When people are looking for a new dentist, where do they turn? In most cases, they ask friends, neighbors and family members for recommendations. After all, people want to feel they can trust their dentists, so they turn to others they know and rely on. That’s why building a base of patients who are happy to give you referrals is a great way to expand your patient roster. Here are five steps to getting and using referrals to grow your practice.
- Focus on satisfied patients. You probably don't want to ask a first-time patient for a referral; that will seem overeager. Instead, focus on long-time patients who you know are happy with your quality of care. For example, you may want to reach out to patients after they have been seeing you for one year. An anniversary such as this is a natural time to follow up about patient satisfaction and, once you're sure patients are happy, ask if they have any friends or family they might want to refer to your office.
- Create a system for organizing referrals. In order to follow-up on referrals in a timely and effective fashion, you need to standardize the way you collect referral information. Use your practice management software to record referral information, including the name of the referring patient, the date of the referral and any pertinent notes about the prospective new patient (such as whether they have children). Also record any contact you’ve had with the prospective patient and the results.
- Use social media to generate referrals. Encourage your patients to follow your practice on social media. From time to time, ask your followers if they have anyone they could refer to your dental office. (Include a link or email address they can use to send the referrals information to you.) Lighthouse 360 integrates with Facebook so it’s simple to add posts and reviews to Facebook right from your Lighthouse 360 portal.
- Collect online reviews. What if a prospective patient is still uncertain about visiting your dental office, despite getting a referral from a friend? Seeing positive reviews about your practice online can help reinforce the good things they hear about you from their friends and family. Lighthouse 360 automatically collects reviews from satisfied patients and posts them to top review sites such as Yelp and Google+. You also get your own page on RateABiz.com to showcase your reviews and improve your practice’s rank in search results.
- Use email to ask for and act on referrals. With Lighthouse 360, it’s easy to send customized emails to targeted patient lists, so you can ask patients for referrals from time to time. If you send out a regular email newsletter, include a note reminding patients to refer their friends and family to your office. Offering some type of incentive for referrals can help make patients more likely to give them. When you get names of referrals, reach out to them via email or direct mail with incentives and offers to help convince them to make an appointment.
With a good referral program in place, your practice will soon enjoy a steady stream of new patients.