Top professionals in nearly every field of selling understand the value of good clients
above and beyond the direct business they get from them. Each client’s business not
only adds to your personal bottom line, but it can lead to even more business through
referrals. The same goes for dental practices. Every satisfied patient can be the source of
many more patients whose business generates additional revenues for your practice.
The key is to understand how to leverage the satisfaction of your current patients for
its maximum value. It’s a very simple, yet critical aspect of business and something that
deserves dedicated effort by you and every member of your staff. In fact, it’s a good idea
to remind everyone on your staff, both verbally and visually, that they should constantly
be seeking opportunities to generate the contact information for potential new patients.
Some dental practices do this so naturally that you would have to pay careful attention
to determine exactly the steps they are implementing to grow their practices through
their patients. Let me suggest a couple of things you can easily do to get started on a program
of growth that’s rooted in your existing, satisfied patients.
First, ask the existing patients what they would tell others about their
experience with your practice. Either you or your staff member should
make a quick note of that (or even have the patient jot down their
thoughts on a piece of your stationery, sign and date it). Then, post
it on a bulletin board in your waiting room. It’s critical that the
patient understands they’re giving you permission to display their
endorsement. Truly satisfied patients will be happy to do this.
Some will even embellish their messages with small illustrations, if they’re artistically
inclined. Keep a cup of colorful markers or stickers of gold stars and such handy for them
to use for this purpose. This is way more beneficial to your practice than crayons and paper
in the lobby. The more fun you can make it for them, the more likely they’ll do it.
Once you have 15, 20 or more of these endorsements, put them into binders and place
them throughout your office. Once patients become familiar with this process, they’ll look
forward to seeing what others have said (or drawn) and tell friends and
relatives to look for their endorsements when they come in for treatment. It becomes a point
of interest in coming to your office and something they’ll talk about with others in the daily
course of their lives. And, the more they talk about you, the further the word of your excellent
service spreads throughout the community.
Consider taking pictures of just the smiles on patients’ faces to add to their endorsements.
Maybe call your booklet “The Book of Smiles,” so patients will know how to refer to it. The
mental image you’re creating is of happy people with healthy teeth. Isn’t that exactly what you
want to have pop into their minds when they think of you?
With the ease of use of technology today, you could even
have your staff capture a quick video of some patients talking
about how great your service is. You would then show this
video on a screen in your waiting room or while patients are
hanging out, relaxing in the operatory.
Another way of letting your patients brag for you is to
use our “Higher Authority Close” and have your patient,
especially if they’re a prominent person in the area, actually
talk with other prospective patients for you. To do this, you
would need to have a satisfied patient agree to make a call on your behalf. Perhaps they have
mentioned knowing someone with a particularly large extended family in the community
or being active in a social group in the area. Ask them to mention their positive experience
with your practice and suggest the others consider going there as well.
People who are active in the community are used to networking for themselves. When
they find a good resource, they’re usually eager to share it with others in their network.
Always be considerate of higher authorities’ time and don’t ask them to make calls for you
frequently – just ask when they have influence over a key group of potential new patients.
You should be so proud of the level of service you provide that you are never hesitant to
ask patients to tell their friends, loved ones and associates about it. You might even say,
“Since you’re so happy with how well we’ve served your needs (or your family’s needs), you
wouldn’t mind telling a few friends or relatives about it, would you?” When it’s stated that
way, most people will not mind agreeing to do it. The trick is in getting them to follow
through because within 15 seconds of leaving your office most people will have at least five
other things on their minds.
So, what do you do to increase the odds that they’ll tell others about you? You could give
them a to-do list-type of note pad or sticky note pad that shows right on it in the first position
– “Tell the next person I talk with about how great Dr. So-and-So is.” Always include
your phone number. Add the Web site if they can sign up as new patients online. And, include
your photo on the note pad as another trigger to remind your happy clients to do this.
Some businesses I know of will give out three, five or even more items like this and
have a staff member follow up with the patients within the week to find out who they
gave them to. They would then ask for a mailing address to send a brochure, coupon or
additional information about your practice. Repeat mailings would be sent at least six
times in a year in order to become a familiar face to those people. It takes a minimum of
six contacts with people who are not already clients for them to start to remember your
name or face and make the connection to your type of service.
I used to do this in my real estate career. I found it interesting how many people would
eventually come to me to buy or sell a home and tell me that they recognized me. That sense
of familiarity made them feel comfortable calling me when they had a need even though they
had never met me.
Another idea to gain new patients is to include your business card and a
satisfied patient endorsement in every piece of mail you send out. This
includes your water bill, your electric bill and so on. Again, I received
calls from people at the water department office because they had
seen my information repeatedly. In fact, one woman gave my business
card to a relative who was thinking about moving into the area.
Neither person knew a good real estate agent, but the clerk at the
water department happened to have my card in her desk.
The simplest method for using a satisfied client’s name is to
have him or her write you a letter about how happy he or she is
with the decision to come to you for dental services. Once you’ve
gotten his or her issues resolved, you have earned the right to ask for a more formal testimonial
letter. All you have to do is say these words: “Mr. or Ms. Client, I’m so pleased that
you are enjoying the benefits of our services. And I so appreciate the opportunity I have of
serving your needs.” (By the way, if they aren’t perfectly satisfied with both the results and
your level of service, don’t waste your time on this.) “Since you’re so happy, you wouldn’t
mind dashing off a short letter about our experience together that I might show to another
prospective patient, would you?”
See how nice that is? And if you’ve done your job properly, he or she will be happy
to approve it for your usage with those other potential patients. It’s painless for them and
priceless for you.
As you know, some people have a tremendous amount of fear about going to the dentist.
When you have a patient who expresses that fear, yet continues to come to you, you know
you’re providing them not only great dental services but a great experience. Don’t be afraid to
ask them to write up or record something about that particular benefit of your service. Don’t
just listen for generalized statements of satisfaction from your patients. Pay attention to pain
points – fears, bad past experiences, and so on. Once you have served them well and satisfied
their needs, encourage them to help others with similar fears to overcome them and gain the
benefit of good dental health. As nice as it would be to have a small army of happy patients
saying, “Dr. So-and-So is great,” the more specific they can be about what makes you great,
the more likely you are to get new patients. Someone who hears their message about “I used
to be afraid of going to the dentist, but …” or “I had no pain or discomfort at all” their ears
will perk up and they’ll pay attention. They’ll want to know of this wonderful place of painfree
dentistry, someone having a relaxing and enjoyable visit to the dentist and so on.
Work on the ways you can encourage clients to do the bragging for you and you’ll soon
find yourself generating more revenue, but doing so with more ease than ever before.
Tom Hopkins is a world-renowned expert and authority on selling and salesmanship. His simple yet powerful strategies have
been proven effective in many industries, including the dental industry, and during all types of economic cycles. The foundation
of his training includes both the “people skills” of proper communication and the nuances that impact every situation where
trying to persuade others. Tom’s style of delivery is practical and entertaining – making the strategies easy to remember and implement.
Learn more about how Tom Hopkins can help you increase revenues in your practice at www.tomhopkins.com/blog.
Details about Tom’s speaking schedule can be found at www.tomhopkins.com/live_events.shtml.