remember also to ensure today’s patients are scheduled for their next hygiene and outstanding restorative appointments. Check that their family members are scheduled for their next hygiene appointments.
Each new patient must be asked how they heard about the office. This information is recorded in their chart to track the effectiveness of the internal referrals and the external marketing efforts. A report is generated monthly detailing the referral sources.
Asking for referrals is the most effective method for generating new patients.
To learn more, give us a call.
Our team of Dental Consultants, at Tayden Consulting Inc., specialize in providing,
hands-on, on-site coaching on how to create the optimal experience
for your patients.
Contact us today for a free consultation! We look forward to meeting you.