Dentists like new patients, because each new person they see represents unexplored opportunities. But not all new patients come to you with the same appreciation of your value, which means the value you have to create is different, depending on where new patients are on this scale:

The Cold Call-In: You happen to be the closest practice in the neighborhood, or they saw your listing in the phone book, or an ad. They know practically nothing about you, so you have to start from scratch in creating the right value expectations.

The “Name” Referral: “Who is your dentist?” “Dr. Smith.” “Is he any good?” “Sure, I suppose so.” This kind of “neutral recommendation” is quite common. It gets them in the door, but they still don't have any real expectations. Compare that with...

The Testimonial Referral: “I had an incredible experience at my dentist – you should go to her, she's really great.” The person who hears this from a friend is walking in the door with a good sense of your value in mind and is usually ready to accept quality dentistry.

The Invitation from a True Believer: This is the person who knows someone who has had their life changed by the dentistry you have performed. This new patient has heard a story so compelling that they not only want to see you, they come in wanting what their friend got. They arrive ready for the highest value you can deliver.

The wonderful thing about this is that true believer can be created, and the more of them you send out into the world, the greater the number of quality invitations you see. It becomes a spiral of value. This is why the concept of the boutique practice is not really relevant anymore. Today, every patient can be a boutique patient in your practice. It's the experience you provide, not the business model that counts.