How to boost patient numbers at your practice without spending an extra cent on marketing – Part 3

In an increasingly competitive dental market, you could be forgiven for thinking the only way to win is to outspend your competitors. Think again. In this multi-part series, founder of the Dental Profit System, Angus Pryor will take you through the different methods to boost patient numbers at your practice without spending an extra cent of marketing.


This is Angus Pryor. I’m the creator of the Dental Profit System and a co-author of the Kindle-smashing book, the Better Business Book, bringing you this week’s Marketing Monday, the weekly show designed to boost the marketing at your dental practice.

Today, we’re into a part three of a series looking at how to boost patient numbers at your practice without spending an extra cent on your marketing.

Now if you haven’t seen the previous ones in this series, then please head to my Facebook page, Angus Pryor, or you can look at Dental Profit System, the Facebook page, and you’ll see the previous ones. In summary, one, obviously it’s important to do, you want to be trying to maximize the return from your marketing.

And if you don’t have to spend an extra cent, all the better. You want to be measuring, you want to be looking at how effectively you’re converting your calls, turning inquiries into appointments, and actually determining of all the new patients that come, what was the marketing that they saw that led them to pick up the phone or walk in your door.

Today, we’re looking at referral systems. And in my mind, once you’ve got those other things in place, and I’ve looked at the data from a lot of dental practices over a number of months now, patient referral systems have gotta be probably the most effective system you can use. But here’s my experience: practices are doing one of three things in relation to patient referral systems.

One, they’re not doing it at all and I can only hope you’re fully booked. Two, they’ve got a system which is what i call the “Thank You System,” and I’ll talk about that in a minute. Or three, they’ve got what I call the Rewards System.

Obviously you do want to have some system in place unless you’re fully booked because here’s the reality, patient referrals, they’re the highest quality clients. Good clients tend to be friends with good clients, so you want that. They are more trusting, they will spend more easily, et cetera, et cetera. More loyal.

In terms of your patient referral system, if you’ve got a thank you system, the spectrum is from kind of, a new patient comes in, who referred you to us? They say, “Jim did,” and then you might call Jim or maybe send him a text and say thanks, or maybe make a note on the system, next time he comes in, thanks very much. So that’s kind of the least system.

In terms of most systems, what I’ve seen some practices do where they’ll actually write to that person and send them a card and maybe give them a coffee voucher or something like that. And that system can work quite well.

The third system is what I call the Rewards System, where you very strongly promote within your practice, if you refer someone, this is what you get or you go into the draw to do this. And this system can work very well. The key in any of these systems, whatever you do, is to promote it.

Now, let me tell you, because I’ve had this conversation many time. Some of you will push back on me and say, “Angus, you know, my clients … we’re in quite a nice part of town, they’re well-to-do, they’re not looking for cheesy freebies,” completely agree. You’ve gotta have something that works for your people.

You don’t want to be giving away dental services. I think it looks too self-serving. Things that can work really well is something like a night out on us. You might give them movie tickets, maybe gold class, something like that. Petrol cards can work very well. Gift cards can work very well. And holidays can work very well. So those are things that you can be offering to people. And basically what happens is if they refer someone, they go into the draw.

The second part is it’s really important that you have something to give them when you’re letting someone know about the system. Now, you can just hand them your business card, but even better is to get an actual system set up so that you’ve got a referral card which says “Referred By,” blah blah blah, and that can be handed across. That’s even stronger.

The third element that I want to mention about is any referral system is only as good as how effectively you promote it internally is. And my question is what are you doing as far as that goes?

What I’d see, the ones that work best, is where it’s promoted in the waiting room and you can either have a whiteboard, you could have it on your TV, one of my clients has recently set it up on easel, which I think is really cool. He’s got a really nice practice.

And you just want to highlight the fact that the system’s going and even have it where it says, “Mary referred Sally,” “John referred Jeff,” whatever, so that people get a sense that this is a practice worth referring to.

So that’s really important. The second part is to have something on your counter. A little counter card that says “refer and win,” or “Win a night out on us”, or whatever the case may be. And have a fish bowl there so you can be putting the cards in and people will go, “Ooh, what is it?”

And then the third aspect is promoting it, whether it’s on your Facebook page, in your newsletters. On your Facebook page, whatever the case may be, you’re actually telling your existing clients about it. Because in my experience, you know, if you’re not telling people about it, the system’s just not going to work.

But I just want to tell you, having had this conversation, seen this in operation with a lot of dentists all over Australia, this is definitely worth doing. You may need to tweak it a little bit just to get it so that it sits just right for your people. You know the make-up of your people, but tweak it and get it set up and measure it, because you will definitely reap the benefits.

All right, well that’s it for me. I’ve got another one for you next week. A little extra-special. If you need a hand getting your referral system set up and you want to just find out some of the details, by all means, just send me a note in Facebook or through Messenger or get on to our website, and get your referral system set up. Get it optimized. Get it working. And just send me the checks in the mail. No, seriously, I can’t think of a better way to get a great return.

Alright, well, that’s it for me. Angus Pryor, signing off for this week. We’ll be joining you next week, 1 PM Eastern Australian Time for another one in how to boost patient numbers in your practice without spending an extra cent on your marketing. Otherwise, see you next week.