Let your patients do the talking

As the summer approaches, I wonder how many practices have taken steps to counter the likely seasonal dip in appointments. CQC aside, I hear that some dentists have had a tough year, what with increasing competition and patients holding back on spending in the uncertain economic climate.

So how, with minimal outlay, might you draw new patients to your door?

One of the phrases I learned in coaching was “all the money you need for the rest of your career is in the pockets of the people you already know and the people that they can introduce you to”. It makes sense, therefore, to tap into this resource without delay.

The great news is that word of mouth referrals by your current patients will cost you relatively little. Just provide them with the perfect tool – a handful of referral cards – and let those people you already know get on with doing your marketing for you.

The referral card technique goes like this: At the end of a course of treatment, tell your patient that you are always happy to welcome new patients and politely ask if they would mind passing your referral card on to any friends, family or colleagues who might be interested in the services you provide. A referral card is generally a little larger than a standard business card, so there is more space for an introduction to the practice and a list of what you offer, along with a photo (remember it’s all about the personal touch) and your contact details. You may feel self-conscious asking at first, but be pleasantly surprised that patients are more than willing to take three or four cards for the purpose.

Referral cards are also a nice handy size to leave with any local businesses you may have identified as potential strategic alliances. Your local gym, beauty or hair salon, for example, will often be happy to display your cards as part of a reciprocal arrangement that you take some of theirs.

It’s a Win/Win no brainer and you have little to lose. Coincidentally, as I write, a client of mine just posted on Facebook: “OMG… Just had someone come in saying they are soon to be working with a ‘geezer’ called Clooney! Handed them a boxful of my referral cards!” Now there’s an opportunity not to be missed.