Dental Marketing Guy

14 Dental Professionals on Earning Referrals

How can you earn more referrals for your dental-centric business?  14 dental professionals tell us what they do differently to earn referrals:

"We employ one of the most difficult strategies out there to earn referrals...we ask! I know, it sounds simple. But we do what we ask our clients to do when they are seeking new patients! We focus on delivering great service, providing great results, which makes it easy to ask happy clients to refer to friends and colleagues." - Laura Maly,

Laura Maly Wonderist Agency

"Have amazing customer service, be unique and offer an in-office dental savings plan, like QDP (Quality Dental Plan). Someone my forget what you say to them but they will never forget how you made them feel. Having superior customer service is essential. In any business, you can compete on Quality, Cost, and Service. Patients usually do not know what quality dentistry is. They trust us to provide the best and we should. Most patients think dentistry is expensive no matter what you charge. Where you can have the most noticeable impact on how someone feels is with the service you provide. Cost is the number one reason why people don't go to the dentist. Many times this comes down to not having insurance. Why not offer them an option that makes more sense than traditional insurance. With about 50% of the population not having dental benefits, QDP allows your team to obtain referrals because so many people know others without dental benefits. It's quite a powerful message to share, 'No Insurance? No Problem!' call my dentist, they can help" - Dan Marut, DMD

Dan Marut DMD

"Our referral based systems all have roots in Dr. Robert Cialdini's Principles of Persuasion.

1. We use a software from Social Dental where we have an ipad mini, we take photos of our patients with neat little signs they've created for us and then we text them that photo through the software and email it to them. In the email it asks them to "share" with their friends or anyone who is looking for a good dentist and it has a link for them to find our office and call. This taps into the Principles of Liking and Reciprocity and encourages patients to share the photo we took together and asks them for the referral.

2. I've developed a referral program that uses 5 of the 6 Principles of Persuasion and have also made it a bonus system for my team as well to motivate them to ask for more referrals. One of the key components of the system is Reciprocity. The idea that if you give someone a gift of value, they feel the need to reciprocate or give back. The best gift I could come up with that the masses would value is a gift card for free food, drink, services such as massages, nail salon services, etc. I've partnered with area business to allow me to give my patients a $5, $10, sometimes up to $75 gift card to my patients that they can use with these businesses. I pay to print the gift cards, about 24 cents each and the businesses agree that if my patients show up and use the card, they honor the "gift" amount and take it off their bill. This is a win-win-win. It's a win for my patients b/c I only use businesses that I would refer people to anyway. Places I feel they need to know about and frequent so the patient would appreciate now knowing about this business. It's a win for the business b/c I'm promoting them to my patient base on their behalf and it's the best marketing money they could spend b/c it only cost them when the new client shows up. If they do they part, the customer will return and do more business with them. It's a win for my office b/c I leverage the power of Reciprocity in that moment the gift is given. When the patient thanks us for the gift, that is the time we then ask if they know of someone they could refer us to. We then complete a series of steps using more of the principles to help set the stage for more referrals to show up. For myself and others who have adapted the full system, they've seen their referral numbers double or triple. Make it a bonus for your team and watch the numbers go higher." - Dr. Christopher Phelps,

Dr Phelps Helps

"I believe in social proof, meaning when someone visits YouTube and searches for a video to watch, there are usually many videos under the same search. so which one do you pick? usually the ones with the highest views?

Same thing applies to dentistry -- get more reviews and when people search you, high reviewed practices will cause patients to consciously or unconsciously pick you. The larger the difference, the more powerful the effect e.g. if you can get 100 reviews and other surrounding offices have 5-6, then the decision for the patient is likely made before they even call your office to schedule." - Dr. Tuan Pham,


"We ask patients some of the following questions:
'we love seeing you here and we would love to see your family and friends here. Please give them this card. You and the person you refer will get a $25 gift certificate to our practice.'
'I know I have seen ya a few times but I don't I have met your husband/wife yet. Does he/she have a dentist?'
'We see a lot of patients from XXXXX employer and we would love to see your co-workers if they don't have a dentist. Please give them this referral card and both of you will get a $25 gift certificate to our practice'
'Thank you for being an amazing patient. If you think your family and friends need a checkup, please give them my card'
It's best to customize a little bit and keep it fresh." - Dr. Sunny Pahouja,

Dr. Sunny Pahouja

“I spoil my clients and deliver on what I promise and then some. I put my heart into helping their business grow as if it were my own and become their biggest support system.

When my clients learn my fail proof techniques and gain new patients, as well as, see their team energized the final results shows more revenue within their practice. This is when my clients are thrilled to send over a simple video testimonial and refer other dentists to me.” - Coach Heidi Mount,

Coach Heidi Mount

"Probably the most important thing we do is having a very relationship based practice. We get to know people and their needs and desires for their dental health well, and NEVER try to "sell" anyone anything. I view practice as a marathon, and I want to keep patients long term." - Dr. Matt Bickel

Dr. Matt Bickel

" I have to say that since acquiring my solo GP practice in 1997 I have done NO external marketing outside of the occasional youth sports team sponsorship when my children were actively involved in soccer and football. I am in a "bedroom community" of approximately 25-45k population with the largest 3 employers being California State Workers (prison,state hospital and teachers) followed by county workers( i.e. there is no significant private industrial base). Internal patient referrals had quadrupled my active pt pool by the first 5-7 years.

I would say any distinguishing practice characteristics would center around fundamental efforts to develop personal connections with our patients

1) I spend 45mins -1 hr with initial exams and try to listen closely to the Patients needs and wants.. The patient and I take a visual ( IO camera) tour of the pt's presenting oral condition. We use the Velscope and record TMJ and occlusal status.

2) We try to have fun and don't necessarily present the most solemn environment....My staff have great personalities and we enjoy keeping the atmosphere light. I enjoy connecting with my patients and want them happy!

3) when there is an after hours need from an established pt they call my cell phone.

4) I am compassionate and gentle with the anesthetic (slow delivery, use soft tissue manipulation and pressure as a distraction).

5) I frequently call patients the evening after invasive work to check on their status, comfort and to answer any new questions or concerns they may have.

Times are changing and generational patient characteristics change with them. I think we need a web presence to diversify our patient pool and reach younger generations. I hope this will lead to new vehicles through which we can offer personalized service. I intend to translate our longstanding quest for patient engagement and care into whatever new methods become available to 'earn' referrals and meet their changing wants and needs." - Dr. Kevin Farr,

Kevin Farr

"We're the only dental website & marketing company that does custom work on top of an easy-to-use dental website software platform practices can edit themselves." - Jeff Gladnick,

Jeff Gladnick

"For us it is having clear points of difference. Lip balm is highly competitive, especially in the dental arena. We pride ourselves on our unique formula.

We have developed a lip balm the is neither waxy nor greasy. We use only the best natural and organic ingredients. Having a point of difference – something you clearly do better than anyone else – helps to separate your business from the competition. We view every lip balm recipient as an advertising medium.
If you impress your customer (patient) with something out of the ordinary, they will surely want to share." - Jeffrey Young

"We've found that often the best way to get referrals is to give them.
I know - that by itself isn't a revolutionary idea. But what we do that is a little out of the norm is make some referrals to companies that are technically our competitors.

While SEO is our main offering, we also design dental websites and manage PPC campaigns. But in many cases we will send people to other firms that specialize in just building dental websites, rather than offering to build it ourselves. As a result we've received a number of referrals back from those same businesses. And a lead that comes in from someone that the client already trusts - like their website designer - is much stronger than one that comes from someone that finds us in a cold Google search.

Directing a lead that isn't a perfect match for our company to someone else will often turn into one or more referrals that are a better fit." - Steve Brown,

"We treat each patient as a guest rather than a customer. By treating people the way we would like to be cared for, we create an environment that is energetic, fun and demonstrated the best service possible for our patients." - Dr. Tyler Williams,

Tyler Williams

"We 'wow' patients.
That means something different for every patient, but that is our goal for all of our patients. Walking elderly patient to the bus stop and waiting with them, completely painless injection, sweeping back new patient emergencies and having their them patched up in 20 minutes, and remembering where in the movie they were for their next patient are just some of the ways in which patients tell us they are blown away. So if your team's goal is to "wow" your patients, you'll find a way." - Andrew Turchin, DMD,

doctor andrew turchin dentist

" For most practices, patient referrals are the #1 way to grow the business. However, there are 2 challenges with referrals.
First, it can be awkward for the front-desk staff to "ask" for referrals.
Second, even if patients are asked, they may not know which one of their friends requires care.
With Connect the Doc, we solve these 2 problems. The staff can ask for referrals by email or text message and the patients are able to do a "social referral" where they are effectively sharing a trackable referral link on social media.
The link is connected to the practice's profile page on Connect the Doc which has appointments that can be booked or requested. Everything is tracked. " - Nadeem Kassam,


Learn more at the best dental marketing blog.


About the Author - Justin Morgan

Justin Morgan is the CEO and founder of what most of us affectionately refer to as the “DMG.” From all circles within the dental industry who address dental marketing as a topic, Justin Morgan is the dental marketing guy that everyone keeps talking about.
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