The most common challenge facing dental practices today is how to get new patients. With higher insurance premiums and the escalating cost of dental work, many people are opting to postpone treatment or even avoid going to the dentist altogether. In such a scenario, it’s not surprising that dentists are struggling to get more patients into their practice.
Marketing options such as billboards, flyers etc are not only expensive, they also do not guarantee results. The most effective method of increasing patient flow is still word-of-mouth, where a new patient walks into your practice because you were recommended by someone they know. Such a client is likely to trust your office more than a person who just picked your name out at random. Many dentists know this but are not able to increase referrals because they do not have a systematic approach.
The first step in increasing patient referrals is to ensure that your existing clients have a good experience in your office. Quite naturally, a client who has had a bad experience dealing with your staff will not refer their friends. Make sure that you see your patients on time and do not keep them waiting, giving them the impression that you do not care about your existing clients or that you’re too busy to see new ones. Your goal should be to make sure that anyone who enters into your clinic walks out with a smile (figuratively speaking given that we’re talking about dentists here!)
Once you’ve created a favorable impression, it is easy to ask for a referral. While many dentists hesitate to do so for fear of making the patient uncomfortable, most people are happy to refer their family and friends to a dentist that they trust. Often the best time to ask for a referral is when they have just paid a compliment since it shows that they already think highly of you.
Another strategy that you can use is to create a strong referral program. You can hand out tokens or cards which have your practice name on it to your clients. Tell them that they will get points every time they refer a friend which can then be exchanged for gift cards to popular cafés or movie theaters. You can also give personalized gift items such as hand lotion, pens etc. with your logo. It will serve as indirect advertising whenever your client uses one in front of others.
These are just a few ways in which to attract clients through referrals. A personal recommendation can go a long way in getting a new patient when even the best marketing strategy has failed.