Four Ways to Get Patients Thinking About Inviting Others
Sometimes I’ll ask a dental team how many people in the practice are actively involved in promoting its services. As an example, if there are six team members including the doctor, they will proudly say that all six of them play a role. Then I ask how many patients they have, and they say about 2,000. Then the ideal number of “ambassadors” for the practice should be 2,006.
How many potential ambassadors are walking out the door of your practice keeping their rave reviews to themselves? How many patients would be happy to offer a written testimonial or readily promise to mention you to their friends, if they were only asked?
If you are good at what you do and you know it, then it’s part of your responsibility to ensure that you reach as many people as possible with your skills. This isn’t arrogance, it’s just a fact of life that comes with accepting a commitment to high achievement. If you offer an exceptional experience, why shouldn’t more people know about it?
Getting the word out starts with educating your existing patients on the value you provide, which as I mentioned in an earlier article, is really a matter of simply telling them. How then do you get them to tell others? It’s really a matter of simply asking them.
This isn’t a difficult thing to do. Most people are flattered to know that you value their opinions and their endorsement so highly, but you need to do in a way that shows that this is a fundamental part of your practice culture. Don’t just put a sign at the front desk saying that you welcome invitations. Use every opportunity to reinforce the invitation mindset. For instance, consider these conversation starters:
1. “Who invited you to our practice?” Asking this of new patients establishes right away that invitations are the foundation of your business. If the answer is “nobody,” express surprise and point out that most of your new patients come on the recommendation of others.
2. “We’ll earn the right to your invitation.” Let new patients know right up front that your goal with them is to provide the kind of care and service that will make them want to tell others. They will be impressed with your declaration to that commitment and they will start thinking along those lines right away.
3. “We keep family charts together.” This is an easy introduction to asking if there are any others in their family you will be seeing. If they hadn’t thought of it before, they will now. And it’s also a great opportunity to learn more about the patient’s family and make a personal connection.
4. “Would you mind writing that down?” Capture the moment when it happens. After a particularly successful appointment, have a team member ask the patient for their thoughts on how things went. If they respond favorably, tell the patient you would love to share that with the rest of the team and with others who are considering joining the practice. Then give them a card and a moment to commit their thoughts to paper. Using this strategy, it won’t take long to amass an impressive portfolio of rave reviews.
If you employ these basic strategies comprehensively and consistently, you’ll begin to notice an exciting phenomenon taking shape: the quality of each “generation” of invited new patients keeps getting better. They arrive more mindful, better prepared to appreciate your value, and primed for ideal care. You’re raising the bar with each successive invitation.
This is how you build that practice with the high-value, private club feel. Or rather, this is how your patients help you build that practice. It’s a powerful psychological need to want others we care about to share in the things that we like. It isn’t hard to leverage that fundamental human impulse, and build a community of patients who are just as proud of your practice as you are.