5 Ways to Increase Your Dental Patient Referral Marketing Program

Who doesn’t enjoy a good reward? There’s a reason why so many credit cards and retail stores make use of rewards programs – it’s because they work. They incentivize repeat business, as well as increasing brand loyalty and awareness. It’s a win-win where both the customer and business get something worthwhile.


A well-designed patient referral program can be just as lucrative for you and your patients. Your dental practice gets the new patients it needs to grow, and your best patients get rewarded for every referral they send your way.

Tap into that market and get your practice’s name out there by utilizing these easy and effective techniques to boost your patient referral program.

1. Follow Through and Follow Up

Your patient referral program will operate much more smoothly if you make use of referral cards. It gives your patients something tangible to hold onto and makes it easy to track who they’re referring to you.

Try creating a template form that has all the applicable information already filled out, leaving space for the patients to write their own name to get credit for the referral. It’s just a matter of presenting the form to your patients either before or after their appointment and letting them handle the rest!

Don’t forget to follow up with anyone who refers a patient to your practice either. A handwritten note in the mail is an especially nice touch, but email works just fine if you don’t have much time to spare.

2. Easy Does It 

Your patient referral program won’t get the results you want if it’s too difficult to understand or if your patients don’t even know about it in the first place!

Be sure that whatever program you implement has clearly outlined rules and is easy for them to participate in. Be sure to make your patients aware of the program as well, it should be featured prominently on your website and social media accounts.

You can even include information about the program on your invoices or as a footer in your emails and appointment confirmation correspondences. Keep it at the front of your patient’s minds and they’re much more likely to remember to send new patients your way.

3. Involve Your Staff

Every marketing plan works better when you have your staff buy into it and give them a sense of meaningful involvement. Who better to get your patients involved in your referral program than the smiling faces that they see at the front desk every time they visit?

Your staff should already feel empowered to make every patient feel as welcome and comfortable as possible, so have them go the extra mile and act as your “program ambassadors” from check-in to follow-up. Even something as small as adding a referral form to their post-visit goodie bag or mentioning the program over a follow-up call can lead to more new patients coming to your practice.

4. Start with Your Best Patients

You know those patients that you always love to see in the dentist’s chair? The ones who always let you know how much they appreciate the kind and skillful work you provide? These are the best patients to launch any referral program with. They’ve probably already been singing your praises to their friends and family, so give them that extra push to refer them to you. You can incentivize and award them for their continued loyalty by offering them exclusive rewards for participating first.

Remember the 80/20 rule, roughly 80% of your new referrals will be coming from 20% of those at your practice – and that includes patients, staff, friends and family. Begin with that steady base and then build your list from there.

5. Make it Worth Their While

No one wants to participate in a referral program that doesn’t offer compelling rewards. It’s the adult equivalent of turning in thousands of arcade tickets just to get a comb or harmonica.

When you’re creating your referral program, be sure that you’re offering rewards that your patients will actually want to start earning.

Some effective starting rewards could include:

  • Gift cards to local businesses (a great way to cross-promote your business and theirs) or online retailers
  • Invitations to hosted events (either ones put on by your office or through other businesses)
  • Discounts on specific dental treatments such as teeth cleaning or whitening
  • Tickets for larger monthly prize drawings (the bigger the better)

Any of these rewards requires an investment on your part, but the dividends worth it. Every new patient you receive is one that you can convert to a patient for life, and all that dental work over the years will certainly outweigh your initial spend.

No practice is too big or too small to get a boost from word of mouth marketing like a patient referral program. You can craft the perfect program that gets your existing patients excited to be involved and gives your new patients a reason to keep coming back – give it a try and see the results for yourself!

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Topics: practice growth