A: I have heard this statement many times and, like you, in most cases I am uncomfortable directly asking for referrals. I am, however, totally comfortable with my staff promoting the practice of referrals to our patients. We have used various techniques over the years.
Having said that, there are times when I mention it as part of a conversation with the patient if they have just had a "wow" experience in our office -- such as after receiving a painless injection with the STA machine, celebrating a braces-off appointment, or seeing the results of a cosmetic makeover. In those situations, I am comfortable saying to the patient that they should mention how great their experience was to people they know.
Referral card from Loudmouth Dental Marketing.
I am, however, totally comfortable with my staff promoting the practice of referrals to our patients. We have used various techniques over the years. One is referral cards, which I get from Loudmouth Dental Marketing. I give these to the patient with a financial incentive to refer a friend, plus a free bleaching kit to the referred patient. I like these cards because they are different from others I have seen.
Loud Mouth can also coordinate this marketing with handbills and other promotional material for distribution. Total cost is around $55 to acquire the new patient, which I feel is very affordable.
Viva Dental gift cards.
A more high tech way is to use Viva Dental gift cards (Disclosure: I am on the Whiter Image Advisory Board but receive no remuneration for this recommendation). These plastic cards are custom-designed for your office and include an introductory offer. The magnetic strip on the back makes for easy tracking of who referred the patient. An online dashboard allows you to track all aspects of the referral program.
Using either of these solutions, have your staff give the cards to existing patients and their friends, and place them around town or at other mutual beneficial relationship offices. This way you get the benefits of word-of-mouth referrals without directly asking.
Marty Jablow, DMD, lectures and consults extensively about integrating technologies into the modern dental practice (www.dentaltechnologycoach.com). If you have a technology question for Dr. Jablow, send it to email@example.com.
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