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The 3 Times To Talk To Your Patients About Referrals

Dentists that own their own practice have a tendency to think about it 24/7. After all, even when they aren’t working, there is something that needs to be improved, fixed, ordered, or taken care of, and the responsibility comes down on them. Being so wrapped up in managing and performing dentistry can cloud your thinking and keep you from seeing your practice the way your patients do.

For instance, you probably rely on patients to send new business your way. If you have other marketing or advertising in place, you’ve taken some of that control back, but chances are, your patients are still your best advertisements and your best source of business. There’s only one problem: they don’t know that, and they don’t work for you, so you can’t exactly make them send you new patients. It’s up to you to inform your patients about referrals and begin a cycle that grows and grows as new patients come.

At the initial visit – New patients will be the ones most impressed by your good service and also the most enthusiastic ambassadors of your practice. There’s a possibility that they either came to you after leaving a dentist that they didn’t like or that they haven’t been to a dentist in a long time. Furthermore, as new patients who just experienced a “first visit” at your office, they can tell others exactly what that first visit will be like and how good of an impression you made. While they’re still in the office, tell the new patient how much you appreciate them choosing you and how helpful referring new business can be. Getting the idea in their head early can make all the difference.

After their initial visit – Continuing on the same theme, the first 2-3 weeks after a visit are a key time to follow up with your clients. A thank you note, e-mail, text message, or gift will keep you at the top of their mind while they’re still fresh from their first visit. This kind of continuity makes patients take a second look at you; you’re not just any dentist now, you’re the dentist who keeps up with them, treats them like a person (not a customer), and goes out of your way to let patients know you care. Your message could be more than a “thank you”, also mentioning recent news from the staff, something you two spoke about during the appointment, or how your practice is growing (implying that you need the patient’s continued support i.e., referrals.)

At treatment completion – Asking for referrals can be very easy when patients after a successful treatment. When you see that you have alleviated someone’s pain, improved the look of their smile, or helped them sleep better at night, you probably feel a sense of pride, and deservedly so. Don’t let that prevent you from humbly speaking of your business. You, having provided a much needed service to the patient, shouldn’t feel any shame in mentioning how you can do the same for someone they care about. Use this as an opportunity to create an ambassador, someone who is able to speak to the quality of your work and the quality of life that comes with it.

Hopefully you’re beginning to see that asking for referrals doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does have to be intentional. Few practices are accidentally successful; what’s amazing is how small the differences can be that make a practice successful, drawing in new patients thanks to the powerful recommendations of current patients. Make sure to discuss with you staff about how they can talk about referrals, identifying the opportunities with existing patients and how to best inform new patients.

At, we work with dentists to reach more patients and get more referrals. Call or e-mail the marketing machines to learn more: (800) 808-0249 or