Sunday, 3 March, 2024

31 Jan 2019 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 50

Don’t ask for referrals. There’s a much smarter way!

By Dr Michael Sernik

You might be comfortable asking patients for referrals, but I doubt if the patient feels comfortable. It tends to come across as unprofessional, desperate and needy.


I realise that there's a whole slew of practice managers that will tell you it's all fine... but just because people do it, doesn't make it OK.

If you want patients to refer more patients, there is a much better way, but it requires some deft skills - skills that the whole team needs to master.

Back in the days when all advertising was illegal, I built 5 big practices without any advertising... all through word of mouth. We really needed lots of referrals then. That was our life-blood. The system we developed was powerful... but it's a lost art. It's easier to just throw money at the problem and pay for more ads. But now people are realizing that the ads are expensive and because more dentists are advertising, there are diminishing returns.

It's time to re-look at how we did it then and how we can do it now with new technology that allows us to tweak that system and kick it into high gear.

If I were to ask you what's the best way to get referrals, most people say things like; "don't hurt; be likeable; don't be too expensive; have a nice facility; be friendly", etc, etc. All of these things are obviously true, but they are also assumed and expected. Most practices are aware that this is what they must do.

So here it is – the number one shift in referral thinking: Give your patients something fascinating to talk to their friends about. Make dentistry INTERESTING!

If you want your patients to talk to their friends about you, you need to give them something to say. Something that makes you TALK-WORTHY; NOTABLE; UNUSUAL; OUTSTANDING.

Give your patients TALKING POINTS. Here are some examples of what I did in the 1970's:

I rigged up a TV and an intra-oral system from an endoscope so that patients could see their teeth on a huge TV that I had attached to the ceiling. I used a biofeedback machine rigged up to headphones that played a sound that monitored the patient's state of relaxation plus there was music playing. Patients watched cartoons. I gave them photos of their teeth showing the before and afters. I owned the second laser in Australia and was one of the first to have a dental computer. There were many other things like hypnosis and acupuncture. But here's my point. The whole team was fully trained to talk to the patients about these things.

Ask any of your team members to tell you the cost of an implant, the cost of a ceramic restoration or the cost of root canal treatment. They can do that without a pause. They also know how many appointments are needed. But have you trained them all to be experts at making treatment INTERESTING? Do they know how to make you TALK-WORTHY; NOTABLE; UNUSUAL; OUTSTANDING?

If you don't give your patients anything interesting to talk about... they probably won't talk to their friends about you.

Today, more than ever, there are so many new things to say. But the clinician is flat-out doing treatment. The team is busy just doing the basics, like making appointments and explaining insurance issues. All very boring. Which is the very reason I created Channel D, the #1 communications tool for your reception area that humanises dentistry.

The videos are TALK-WORTHY; NOTABLE; UNUSUAL; OUTSTANDING and INTERESTING. They are customised to each practice, giving the patient the impression that you personally commissioned them. Many feature photos of you and your team. You will come across as having a sense of humour. Your personality will shine. But also, we feature the treatments that you provide in a way that makes it all so INTERESTING.

Now here's where it gets interesting...

The videos spark conversations. But now everyone needs to know what to actually say. This is where you need to provide some team training.

Book, say, 2 hours a week for team training and during the training, make one of your agenda items Channel D PATIENT TRAINING (There are other things you do in trainings, but I'm just going to explain this one element).

Step 1. The team watches one of the Channel D videos that you have playing in your waiting room. Each video just focusses on a single topic. For example, it might be something on Sleep Apnoea. As everyone watches the video, they each write notes on what was said.

Step 2. Each person in the room verbalises what they know about sleep apnoea.

Step 3. The clinician now chimes in with additional talk-worthy information. Everyone writes that down.

Step 4. Now you all discuss any real-life stories and experiences that you know about on this topic, especially success stories about your patients.

Step 5. A note-taker writes up cards on this topic and this is saved on a shared online file. You will create a TALKING-POINT FILE for each topic.

Channel D has over 100 video topics. There are new topics constantly being added because we get requests from clients all the time to add more and we aim to cover every imaginable dental-related topic.

Now the really savvy practices are creating a team of powerful practice-builders. Each team member understands that their role is not just to take bookings and payments and be polite while doing so. They know that their role is to talk, inspire and educate so that the patient has something to talk to their friends about.

Find things to say that are TALK-WORTHY; NOTABLE; UNUSUAL; OUTSTANDING and INTERESTING and get that to lead to more exceptional dentistry. That's how you get referrals. You don't need to beg for them!

For more info, check out www.channeld.com and take advantage of a 60 Day Trial using Coupon Code: MA56.

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