Cultivate Relationships and Be Rewarded with Referrals from Your Dental Patients


Cultivate Relationships and Be Rewarded with Referrals from Your Dental Patients

Aug 01, 2021

It can feel somewhat like fishing-for-compliments. Even so, there’s a high value in requesting dental referrals from your patients.

Manufacturing “praise” isn’t what we’re talking about…at all. In fact, effective referral relationships happen naturally – as a part of routine conversations.

We’re not at that level…

Many relationships progress to a point where they dominate one’s consciousness (love’s that way…right?). Let’s clear the air by saying that it’s not likely a dental patient’s relationship with your practice will rise to that high of an emotional level.

Still, there’s much to be learned from relational dynamics that help you get a healthy amount of dental patient referrals. Keep in mind that the greater the level of referrals you receive, the less you will have to work at other practice growth strategies.

It would be nice to have a steady stream of patient referrals. Cultivate relationships with your current patient base, and your referrals could increase.

How to build a relationship with your dental patients that they’ll reward with referrals

Give them something to talk about

We’re not talking headline-making stuff. It’s more about focusing on those uncommon factors that produce an outstanding patient experience.

Perhaps that’s where the focus should be – your patient experience. But, at a deeper level, it’s helping your patients connect with your practice or DSO’s story.

Marketing can easily entropy to being promotional or salesy. However, referrals have a tough time getting traction if that’s your core marketing message.

Again, the “uncommon” experience mindset can deliver a more compelling reason for patients to talk up your practice and services.

Think of it like telling your practice’s “story.”

  • Make everything as personal as possible. For example, office tours (virtually and in-person), one-on-one team member connections, front-desk familiarity, personalized communication via email and text, etc., help patients establish personal relationships with you/your team.
  • Spotlight your service and technology benefits. It’s easy to showcase your top-shelf investments and innovations, but patients want to know what’s in it for them.
  • Bring as much of your community/region into your office as possible. Feature local artist’s work, provide locally sourced coffees, teas, snacks, patient appreciation gifts, etc.

The more personalized your dental experience, the more personal your patients are likely to be about it with their personal network.

Include them in the conversation

There are a number of talking points as a patient prepares to depart your dental office.


  • Referrals!

It’s best if you craft a narrative that keeps a referral request part of the natural flow of your patient conversations at check-out (emphasis on natural).

  • Avoid sounding like a referral is an after-thought.
  • Simply ask for a referral. Something like, “Sounds like you had a great experience today with (Dr. name or Hygienist’s name, etc.). We always appreciate you telling someone about us….”
  • Encourage online reviews too. Some patients might feel more confident behind their smartphone or device keyboard. Reviews and referrals are closely aligned – treat them that way.

Be searchable

Word-of-mouth will most often lead to an online search. If so, it’s essential that you’re there – online!

It’s somewhat of a reflex response to search online when a friend, family member, or co-worker talks up a business or service. And once they’ve found you and done a bit of sleuthing around your site or social media channels, they’ll probably browse a few online referral sources (e.g. reviews and comments).

Being found is fundamental! Being searchable is about SEO, content relevance, and review friendliness.

Maps, location data, and easy-access contact points are of equal value.

Keep it real (and legal)

Referral incentives are okay. But make sure (like your marketing) they don’t come off promotional or salesy.

  • Follow Federal, State, and Local guidelines for referral incentives or inducements. Seek legal guidance before you promote a referral-connected “give-away” strategy.
  • Make sure your incentive aligns with your overall messaging posture about referrals. Avoid “baiting” your patients too frequently.
  • Default to creating a patient experience that naturally produces a referral. Too many incentives and patients could feel duped instead of loyal.

Keep referrals in context. They perhaps won’t be your primary marketing initiative. But the best patient experiences will increase their leverage for attracting new patients.

Check out the following resources to gain insight into how you can improve your new patient acquisition and overall patient experience:

Use Data and Technology to Create Extraordinary Patient Retention Outcomes

Create Long-term Relationships with Data-Driven Dental Patient Communication

Support your referral system with data-driven tools that can help your DSO, group practice or solo private practice acquire loyal patients

The Jarvis Analytics platform helps assure that you’re tracking the important metrics and staying on track during your morning huddles and overall practice or DSO goals.


  • Integrates seamlessly with your chosen practice management software/platform
  • Presents the metrics you want and need in an easy-to-view dental dashboard that reduces data complexity for growing dental practices, dental groups, and DSOs

Experience Jarvis in action. Request a demo today!


Contact us for more information about data tracking that leads to profitability.


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