Asking for referrals is so important and one of the best ways to get new patients that pay to stay and then, refer more! It doesnâ€™t get any better than that, and hereâ€™s how you can make it happen.
The best way to keep patients coming back is to make your patient experience so good they'll want to tell everyone they know to use your services!
Word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful and beneficial type of advertising or marketing that you could have for your dental business, for the very simple reason that what others say about you is so much more believable than what you could ever say about yourself! One of the most successful companies on earth knows this and knows this well, and that company is Disney.
When Walt Disney got going on the original Disneyland in 1955 in Anaheim California, when it was still basically a wasteland, Walt Disney himself wrote a marketing principle that was taught to everybody involved with Disney from the top down. It simply said this: “The way to be very successful in marketing is to do what you do so well that people can’t resist telling others about you.”
Focusing on the above paragraph for a second, you and your team need to be asking how can we do what it is that we do in our practice so well, that our patients can’t resist telling others about us!? You have all heard it before - but it is implementing the wow factor in all that you do. Are all of your team members having a great day? Did you run a powerful, successful and correct Morning Huddle? One where all team members including yourself, come away psyched, pumped, and ready to rock and roll! Further, do you have the right people answering the phones? Make sure your team greets your patients when they come through the door with a big hello, saying the patient’s name, and with a big smile on their face. They should also add, “we are so happy to see you; I hope you are having a super day!” You get the idea. Interestingly enough, even though we all know this, very few practitioners take the time to hire the right team members, develop those team members, and put all of this into action. This type of wow factor needs to continue throughout the remaining process of the patient’s time in your practice. How are they brought to the treatment room, how are they treated during treatment, what happens post treatment, and then again to the next visit.
These wow factors throughout the process should be at such a high level that it is better than any wow factor in any other doctor’s office that the patient has ever been to. Taking it a step further, you want to have the experience technically better than any other place the patient has ever been to. Take into consideration everything you can do for the patient and make sure their visit goes as smooth as possible, leaving no doubt that they were given the best care possible.
When this is accomplished you want the patient to be thinking, I want to tell somebody about this amazing experience that I had today. You also want to be able to have that patient have something in hand to give others about your dental practice/business, in addition to their verbal description of your wow factors.
After you ask the right patient or you get an amazing compliment, be prepared to give them a Referral Brochure. This is a 3.5" x 6" trifold color brochure. You therefore have 6 sides to put awesome information on - such as your logo, your brand, tag line(s), your services, your web site, great pictures, a map, your telephone number, about you and your team, hours of operation, your why, etc., etc. - you get the idea. So much more! I use and teach the following verbal skill (being aware that you may have to modify to the situation): “Jennifer, to begin I am so excited to get the compliment that you just gave about my hygienist Stephanie. As you know, we do not advertise per se, and because of that, I would like to give you this brochure that tells others about our practice. When you come across someone that you think fits our practice, would you please give this to them!? And Jennifer, wait until you see what happens when you make that first referral! I want you to know again you made my day, Stephanie’s day, and my team’s day! You rock!”
Asking for referrals and the wow factors is also internal marketing, which is the best marketing in my opinion, and that of others as well. For the most part it also costs you very little and it can have a huge ROI (return on investment). This is also something we are not taught in dental school and it is something that must be learned on our own once we get into practice. It is part of the business practice management plethora of marketing events. Marketing falls for the most part into internal and external marketing. As mentioned, it is in the internal folder of procedures and so effective. It is old school so to speak, and all successful dental CEO’s will tell you it works.
It works in all professions that rely on referrals, period. One of the biggest mistakes that dental practices/businesses make is they simply don’t ask! There is also a misconception that you cannot ask until the case is completed. As an example, if the patient tells you it was the easiest extraction they ever had, they had no pain, and what a great experience, that is the time to ask - even though you may only be halfway done with the case. Finally, don’t forget, we are in a wonderful world of social media. There is no reason that next time you do a Facebook or Instagram live that you can’t simply state that: “We love our patients, my entire team and I will always deliver the best patient experience possible with the best treatment, and no pain. Finally, we love referrals, so please don’t forget to tell your friends about us. They will not be disappointed!”
I personally see so many dental offices spend tons of dollars on external marketing (billboards, TV ads, print ads, social media advertising, etc.) and not that those cannot give you a ROI, but totally forget about internal marketing with asking for referrals at the top of their list. It is also no different than how I see so many offices miss the boat on asking for Google Reviews, which in turn can help with referrals.
When focusing on asking for referrals, it is also important to ask the RIGHT patients for referrals as like will usually refer like. At your Morning Huddle as you look at your schedule and who your patients are, target the right ones that you should ask. As your hygienist(s) go through their schedule target good patients to ask and do the same for the doctor(s) schedule. Also, if you get a compliment from a patient during the day (again it can be a patient complimenting the hygienist(s) or a patient complimenting you, your administrative team, etc.), that is an immediate target/patient to ask for not only a referral but for a 5-star Google review! You all know the phrase, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get!”
Some will find scripting how you ask for referrals easier than others, as this is just a fact that we are all different with different DISC personality profiles. With this the asking and scripting should be rehearsed and worked out at your own version of PBR's, The Pick Business-Team-Building Retreats. A biannual practice/business retreat where you pretend you are a Fortune 500 business. Set aside time to practice how you want your team to ask for referrals and then video record it, so each and every one can see what they look like and how they can improve. Even the ones that think they have it down will be surprised how they can improve after seeing a video of themselves going through the scenario.
Also, when you do get a referral from a patient, don’t forget to personally thank that patient. I personally write a handwritten thank you note on a Thank You card with your office name, custom designed logo, and not only signed by you, but signed by all of your team members. Depending on the referral, include a gift card, such as from Amazon, and conclude or give a P.S. by saying: “Wait until you see what happens when you refer the next patient to us!” On that next patient(s) referral increase the value of the Amazon card, a dinner at a great restaurant, etc., etc. - depending on the number of referrals that patient brings back for you.
You will not be disappointed with this program of asking for referrals. It must come from delivering the most amazing wow factors to your patients that your competition and others are simply not doing. It will be an amazing ROI that lasts a lifetime!
For more expert practice management tips, read on here!
Dr. Pick is the CEO of his own consulting and coaching firm, The Pick Group, LLC., He can be reached at 773-402-8933 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also in private practice in Aurora, Illinois.