Make a Dental Patient a Referral Source

March 1, 2010    By Lisa Klinghoffer Buber

Smart dental specialists know that word-of-mouth is often the most effective and the least expensive way of generating new business. With a little bit of planning and extra effort, you can easily develop a wellspring of new patients by establishing a referral network that works tirelessly for your dental practice seven days a week.

A key point to remember: you must ask for referrals, or they won’t happen. Of course, some of your dental patients will refer their family and friends to your practice without even being prompted to do so. When you proactively ask your dental patients to provide new referrals and then motivate them with incentives, you’ll see even better results. Just imagine what a small token of appreciation – such as a restaurant gift certificate or discount coupon with a local merchant – could do to help increase your referral volume. Be sure to promote your referral program through in-office signage, invoice envelope inserts, e-mail blasts, or even a dedicated postcard mailing or web site page.

Referrals can also be derived from partnerships with other businesses and healthcare practitioners  in your geographic market. For example, a local medical clinic, a gym, a health food store or even a real estate agency could all become excellent sources of referrals. Consider other types of businesses within your community with whom you could forge symbiotic relationships.

It’s critical that your referral program utilize a tracking system that facilitates continual monitoring of what’s working and what’s not working. Whether you use computer software or a simple index card system, your system must be able to identify where your best referrals are coming from. It can also serve as a “to do” list to ensure that you extend appropriate thanks to each referral source.

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