Dentists: Referrals Are Still Your Best Source of New Patients

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Dentists see about 20 new patients a monthIn this survey, the median number of new patients per month was 20, with referrals the leading source of new patients.

  • Referrals are the best source of new patients; 68% of dentists called referrals "very effective."
  • Dental websites, TV ads, and radio ads are "somewhat effective," reported two-thirds of dentists.
  • Dentists were split over direct mail — about a third find it very effective, another third say it’s somewhat effective, and a third say it’s not effective.
  • Yellow pages seem to be falling out of favor; 71% of dentists say that phone book ads are "not effective" at attracting new patients.

Here are some other avenues dentists cited for
targeting dental patients

  • 1-800-DENTIST
  • Advertising
  • Article published in newspaper once or twice monthly
  • Insurance company member dentist lists
  • Other health care providers, i.e. M.D.s, Osteopaths, chiropractors, etc.
  • Our location: we’re very visible from the freeway
  • School Programs

  • Dental signage
  • Word of mouth, listservs

It’s all about referrals

  • "Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals." (Georgia dentist)
  • "Referrals from existing patients are THE BEST sources of our new patients!  Also, we reward the referring patient AND the referred patient with a $25 discount off of future dental care.  We often get GREAT referral patients from our existing patients and it results in a win-win-win situation for everyone involved." (Ohio prosthodontist)

Take a multi-pronged approach

  • "Keeping your name out there using multiple sources seems to be the most effective method of attracting a significant number of new patients." (Tennessee dentist)

Doctor-to-doctor marketing

  • "Networking with other businesses, especially chiropractors, podiatrists and MDs." (New Jersey dentist)

Get involved in the community

  • "Through community involvement, like coaching, service clubs, social organizations like gourmet clubs or newcomers clubs." (Illinois dentist)
  • "We take pamphlets and seasonal items to local businesses, so each month it’s fun and we meet out local merchants." (General dentist)

How many new patients do you need?

  • "At this point, 12 new patients per month is all our practice can handle with one dentist." (North Dakota dentist)
  • "The number of new dental patients is not a good barometer.  A PPO practice getting 20 new patients/month is equivalent to 10 new patients/month in a fee-for-service practice." (Virginia dentist)

The times, they are a-changin’

  • "Yellow pages used to be a fairly good source, but internet access and websites are taking over." (Texas dentist)


Note: Survey sample included 58 respondents.

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