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The 7 Business Success Secrets To Build A *Booming* Referrals-Based Dental Practice

May 13, 2008
You've heard it before, probably from a dental practice management consultant of some kind: "A Referrals-Based Practice is the BEST-case scenario." If your practice has reached that level of development, you deserve it. It obviously took great amounts of physical and mental work to get it there.

If your practice isn't there yet, but you are working on getting it to that level, there are certain key elements that will make it easier to do. Granted, it's still difficult, but, it will help it happen quicker.

Here are seven distinct steps to take to cause your referrals to hit all-time highs:

1) Send something of value, like a newsletter, at least 12 times a year to your existing patients. This creates an almost unbreakable bond that withstands economic issues and the many other reasons patients choose to leave a practice for. The many benefits are carefully outlined and detailed in the other special report contained with this one. This is truly an internal dental marketing strategy you can't ignore.

2) Offer useful information to your patients both digitally (via email) and in print (via a newsletter). Most of us get email, few of us read it for what it is. I find more and more, that it's a nuisance to even get it and have made threats to myself to get rid of it! Whereas, printed mail captures my attention much more completely and I also ten to place a higher value on it. I believe most folks respond somewhat the same. HOWEVER, do not completely ignore the value of communication sent via an e-letter or some form of one as long as it's targeted and concise and not too lengthy. They still work better than nothing in this area.

3) Educate them. Pick a relevant topic each month. This is important to the success of the communication. We suggest providing information about say sealants one month, teeth whitening the next month. In giving the information, keep it simple and easy to understand and avoid technical language to keep the reader's interest.

4) Become a relentless self-promoter. Read Debbie Allen's book, "Confessions of Shameless Self-Promoters." No one knows you better than you. You should be continually promoting your practice and yourself!

5) Position yourself in the mind of your community as a specialist. Being in a niche is easier to promote and sell that a "do-it-all" general dentist. and, once your patients get in and see that you do more than say just cosmetics, then you can obviously offer those services to them. BUT, defining a niche and working hard to fill it is an advisable route to go.

6) Sponsor charitable events or start your own non-profit is easy to do. A non-profit corporation is a fantastic way to promote your favorite cause and it's a great P.R. move. Be sure your causes are worthy or your patient's and community's support. Hold events at local landmarks (we just did a birthday party at the local riverfront carousel where we asked that presents not be brought and instead a donation of a winter coat in good condition OR a $5 cash donation. We ended up supplying over 50 coats to local children in need!

7) Ask those patients that you desire more of to refer. This can be as simple as literally asking those "A" patients you see everyday to send in their friends and family. Be sure to give them some incentive whether it's a credit on their account or a discount on services.

8) Be Consistent in your efforts. This is probably the most difficult of the now "8" business success secrets. Once you find a formula that delivers quality new patients, stick to it! Especially, if you are active in advertising externally (outside your patient base), be sure to diligently track all referrals from all sources. Find what's working and point your efforts (monetarily and otherwise) in that direction. If you find charitable events that work well, then plan one each quarter! Or, if presentations before the Rotary yields 1 or 2 patients each time, then plan on that 2 or 3 times a year!

These are far from new dental marketing ideas, but they are dental marketing strategies that are seldom used consistently to get more referral patients. Know that there are plenty of resources out there that will offer new dental marketing ideas, or more insight on internal dental marketing, as well as resources unrelated to dental practice management that also will offer some insight.

Good Luck! Getting your practice to that optimum referrals level isn't a cakewalk, but it's also not impossible, and know that you should never have to go at it alone.
About the Author
James Erickson is the President of EMC Dental Marketing which gives Dentists a resource for turn-key dental marketing programs and dental practice marketing education including new patient attraction, and internal marketing systems. Visit www.EMCdental.com and get a free practice building kit sent directly to your home or office.
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