Dental Consultant Tip: Your Best New Patients
How your staff approaches referrals can become second nature by asking patients their opinion, and if it's positive, then asking for that all-important new patient referral.
Dental consultants universally agree that patient referrals are the best source of new patients for any dental office. Encouraging patients to refer their friends and family should be a part of your office routine. Even though “everyone knows” they should be asking patients for referrals, it is rarely done on a consistent basis.
Accountability—Assign this program to a specific employee so there is accountability.
• Have at least 1,000 referral cards printed that offer new patients $50 off dental treatment. If you don’t already have a printing company, Google “dental office referral cards,” where you will find many vendors to choose from. (Note: See “Important” section below.)
• Create a letter to hand out to current patients that explains how the program works. It is best that the letter be written by you or someone in your office so that it is unique and personalized.
• Optional: Send the letter to your entire patient base with five referral cards to jump-start the program.
Quality control survey
• Create a quality control survey similar to the one below.
• When patients complete treatment, ask them the questions on the quality control survey. If they’re happy with their service, explain the referral program. Give them the explanation letter and five cards.
• Keep a daily log of how many cards are handed out to track the effectiveness of the program.
• Include a couple of referral cards in letters that go out with statements.
• Always send a thank you note to any patient that refers a new patient. Include a couple of referral cards.
• Rewarding a patient or person who refers a new patient is forbidden in most if not all states.
• Deduct the $50 new-patient credit from the patient portion. When submitting insurance, include a note on how much and why you discounted the co-pay.
• Example: The new patient needs a crown and the patient portion is $3000. You deduct the credit from the patient's portion.
• You should still submit your agreed upon fee to the insurance company.
• You can't offer new patient credits to Medicaid or Medicare patients due to federal regulations.
Increasing referrals depends on getting referral cards into the hands of your patients on a daily basis so they can in turn give them to friends and family.
Quality control survey
Information: Use this form for every patient that completes treatment with the doctor or hygienist. If the patient had a negative experience you should attempt to resolve the problem immediately if possible. If you need to get more information before acting, tell the patient you will be calling him or her within 24 hours to resolve the situation.
Inform the patient: When patients complete treatment in our office we do a quick quality control survey to ensure their satisfaction with your service.
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your experience at our office?
2. Is there some way we can change our office that would make your visits even more enjoyable?
3. Did you have to wait an excessive amount of time before being seen?
4. Were finances explained, and was your bill exactly what you expected?
5. Were you treated courteously throughout the office?
6. Based on your experiences, would you refer friends and family to our office? (If the answer is yes, explain the patient referral program. If no, make every attempt to resolve the problem within the guidelines of the office procedures and policies.)
Dental Practice Consulting Analysis
Plan Implementation. Implement The Plan
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There is the good, the bad and the ugly of dental practice management, but many dentists will still tell you the probability is your dental consulting will work if you and your consultant are on the same page. It stands to reason that if a dental consultant had little value, worth or benefit that consultant could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. A veteran dental consultant is also a "personal coach" who shold bring management wisdom based on "in the trenches" experience along with systems and protocols to that have been successfully implemented in other practices. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what systems work and don't across many dental practices.
New Patient Phone Call
New Patient Experience and Patient Education
Daily and Weekly Checklists
General Policy Manual
What gets monitored, gets managed. It is as simple as that. The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue for re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee.
What most practice owners are lack in knowledge is not how to book an appointment, but rather how to be an effective leader. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply.
Questions To Ask
Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance?There are advantages to both.
If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.
Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.
The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.
Top Dental Practice Mangement Consultant
My name is Kevin Tighe. I am Cambridge's CEO and Senior Consultant. Before joining the Cambridge team I was in charge of setting up workshops for large nonprofits throughout the United States and Canada. During that time, I was fortunate to receive mentoring from several world-class business consultants, including a dental practice management guru, which led to a position at Cambridge as their seminar organizer. In time, I began crisscrossing the country delivering seminars myself for the better part of a decade. Subsequently, I moved up to senior consultant and eventually owner. Contributing writer to Dental Economics/DIQ, JADA, AGD Impact and Dental Town Magazine.
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