Contributing Writer  Expert Dental Consulting  Dental Consulting Company  DrBicuspidLogo1 300x57Best Dental Consultants     

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to

1 minute reading time (243 words)

Dental Consultant Top Referrals System


Some states allow you to thank a referring patient after the fact of the referral with a nominal gift ($10.00 - $25.00) however, the referring patient cannot have an expectation of the reward. 
A personally signed thank you card or note, ideally from the doctor, is smart and good manners.
You can offer a credit to new patients. The amount can be $50.00 or $100.00 or more. You can also offer a free cleaning or exam or nothing at all. It’s totally up to you but, most find a dollar value works best.  
If you offer a dollar amount still submit your usual fee to the insurance company if the referral is a PPO patient. Deduct the credit from the patient's portion. Include a note on how much and why you discounted the co-pay when submitting. If you have any concerns or questions, check with your providers. 
Note: You can't offer new patient credits to Medicaid or Medicare patients due to Federal regulations. 
Assign this program to a specific employee so there is accountability. The protocol only works well if it is done daily so, you want to monitor the stat "# of Quality Control Surveys Done" each day otherwise the accountable employee may not focus or place the proper importance on it. More on the Quality Control survey in a moment. 
You will want a simple paper card. See HERE
If you prefer, replace the dollar value with a free cleaning, exam, etc. If your patient has specific people in mind to refer, fill out the card for the patient or have the patient fill out while they are in the office. If they do not have anyone specific in mind give them a few cards if they want them.
Optional: Create a letter explaining how the program works and send out to your entire patient base with five referral cards to jump-start the program.
  • Create a Quality Control Survey. Sample below.
  • When a patient completes all or part of their treatment ask them the questions on the Quality Control Survey or you can have them fill out the form themselves. You can even tell them it is being done as requested by your consultant or business advisor to find areas where the practice can improve customer service (true!).
  • If you get negative feedback, thank them and assure the patient you will bring the matter to the attention of the office manager or doctor and, of course, make sure to do so at your next huddle. 
  • If the patient is happy show them a referral card. 
  • Ask the patient if there are any specific family or friends they’d like to refer. If so, write the name or initials of each person named, one card per referral.
  • If the patient can’t think of anyone still give the patient cards if they want some.
  • Keep a daily log of how many Quality Control Surveys are done.
  • Include a couple paper referrals cards in any letters that go out such as statements. 
  • ​Always send a personally signed thank you note or card to any patient that refers a new patient. Include a couple referral cards. You can include, if you choose to, a nominal gift card ($10.00 - $25.00). You do not need to do so but, the personal thank you note, or card is a must. 
Information:  Use this form (edit if you want to) with every patient that completes all or part of their treatment plan. You can use the form with new patients as you see fit. 
Inform the patient:  “When patients complete treatment in our office we do a quick Quality Control Survey to ensure their satisfaction with the service they received so we can improve our customer service.”
Simply ask the questions or you can have the patient fill the form out.  
Questions (change, remove or add questions as you see fit):
  • Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your experience at our office?   
  • Is there some way we can change our office that would make your visits more enjoyable? 
  • Did you have to wait an excess amount of time before being seen?
  • Were finances explained and was your bill what you expected?
  • Were you treated courteously throughout the office?
  • 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 office procedures and policies. 

Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants, Senior Consultant, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a speaker in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge’s senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at 

Dental Consultant Staff Training Tips
Dental Consultant Tips: Unpleasant Staff Situation...


What Does A Dental Consultant Do? Charge?

Many dentists will tell you dental consulting works. If dental practice management firms had no worth or benefit they could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. What a veteran dental consultant brings to the table are systems and protocols successfully implemented in other practices that have been improved and tweaked over many years. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what works and what doesn't work across all dental practices.

Marketing & New Patients

Practice management consultants generally have little marketing training or background. 

Note: Cambridge'a consultants are Certified SEO and Ad Words Specialists

Dental Office Systems

Key systems dental consultants implement:

  1. New Patient Phone Call
  2. Insurance Processing
  3. New Patient Experience and Patient Education
  4. Financial Arrangements
  5. Scheduling
  6. Confirmation
  7. Unscheduled Treatment Followup
  8. Reactivation
  9. Huddle
  10. Stat Monitoring
  11. Daily and Weekly Checklists
  12. General Policy Manual

Your Staff

You will not get much ROI from your dental consulting if your staff do not have your back. You do not beed a team of cheer leaders jumping up and down with enthusiasm, but you do need staff who are smart and take some pride and ownership in what they do. If there is more than the usual drama in your practice that needs to be sorted out before you will get any real results.

Staff Accountability 

What gets monitored gets done.

The "big" obvious numbers are important to monitor, but when you look at them they are typically already "in the books". You want your team to concentrate and be accountable daily on the "small" stats that bring about the "big" stats. How many practice owners know how many calls were made to unscheduled patients each day or overdue re-care or inactive patients? Many dentists vastly underestimate how much daily "outflow" is needed to keep a schedule full. How may dentists know what % of slots were open in their hygiene schedule each day? How many know how many NP calls there were yesterday, who scheduled and if they end up showing up? More importantly how many staff know considering it's their job to do?

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 re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee, but that employee accountable reports daily on a spreadsheet like this: 1. # of calls or personal texts sent 2. # of contact
3. # of appointments with name and date 4. # of arrivals

It is the employee who is either making themselves valuable to you or not. If they are doing so, dismissing them will never enter your mind. On the other hand, if they are not making themselves valuable, you will be doing them and yourself a favor by giving them the opportunity to find a practice or other employment that is a better fit for them.  


What most practice owners are missing is not how to book an appointment but how to be effective leaders. 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. Agreement among all team members is key. Your written office policies should contain those agreements and should answer most questions staff come up with. Doing so will save you much time and simplify the management of your practice. Staff non compliance is a sure sign of poor leadership. The primary reason practices underperform is staff non compliance.  Key traits of leaders. All it takes is discipline: 

  1. Always keep a cool head especially when "under fire"
  2. Realize that all mistakes are an opportunity for you and your staff to learn.
  3. Set a good example.
  4. Always be learning.
  5. Take care of yourself.
  6. Fight the impulse to address multiple issue at the same time. Frantic activity creates spotty results.


$35.000.00 is the average fee for a one year program with dental practice management companies you are likely familiar with. For those companies that require you and your staff to travel to their facility or seminar you also need to add in the cost of travel, staff pay and lost production from time away from your practice. 

Questions You Should Ask

  1. Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
  2. Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance? There are advantages to both.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

If you do a little homework it should be fairly easy to pick a reputable consultant that is a good fit for you and your practice.