6 Tips to Increase Patient Referrals


By: Ken Runkle

Practices are growing or shrinking. You need referrals to keep growing and you can’t sit around and wait for them to happen. Practices flooded with referrals engage consistent habits that make patients want to send their friends and family to you. Here’s a taste of what they do…


Courteous practices always get more referrals. This may be a no-brainer, but we need to be reminded. You and your staff always need to be consciously courteous to everyone who walks through the door. Your patients are watching.


People don’t like to wait. Make your patients wait and they’ll make you wait for referrals. Always strive to be on time, not only starting the exam but also ending it. Understand that on-time dentistry also affects case acceptance. If you are presenting a case when your patient is already late and needing to rush out the door, the likelihood of them accepting shrinks with every minute you are behind.


Know your patient’s names and use them. People always feel special and more of a connection when someone uses their name.

It makes them feel like a person rather than a patient number. Not only do you want to use a patient’s first name, it’s also important to use the first names of your team members. Patients notice the little things and you want them to know you have a connection with your staff as well.


No one enjoys walking into a place designed for smiles where everyone is frowning. A happy team creates a warm and welcoming environment for your patients to feel at ease. Happiness is contagious. So, when the doors open, you and your team need to put on a happy face.


It’s awkward for the person giving the compliment when it’s deflected or rejected. Humility is important, but it’s also essential to graciously acknowledge another’s positive opinion of you or your work. If a patient gives you a compliment, humbly accept it.


A compliment should always be followed by a request for a referral. Don’t seem desperate, but rather keep it simple, humble, and focused on them.

“Thank you, you are so kind. We’d love to have more patients like you. Would you mind telling your friends about us?”

Let me repeat the end part since it is the most important. Always ask for referrals, not just when someone gives you a compliment. Begin with complimenting them, “We love patients like you.” Let them know what you’d like, “We’d actually love to have more patients like you.” Then ask them to share, “Would you mind telling a friend about us?” People don’t always think to refer, even if they love you and your practice. They need to be asked.

Some of these habits may not be part of your current approach. Don’t wait to implement them. The sooner you begin taking these steps, the sooner they will become a habit for every team member. Referrals are the engine that drives thriving practices. Put these habits in place and watch your practice grow.