Ask any doctor, "What is the best way to get new patients?" and almost all of them will give you the same answer: patient referrals. Patient referrals are not only the most effective way to get new business but they generally deliver the most ideal type of patient. So what is the best way to consistently generate referrals?
Are my patients happy with their dental experience at my practice? This is the most important question you can ask when thinking of generating referrals is: If a patient is happy with their experience, they will be happy to give a referral. If a patient is unhappy, they will not only not give you a referral, but they will probably tell others about the experience that made them unhappy. Think of any time you have been happy with a service experience. If the people responsible for that experience asked you to refer someone to them you would be glad to. Many dentists fear asking for referrals or setting up a referral program because they feel they might be perceived as "pushy" or too "salesy." If your patients are happy, they won't feel this way at all.
We recommend to most dentists that they print a small brochure that highlights the referral program and offers incentives to patients that give referrals. Try to offer incentives that result in a fun experience, such as a gift certificate for dinner or the movies, or even send flowers or chocolates. These types of incentives will better endear the patient to you because of the experience and good emotions associated with them. An offer to give your patients a discount on their treatment, or money towards their bill can be useful, but it will not generate the same level of participation for most patients. Train your staff to ask every patient for a referral by explaining the benefits of your program, and get in the habit of soliciting patient feedback surveys as well. Anonymous surveys allow patients to speak to you honestly so you really know if your patients are having a good experience. Either give your patients a printed survey, or better yet, direct them to your web site and have them fill it out on line. eCentral from Henry Schein is a great tool for this. The return on investment for this type of referral program is well worth it because your expenses are contingent on servicing a new patient. In other words, you don't pay for the marketing until you have received payment from the new patient. You can't lose.
If all of this hinges on happy patients, then how do you ensure that your patients are happy? We'll talk about that in the next newsletter. To create an effective referral program, or learn more, call Dental Branding and speak to one of our consultants at 1-866-375-5511, or visit: www.dentalbranding.com.