Whether it's for a doctor, lawyer, accountant, or dentist, word-of-mouth advertising is an established, effective way to grow a practice. If you're not getting a substantial number of new patient referrals from your existing patients, implement new internal marketing strategies to take advantage of this untapped growth potential.
Set a target of a 40% to 60% patient referral rate. Many patients will gladly recommend your practice to family and friends ... if you encourage them. This can be done easily and inexpensively. Put up tasteful signs where patients will see them with a message such as, "We are now accepting new patients!" Also, use simple scripts to train everyone in the practice, including the doctor, hygienist, and front desk coordinator, to tell patients that referrals are welcome. Track the results and report on the progress toward your target at team meetings.
Don't think it's unprofessional to ask for referrals. Some dentists hesitate to ask patients for referrals, feeling that they should not be "selling" their services. However, if you believe you provide excellent care for your patients -- and they agree -- then working together to bring new patients into the practice is helpful and positive, not self-serving or money driven.
Dr. Roger P. Levin is CEO of Levin Group, a leading practice management and marketing consulting firm. To contact him or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit LevinGroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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