They come in like clock-work, rarely missing an appointment and just being great patients. And yet it’s easy to take them for granted. You count on your base of solid patients to keep your practice running and busy. So what have you done for them lately?
Internal marketing isn’t just about asking for referrals. It’s also about really loving your patients and showing them how much you appreciate them.If you wonder why their friends aren’t coming to see you too, I’ll ask you one question: Have you given them a reason to? Have you given your patients an experience that they can’t help but talk to their friends about?
I know you’re great at what you do! So what could you do to really make them feel special. Maybe you give flowers to the ladies or bake chocolate chip cookies in the office. That’s great! Keep it up!
I recently read a wonderful book called “Referral of a Lifetime” by Tim Timpleton. I highly recommend it and you better believe I’m using his strategies to take care of my clients. In the book, Tim outlines a specific plan for staying in touch with those you love to do business with so they are always reminded of whom to recommend when a friend asks “Who’s your dentist?”.
Here a few tips to get you started:
1-Set your intention- if your intention in this process is to genuinely show your patients how much you care, that will come through loud and clear. If you come at it just to get more patients and make more money, that will come across too. And it won’t feel ‘right’. Set your intention to be sincere and the referrals will follow. That’s just how it works. You must set a loving intention and not be tied to the outcome. Try it, I promise it works.
2-Have a plan- make a list of your best 100-200 patients and begin to focus on giving them a simple greeting card, box of cookies or flowers each month. Set a budget for the gifts, cards and postage. This will help you select the gifts and the number of patients you wish to focus on.
Set up a system (there’s a guide for this in Tim’s book) and stick to it. Plan ahead 12 months for the gifts you’re going to send and put someone on your team in charge. Make them your ‘Ambassador of Appreciation’ so they are accountable for making sure the gifts are sent and the system implemented. Hygienists are great at this because they often have close relationships with patients.
3-Work your plan-Every morning during your huddle, make a note of those patients who are on your ‘100 Best Patients’ list or anyone you want to add to your list. Even if you have a small budget to start with, each hygienist can do something special for one patient and it will make an impact. You might start by choosing one patient on your schedule and give them a gift of a complementary whitening touch-up kit, Sonicare head, homecare kit or fluoride treatment, for example. And let the patient know this is ‘Just Because’.
4-Track it-Just like you track your other marketing efforts, run a report every month and see who has referred new patients. Send them a thank you gift immediately.Create a spreadsheet to track which gives you’ve sent to whom and the resulting referrals. It might take 6-8 months but you WILL see a strong return on your investment. And remember, you’re not just investing money, you’re investing in relationships.