By Roger P. Levin, DDS
To ensure greater practice success in 2017, initiate a multi-faceted referral-generating program now—one that not only reinforces strategies already in place for bringing patients into your practice but also explores new opportunities for growth.
Where do new patients come from?
For most orthodontic practices, there are three general sources:
Referrals from existing patients or parents
- Referrals from other dental and medical doctors
Marketing outreach to the general public
For systematic growth of your patient base, address each of these areas specifically. Below are a number of strategies related to these broad categories. You’re probably already doing some of them but not others. Think about adding new activities to bring in new patients, and about how to improve strategies that haven’t been working as well as you’d like.
Patient Referrals - More often actually from parents of current child and adolescent patients, these word-of-mouth recommendations can and should account for the largest share of new patients. If less than 50% of parents and adult patients give you at least one referral per year, you can do better. Display simple signs (“We’re accepting new patients!”) where practice visitors will see them. Script all staff members to ask for referrals. Offer parents free consultation cards to give to friends and family members. And suggest your observation program for siblings of young patients.
Doctor Referrals - When’s the last time you added new doctors to your referral network? Search out new (or new to you) GPs, pediatric dentists, and pediatricians in your area, including group practices. Schedule more contests, giveaways, and deliveries with your referrers. Provide free educational materials for doctors to give patients’ parents. And invite referrers to social and educational events to strengthen relationships.
Marketing Outreach - Develop a robust online presence so that anyone in your area searching for an orthodontist will find you on your website, local directories, review sites, and social media. Raise your practice’s profile in local neighborhoods by appearing at health fairs, speaking to school groups, and sponsoring teams. Also, give back to the community by providing professional services to the under-served or adopting a good cause.
Unless your practice already does all of the above—and does it with energy and innovation—2017 can be a year of significant growth for your practice. Begin using the strategies mentioned here and you’ll generate more referrals, more consults, more starts, and greater financial success.
Attend Dr. Levin’s ortho seminars tuition-free. Ask your Ortho2 Regional Manager how to receive an educational grant. Go to www.levingroup.com/orthoseminars to see dates and locations for ortho seminars in 2017.