As part of a consistent patient pleasing strategy, we need to define a clear plan for patient referral rewards. Current surveys suggest that direct patient-to-patient referrals may be the largest percentage of your referral pool. Let’s tap into this pool and commit to an active referral program!

Appoint a designated Referral Coordinator (RC). This person may be the primary staff member who greets and/or checks out each patient, may be a member of your Patient Rewards Team (PRT), or even an enthusiastic team member with frequent patient interaction. The RC may be the sole team member asking for referrals, or he/she may be the lead with select team members following suit.

Ask for referrals or other desired action daily! Prompt the patient at checkout by asking how the treatment went. Then respond to positive feedback by asking for a referral (AFR). Here we should present an offer card, also known as an “Asking for Referral” card.

Alternate the referral cards quarterly to keep patients interested in the process. The RC may assign one to two front office team members to pass out the referral cards. You may want to alternate the designated person. (Please note: I have not experienced success with assigning the full team to this task. I prefer that a designated group or individual be in charge of implementing this promotion.)

Keep track of the referral source daily, and examine tracking results monthly. Keep the returned AFR cards as a back-up tracking system. The card should clearly state that it must be brought to the appointment.

Let’s discuss rewarding referring patients. I recommend a simple reward system and a layered drawing for returned AFR cards. As an example, reward the referring patient a $25 gift card and the recipient a dollar amount off treatment or a free service (free exam, pano, records, etc).

A layered prize may be the “of the moment” item such as an iPad, family theme park tickets, etc. All returned AFR cards are put into a bowl, and a winner is selected quarterly.

Support these efforts with professionally created AFR cards, signage, e-blasts, Facebook announcements, and posters. Script your team for a consistent message:

Mrs. Jones, I’d like to offer you a $25 gift card as a thank you for referring a patient to our office. We would also like to extend a (insert recipient offer) to any friends or family you may wish to refer. In addition we are holding a quarterly drawing for (prize). Pass this card along to anyone who may need our services!

Direct patient referrals are a key component of a successful marketing plan. Select team members “on fire” for the practice and watch this segment of your practice grow beyond expectations! OP

In Part 4, Nancy Hyman will discuss web-based and in-office support when it comes to a strategic internal referral program.

Nancy Hyman is a speaker and practice growth consultant specializing in referral systems and increased case acceptance exclusively for the orthodontic industry. She developed the Practice Representative program for the Practice Builders orthodontic division and established marketing plans for their clients. She now shares this same program through Ortho Referral Systems. Nancy is the author of “Winning Marketing Strategies.” She can be contacted at [email protected].