Internal marketing has proven to be the most cost-effective and successful way to acquire new patients and grow your practice. And you should have a referral program at the heart of your internal marketing efforts, because your current patients’ recommendations to others do more to build your patient list than you can do on your own.
Assuming that you’re already providing an excellent patient experience, here are a few tips to drive those referrals:
- Ask for them! Sounds simple, but many practices admit that despite good intentions of requesting referrals, they fail to actually follow through. Patients may not realize you’re accepting new patients or it may not occur to them to spread the word about their great experience with your office. Commit to actively asking your patients to refer their friends and family to your practice. Generate compliments from patients by asking “How was your experience today?” Respond to their positive reply with a polite referral request.
- Implement a Patient Referral Program. Get a plan in place and get your whole team on board by setting daily or weekly goals. For instance, during your morning huddle commit to identifying two patients each day you will ask for a referral from. The next day, discuss the results of yesterday’s referral conversations. Be sure your referral program includes recognition of your referring patients—let them know how much you appreciate their referrals.
- Develop Patient Referral Program materials. Display materials at the front desk, in your waiting room, in operatories, and hygiene rooms. They provide a great lead-in for your team to mention the referral program to patients as they come in for a visit. Drop referrals cards in your hygiene bags, attach to walkout statements, and include in patient correspondence. Don’t forget to include your Patient Referral Program details on your website.
- Be selective. Be thoughtful about who you ask for referrals. Remember that like attracts like, so identify your favorite patients and tell them “We’re always happy to see more patients like you. If it’s ok, I’d like to give you a few referral cards to share with your family and friends.” Make a list of your “top 200” patients and target your referral efforts on them.
- Bottom line. Just start asking!
Ken Mathys, CPA
Founder & Principal
Dental Practice Advisors