Acknowledging Referrals in a Dental Practice

I was recently asked if I would recommend acknowledging patient referrals in a dental practice.  By this I mean making a gift to an existing patient whose recommendation brings a new patient to the practice.  The practice in question was suggesting a Starbucks Card or a Subway Card. And how should we write to the referring patient?

I would certainly recommend a handwritten letter on A5 that is written on one of your letterheads.  Handwritten is better as it shows the recipient that you have taken time out to thank them rather than just sending a standard letter.

I feel a nice picture card does not always portray your own practice well but if you are going to use this then the picture on the card design should immediately reflect something positive about your practice.

I myself was recently sent a Starbucks card from a supplier for passing them business from another colleague.  One problem – I don’t like Starbucks.  A John Lewis voucher or an M&S voucher would be my recommendation, if they have a branch near to where the referring patient lives.  Or why not invite the referring patient to drop in to the practice and collect a gift pack – a nice package full of quality dental products with maybe one or two extras.  Whatever you send them or give them, make sure you send them half a dozen business cards or practice leaflets and having thanked them so much for the valuable referral, encourage them to repeat this.

People ask me how much should they spend.  Well, what is the lifetime value of a good recommendation, say over 10 years? Surely it must average over £1500 in a general dental practice and substantially more than that in a specialist or private practice.  I’d say £25 minimum as a spend per successful referral.

If you consider how much you spend on each method of advertising or marketing and then work out how much that is per new patient that it attracts then £25 per referral will be similar compared to others.  Say for example you spend £3,000 on a new website and a further £1,000 per year maintaining and updating it (don’t forget to take account of your own time as well) and £500 per year on Search Engine Optimisation.  Then over 3 years your investment on Internet Marketing would be £7,500.  Assume that attracts, say 2 new patients per week.  That’s approx 300 new patients via your website for £7,500 or £25 per patient.

If you need help putting in place a procedure within your practice to evaluate the return on investment for each advertising or marketing campaign then please get in touch.

Having a good understanding of the above will help you determine what marketing works well for you and what is maybe not as cost effective.  Get this right and your practice can really grow.

Happy hunting.

Posted in: Dental Marketing