The Importance of Capitalizing on General Referrals
Back in April, we answered a very important question in our monthly newsletter: What do you have that other dentists don’t?
The answer: your patients!
Over the next several weeks, we’ll be discussing how your relationship with your valued patients can work for you when it comes to growing your practice. This week, we’re focusing on the importance of capitalizing on general referrals.
As a dentist, referrals can make up a large portion of your patient base. When you receive a referral, you should follow up quickly to take advantage of the patient’s interest. Capitalizing on general referrals accomplishes two things: (1) brings new patients into your practice and (2) encourages current patients to express and share what they like about the care and service they receive with both your office and their network of friends, family, and acquaintances.
When someone is referred to you, don’t take a passive approach. After all, a referral doesn’t become a patient until he or she is in your dental chair. Once a referral rolls in, the potential patient should be contacted by your team within 48 hours. If possible, find out what services the potential patient is looking for and, better yet, schedule an appointment for as soon as both your schedule and the patient’s schedule allows. This prompt, friendly phone call gives the potential new patient the impression that you and your team are very eager to help him or her achieve improved oral health and that you value the business. Remember, this call is the patient’s first official interaction with your office, so show him or her that you are a friendly, welcoming, and professional practice that has the best interests of your patients in mind.
We always recommend that our clients take steps to encourage referrals. An easy way to do this is by word of mouth as your patients check out after their appointments. Be sure to have contact information (such as business cards) readily available to make it as easy as possible for your patients to pass your name along. As a patient is checking out at the front desk, remind them that you are available to help any of their friends or family members improve their smiles.
An effective way to encourage referrals is to offer a referral program or promotion. For current patients who refer a friend or family member who schedules an appointment, consider providing a discounted or complimentary service or consultation. Gift cards and gift certificates are also good incentives. In doing so, you can improve the chances of current patients reaching out to the people in their lives who are looking for a new dentist. This type of program also works when trying to garner online reviews from current patients.
If your practice is active on social media (which we highly recommend for dental practices looking to improve their SEO) , routine posts on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are great ways to get the word out that you’re accepting referrals. Make these posts interesting and friendly — maybe even using a photo when possible. The more shareworthy these posts are, the more engagement you’re likely to receive, and the more people will see your calls for referrals in their social media feeds!