Making The Ask - Executing a Successful Patient Referral Program

posted on Thursday, March 9, 2017

Referral MarketingHow can dental practices attract new patients? The most logical answer is to ask existing patients for a referral. But why are so many dental practices ‘shy’ when it comes to asking their patients for a referral?

According to a Dental Practice Success Survey last year, 49.4% of readers wanted to attract new patients. The most effective way to do this is to implement a referral marketing program.

According to a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, referral marketing brings in more than 60% of new patients compared to other marketing efforts.

Referral marketing can be in the form of provider referral programs and/or patient referral programs. Dental specialties like oral surgery, orthodontics and periodontics will rely heavily on general dentist referrals. This type of referral marketing involves a strategic plan to reach referring dentists. Think referral packets with an overview of your practice, services, providers, payment and insurance education and of course a referral slip. Special events, luncheons and open houses work too.

Patient referral programs are common in general dentistry practices. Questions to consider: Do you offer an incentive or no incentive? Do you reward the patient giving the referral and/or the new patient as well? When it comes to special discounts and rewards just make sure you check your particular state guidelines when it comes to patient discounts and awards as every state has different regulations.

Regardless of what you do, your referral program has to be visible and communicated often and in multiple channels. According to an article in Dentistry IQ, 40-60% of current patients will refer at least one new patient a year if you tell them about the referral program. Start with the basics:

  1. First, create a program
  2. Promote it at the front desk with signage, flyers and referral slips
  3. Share the program in your social media, website, blogs, e-newsletters and more
  4. Consider a referral direct mail piece to your existing patients
  5. Utilize your patient messaging system and create patient thank you/referral emails
  6. Promote online reviews to spread positive testimonials

In the meantime make sure to register for our webinar on March 21, “Wait a Minute, I’m a Dentist, Not a Marketer,” to learn more marketing ideas to improve your practice marketing.

And take a couple minutes to check out some of our dental marketing work.

  1. patient referrals
  2. referral marketing