Where are the New Patients?

If your new patient flow has yet to return to pre-recession levels, you are not alone.  Most of the dental practice management clients we have are still experiencing less than robust new patient numbers.  And the most recent McGill Advisory newsletter reported the third straight year of declining new patients in their dental practice survey.

I work with several dentists who have bucked that trend, and they all have the same thing in common: each and every day they ask for referrals.  The doctors and dental teams have moved past concerns about “looking desperate.”  Instead, they put themselves into the shoes of patients, who appreciate the care they receive, and the teams realize that asking for a referral is the same as offering a compliment.

Think about your own experiences with doctors.  If you feel well taken care of, if you enjoy your interactions with the doctor and team, and if you feel a sense of loyalty to the practice, it’s a compliment to have a member of the team say, “We would love to have more patients like you.  Please tell your friends and family about us.”

I have yet to see a dental practice not experience an increase in new patients when the doctor and team consistently ask for referrals.  One of the best ways to ingrain this habit is to use the morning huddle to select patients to ask.  And then approach this practice building technique with enthusiasm.

While it is true that new patients are harder to come by, this is no excuse for doing the same old thing and then blaming the economy when it doesn’t work.  Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.   If you want to see better results with your new patient flow, challenge yourself and your team to ask for referrals.

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