For an established dental practice, the majority (some say more that 70%) of your new patient growth should come from patient referrals. If that isn't happening, it's time to put a dental referral system in place. Creating a dental referral process takes a little bit of time but can have a huge ROI for your practice.
Here are a few ideas to increase dental referrals:
Ask for Referrals
Studies have shown that 83% of customers say they would refer a positive experience but only 29% actually do. That means that you just need to ask your patients to do it. If your patients didn't think you were a good dentist, they wouldn't keep coming back. The fact that they do come back says they continue to have a positive experience with you and your team. Make it part of your hand-off strategy to encourage your patients to leave a review. Put referral cards in their toothbrush goodie bag for them to hand out. Even asking them for an online review can help refer people to your practice that they may have never met.
Give Patients Something to Talk About
Are you launching a new service? Do you hav
e teeth whitening specials you're going to run soon? Give your current patients something to talk about that will inspire them to refer their friends and family. Not only is it good for SEO, but by making it available on social media with nice graphics they can share and tag their friends on. Who knows, you may even schedule them for an additional appointment if the special is something they need or want as well!
Have a Strong Online Presence
According to a study by AACD, 90% of the time a patient found a practice by either word-of-mouth (63%) and Internet search (27%). When your patients refer you to their friends and family, they are going to show them who you are with your online presence. I guarantee they will pull out their phone and look up your website, google you, find you on Yelp, or search other social media channels. If they can't find you, that is going to be a problem. Most people research everything before buying these days and medical services are no different. Make sure you show up on maps in local searches and present yourself well with up-to-date information, good reviews, and ways to easily contact your practice.
Be aware of Patient Referral Laws
You have to be careful when creating a dental referral program for patients. There are Federal laws and State laws that you need to abide by. For example, in California the CDA states, "under the California Business and Professions Code Section 650, dentists cannot offer or accept anything of value as compensation or inducement for the referral of a patient."
These laws vary from state-to-state but there are Federal laws like the Stark Law and Anti-Kick Back Act that limit certain types of activity. Check with your lawyer before launching any patient referral programs or patient loyalty programs. There are many dental referral program ideas out there. Just make sure to keep it legal!
Referral marketing for your dental practice should be a major part of your overall marketing strategy. You can't ignore the effectiveness of patient referrals. It is how most dental practices get their growth. If you haven't tried referral marketing, give it a shot and see what happens. Just start by asking your patients and employees to refer their friends to you and track it. You may be surprised with the results!
Referral marketing is one aspect of a dental marketing plan. Get our step-by-step guide to new patient acquisition with our free Dental Marketing Blueprint. Learn how to market your practice in different ways that attract the people you want to your practice.