Asking for referrals is an excellent way to expand your patient base, and attract more of your ideal patient avatar. If you have people and patients that you really enjoy interacting with, it stands to reason that friends and family of these patients are likely to be a similarly great fit for your practice.
However, a lot of people do feel a little bit awkward about asking for referrals. Sometimes they worry that it comes off as too needy, or they don’t like asking for favours, or they simply don’t like to be put on the spot.
But, there’s actually a super simple framework and formula that you can use to ask for referrals effortlessly. And that’s exactly what I’m going to share with you today.
If you want to ask a patient for feedback and referrals, it’s important to frame it at the beginning of the appointment.
You can really simply and concisely frame it like:
“Bob at the end of the appointment, would it be okay if I ask you for some feedback? I really want to make sure the appointment is good for you, and check in with you. Is that okay?”
This allows you to set the expectation that you’ll be asking Bob a question about his experience with you, and that it’s for the benefit of his care and other patients.
2. Initiating the conversation
At the end of the appointment, you can loop back to the topic of feedback with a quick and easy:
“Bob, I mentioned at the beginning of the appointment that I’d ask for some feedback. Would you mind letting me know how the appointment was?”
Now, not all feedback is necessarily going to be positive. Negative feedback is often very instructive and you can take that on board to improve your patient experience.
3. Proceed with the request
However, if the feedback is positive, you can make a short request:
“Bob, thanks so much for those kind words. I really appreciate the feedback. Look, what you might not realize is that we’re primarily a referral-based practice and look, we don’t take on just anyone as a patient, but I’m glad you’ve had a good experience. I’ve certainly enjoyed looking after you. So if you happen to have any family and friends you’d like to send along, we’d be more than happy to look after them on your behalf. He’s a card that you might like to hand out to them.”
By indicating that you operate primarily on referrals, you create this exclusivity which operates as a psychological principle to entice people to want access to you and your practice. You can also emphasise that you would be “looking after” whoever Bob refers, which is going to make him feel much more comfortable about referring his loved ones to you. This makes it less of a request or favour on your part, and more of an offer.
So, if you haven’t been asking for referrals in your practice, maybe this is your sign to go ahead and do that now… but the problem is that a lot of businesses out there are going to be pushing consumers
During a recession, a couple of things typically happen.
- patients will delay what they perceive as elective treatment.
- so that means the practices left doing bread and butter dentistry, low end low margin type of treatment,
- Greatly reduce profitable high end cosmetic elective procedures.
Equally what can happen is that the normal fixed monthly recall can get blown out to nine months or even 12 months and the consequence of that for the patient is that their teeth aren’t being examined as regular as they ordinarily would be.
So small problems can become bigger problems that become more time consuming and more costly to fix. And so it’s really important that that regular care is maintained from a preventive point of view.
Because if it’s not, as I said, the patients end up spending more money and more time than they want to on the teeth, and then what happens if that’s compounded with the recession, then they’ll be choosing options that are potentially substandard, cheap options, rather than the best options.
So you get into this vicious cycle. But it’s not just the patients…
All those forces with the patients delaying the treatments, electives, or early treatment or maybe delaying their regular checkups is also set against the backdrop of team members asking for pay rises.
Thus, your revenue is impacted but of course, your cost base is impacted as well because now you’ve got your wages going up against that same force. Which means staff wages have to go up if you want to retain your best staff and we know that it’s really difficult to recruit people. So it’s this kind of perfect storm as well.
So what I did was create an online training event specifically to address how to recession-proof your practice. Where I’ll not only show you how to keep your chairs full during economic downturns so people are paying those higher fees, but also how to find new opportunities to actually grow, plus how to improve your systems and teams to handle that growth better. By the time the recession is over your practice will be thriving instead of dying.
If you’d like to see more head over to our Recession Proof Your Dental Practice Webinar registration page.