4 tricks to increase patient referrals

Your patients want to talk to about you, but are you giving them chance to do it?

Your mother always told you that if can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all. Isn’t it funny that often we apply this same principle even when we have something good to say about someone?

For as many negative things that tend to cross our minds about someone or something, there are as many good thoughts or compliments that are never shared. It’s the same for your patients. They may have a thousand great things to say about your practice that they never share with friends or family. In my experience, they’d be more than happy to let people know how great you are - if only you’d ask. Your goal should be to create positive interactions with patients that let them know how much you appreciate them and their referrals.

Read more: Why patient referrals are key to growing your practice

Your patients will always be happy to refer if they are motivated and stimulated to do it. Patients respond positively to outreach education, communication and fun. Use these strategies to ramp up your number of positive patient interactions:

Provide educational materials in the practice

Patients should see and receive educational material at every visit. Brochures, flyers and posters that highlight your services, technology and hygiene care will help promote your brand to patients and provide them with valuable information that they can share with family and friends.  While social media, email and text messages certainly have their place, nothing replaces the potential effectiveness of real human contact - a staff member placing something into the hands of a patient and looking them in the eye to make a positive impression.

Create a fun environment

Your office doesn’t always have to be just about cleanings, crowns and (heaven forbid) cavities. Make it fun. Hold raffles for movie tickets or gift cards throughout the year. Create theme days for Valentine’s Day or Halloween. Give surprise token gifts to all patients. With a little creativity, your practice can be a place that patients look forward to visiting.

Communicate with all patients monthly

Remember, most patients only visit your practice every six months, which doesn’t leave much opportunity to make an impact. Every month, you should strive to communicate with patients. With their permission, email brief and positive updates on dentistry, practice news, services, etc. You can also keep in touch with patients by calling them at night to follow up on their visits, and texting welcome messages to new patients within 10 minutes after scheduling their appointments.

Reach out on social media

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat offer convenient, easy and fun ways to reach out to patients. Encourage them to follow you on these social media platforms to get updates on the practice and learn interesting dental information.

Related article: How to fail (and succeed) at marketing

Using these strategies will encourage your patients but keep in mind that you still have to ask for referrals. Whether you let patients know that you appreciate referrals through a powerful statement included in all of your print and online communications or you ask them directly, you need to reach patients in many different ways.


In a complex world with data-driven marketing, this type of relationship program may seem simplistic. Still, it works. Use this program to help increase patient referrals and your practice be primed for success.