Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. Sometimes the answer is right in front of you and you really don’t see it. Your team can be the key to increased patients and better direct referrals. When money is tight, and new patients are at a premium, try the Team Generated Marketing strategy.
I had just returned from a three-decade reunion of my dental class, and while there, felt a little embarrassed. Like you, we were arranged by alphabetical order, so students I knew best were those 5 or 6 that sat next to me. Now fast-forward 30 years. Everyone’s hairline, waistline, and bottom line had changed enough that I found myself not really recognizing a lot of attendees that I should have known on sight. Those little nametags were difficult from across the room with bifocals. The minute I got back to my office, I changed the way everyone dressed. Across the back of every scrub and lab coat in 1.5 inch letters went “McKinneyDentist.com” and over the pocket we stitched the name and position of every staff member. By golly you could read those things from across a crowded room and there was no doubt that each and every one of us was either a dentist or worked for a dental office. Guess what, our new patients increased dramatically!
We also gave every employee their own business card with a statement on the back that read: “If you present this card on or before ____________, we will happily do an exam, necessary X-rays, and a consultation for just $1.00. This is a gift from __________________.” (The staff member would just fill in their name and a date a couple of weeks out and we would pay that staff member $20 for every patient that came in because of their referral). I always paid this in cash at our monthly staff meeting. There were staff members who got hundreds of dollars each month. It was as if they gave those cards away everywhere, because any time they were moving to and from the office, going to lunch, or stopping off at a store, people would stop and ask: “Do you work for a dentist”? They would simply whip out the card and give it to them like it was a closely guarded secret. We even made it a bit of a game by graphing how many each team member gave out each month and rewarding the winner with a pedicure, car wash, message, etc., just something fun but moderate in price. The staff began to compete with one another to really out do the person next to them.
You have to ask yourself: “How many new patients would you be willing to buy for $20 a person?” What about an entire family? I don’t know about you, but I would take as many as I could get. I would go to the bank and get a loan to pay that for every patient. Don’t discount the brilliance of simplicity.
The ripple effect of this Team Generated referral strategy is that this new patient has a friend that referred them. You never know what the down line of a marketing patient will be when you inspire them with the incredible culture of your office. It’s almost contagious when you see the face of a person that you just went out of your way to present this offer to. In a way you are really not discounting your fees as much as you are giving the patient a low stress way to meet you, find out what is wrong, and what it would take to fix it. We find that second only to direct referrals from existing patients is this Team Generated referral. It is truly awesome. This is completely different from other marketing strategies. One surprising effect of employees handing out cards to encourage the people they meet to frequent our business was the increased satisfaction in our office and doctors from the staff. They made us look like rock stars while really embracing an ownership mentality. They really took pride in each and every aspect of their office and they wanted everyone to experience the culture they believed in and loved. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS