This is fairly typical email I receive so I thought I would answer it via the blog.
I have been listening to your podcasts and enjoy them.
A problem I have been struggling with is “As a dentist how do I ask for referrals from a patient of mine yet maintain my ‘professionalism
The key is to change how you think about referrals and how you approach them with your clients.
First, you have to change how you think about them. If you have your clients best interests at heart you are doing them a disservice if you don’t also systematically extend your care to their friends and family.
Second, the most professional thing you can do is to set the referral expectation up front. If you know that your practice provides an exceptional experience, then make referrals part of the deal. Don’t wait and come back asking, make it an expectation up front.
When a new client comes to your practice, simply explain that you work primarily by referral and that you know they will be so thrilled with their new dentist that part of their responsibility is to provide you with 3 referrals on their next visit – if fact, go one step beyond and close your practice to referred patients only. If you want in, you must be referred. If you want to stay, you must make referrals.
Make sure that your marketing materials, your waiting room communications and your staff all speak to the referral point of view.
Then, do something exceptional. Add something to your practice that makes people talk about you. I read about a dentist in Australia that baked cookies in the office and gave them out as patients left.
Great smells in a dentist office!
This type of strategy takes some nerve, but it will become your primary marketing tool and almost guarantees that your practice is filled with clients that greatly value what you do – life’s too short to work with anyone else.