4 Easy Ways to Reduce Dental Patient Anxiety

Dental patient anxiety is, unfortunately, quite common. It can range from a mild nervousness to an outright terror that can be classified as a phobia. Some patients actually go out of their way to avoid even needed dental work due to their anxiety. Fortunately, there are some easy ways for dentists to help reduce dental patient anxiety.

Specific Fears

To help your patients combat their dental anxiety, you first need to understand what they are really afraid of. Dental anxiety typically breaks down into 5 specific fears, though many patients have multiple fears.

Pain: While it is true that modern dentistry is virtually painless, many patients have undergone a previous painful experience that makes them afraid of it happening again.

Numbness: Few if any patients actually like having their mouths numbed, but those with a genuine fear of numbness worry that they will not be able to breath or swallow. Patients who have had trouble breathing or experienced choking in the past, even if it was unrelated to dental work, are more likely to have this fear.

“The Dentist”: Patients who have had negative experiences with uncaring dentists tend to categorize dentists in the same way as “the DMV” or “the IRS,” as a cold and unfeeling behemoth or even an active sadist.

Needles: Those who fear needles may be fine with the rest of the procedure, but terrified of the numbing injections.

Sensory Fears: From the sound of the drill to the sights, sounds, smells, and tactile sensations of the average dental office, sensory triggers can be tough for patients to cope with.

Soothing Office Space

Helping your patients cope with their dental anxiety starts when they enter the office. Take a critical look at your reception and waiting areas. Is there a place for patients to speak privately with the receptionist? Is the lighting scheme calming? Does the furniture feel warm and welcoming or cold and sterile? Creating a soothing space can help patients relax from the outset.

Sensory Aids

Many patients can block out their anxieties with sensory aids and distractions. You might play soothing music in the treatment rooms and/or offer chairside movies. Warm blankets provide a physical barrier as well as temperature control. Heated face cloths help patients clean up after a procedure, helping them to decompress and relax before heading home.

Communication

Communication is absolutely essential. Every staff member that patients interact with should know the signs of dental anxiety and how to communicate with nervous patients. The receptionist might offer information on amenities. The hygienist might offer to get the patient a blanket or show her how to operate the remote control. The dentist should take a few minutes to sit with a nervous patient and find out what the fear is, and discuss how to help. For example, a patient might feel more comfortable if the chair is not all the way back, or if she can give a hand signal as a cue she needs a break.

Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry can be a wonderful solution for nervous patients. From mild nitrous oxide to deep IV sedation, there are options for patients with every level of fear. Note that sedation dentistry should only be performed for the patient’s comfort and not to make the dentist’s job easier. Always be sure to offer rather than demand, and never try to talk someone into a sedation option that makes him uncomfortable.

Those with severe dental phobias may need additional help from a mental health professional before they are ready to see the dentist. For the majority of nervous patients, though, a few simple changes to your routine and a dedication to communication can help ease their anxiety.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Three most common problems surrounding dental payroll

Handling payroll is one of the most arduous tasks a dentist/owner has to deal with on a regular basis. Doing it yourself eats up valuable time that would be better spent treating patients. I recently spoke to Jamie Scherban, Senior Business Consultant at Paychex to discusses the most common problems dentists face regarding payroll.

When I started out back in 1983, there was no punching in or punching out. My office worked on the honor system. This worked well until I got into trouble with a disgruntled employee.

I then moved to sign in sheet to a punch clock – both of which also got me into trouble. Obviously administration was not part of what I was taught in dental school. And it showed as I made mistake after mistake until I finally outsourced this part of my practice to someone who knew what they were doing.

A dentist with 6-10 employees can spend anywhere between two to four hours a week focusing on payroll. “Our job is to give that doctor the ability to earn as much as they can based on the hours they work,” according to Scherban. “They should be focusing on their practice rather than focus on this stuff.”

When Scherban comes into a practice, any practice, he generally finds them making the same three mistakes that cost them time and money.

1-Incorrect setup

Did you set up the business correctly with the state and IRS? Even with existing businesses a lot of the time taxes are filed incorrectly because they were set up incorrectly. This results in late filings, penalties and notices from the tax man.

2-Filing taxes on time

Dentists are generally very good at being dentists. However when it comes to general administration duties like payroll tax filing – things can get overlooked. So taxes are not filed on time.

3-Managing employees

How do you manage benefits and time off? How do you track who punched in? Did they punch out?
This takes time away from the core business of being a dentist. So finding a solution that takes these issues off the table reduces the stress and makes the workplace run more smoothly and with less conflict.

In the end it is your responsibility to ensure that everything is properly tracked. If you choose to do it yourself, you are going to spend less time with billable patients which will cost you money. So it just makes sense to outsource this type of admin to a company such as Paychex, so that you can strike one of the least interesting tasks off your to-do list.

Why Every Dentist Needs to Be on Google My Business

Google My Business is among the most important tools you have to convince prospects to choose your dental practice rather than a competitor’s. Yet many dentists know little or nothing about what Google My Business is, why it matters, or how to set it up. Here is what you should know.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business can be viewed as the core of your local SEO (search engine optimization) campaign. Until 2014, Google had quite a few options for business owners including Google Plus pages and Google Places pages. Today, Google My Business unifies all of these diverse pages into a single, streamlined, free tool that puts your business information, photos, and most importantly, reviews all in the same place.

Your Google My Business listing will show up in Google’s Local Maps. If your Google My Business page is fully optimized, you may even show up in the Local Maps 3 Pack search results. As the name suggests, this is a premium listing of the top 3 local dentists as determined by Google’s algorithms.

Setting Up Google My Business

Google My Business should always be used in conjunction with Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These three tools are designed to integrate to give you a complete picture of your overall online performance.

There are three different levels to setting up a Google My Business page. Start at the beginning and work your way through the steps as you have the time.

Beginner: The very first step is to claim and verify your Google My Business page. This lets Google check that you have a legitimate dental practice at the listed address. When verification is complete, you will gain access to the Google My Business dashboard and tools.

Next, you will need to optimize your business NAP (name, address, and phone number). Make sure that your practice name, phone number, and address are correct, and are identical to all other listings you have online.

Intermediate: Photos and videos help prospects learn what to expect. Try to provide a good mix of success stories, behind the scenes peeks, and “getting to know you” clips of yourself and your staff. Encourage satisfied patients to send in photos and videos as well, as prospects always like to hear from their peers.

Reviews are a huge part of any Google My Business page. Ask your existing patients directly to write a review, and consider offering a small incentive like a few dollars off their next cleaning. If you get any negative reviews, do not delete them, but do respond to them. Prospects like to know that if they have an issue, your practice will help them resolve it.

Expert: Use Google Posts to link up your blog. You should already be blogging regularly, as this will keep your website fresh, informative, and up to date. Use the free tools to link your blog to your Google My Business page. Include top-quality photos with each post, along with a call to action that leads readers to your full website.

Monitor your Questions and Answers section. There is no tool to alert you that a question was posted, so you will need to remain proactive. Anyone can answer questions, so it is important to make sure that user-posted answers are accurate. This is also an opportunity to engage directly with your patients and prospects, building credibility and loyalty.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Using online testimonials to promote your dental practice

Many dentists do not realize the tremendous power of online testimonials in bringing in new patients. Yet according to poll data, a whopping 92% of prospective patients claim to read them, and 67% admit to being influenced by them. Here is what you should know about using online testimonials to promote your dental practice.

Benefits of Online Testimonials

Google Visibility: The Google algorithm is built to showcase the most authoritative and relevant websites in Google search. Online testimonials, particularly on multiple sites, assure Google that yours is a legitimate practice with high social proof.

Promotion: Research shows that patients tend to stay longer on websites they trust, especially if there are videos to watch. They are also more likely to actually visit the practice whose website caught their attention. Ask your satisfied patients to record a video testimonial, and you have the seeds of a tremendous promotional campaign.

Trust: Patient testimonials are a powerful way to build trust with both your current patients and your prospects. In fact, your current patients may be more likely to recommend you to their friends and family members when they see that their positive impressions of you are shared by others.

Reputation and Brand Awareness: Every time someone sees your practice reflected in a positive light, it makes an impression. The more testimonials you have, the more power you have to build your reputation and, ultimately your brand. This translates into more patients, more repeat visits, and more positive word of mouth throughout your community.

Insight: You can glean a great deal of information from what your patients say, and don’t say, in their testimonials. Use this opportunity to learn, and you will improve your overall patient experience.

Types of Online Testimonials

Savvy dentists will incorporate all three basic types of testimonials into their online marketing.

Written with a Single Photo: This is still the most common type of testimonial. An eye-catching photo of the patient is used, along with a few sentences about his or her experience.

Before and After Photos: Many patients are reluctant to share their “before” photos with the world, but if you have a few who are willing, these testimonials can be extremely powerful. A written account of the patient’s process accompanies two or more photos documenting the journey.

Videos: A video testimonial should be no longer than one minute, and it must be tightly edited. People enjoy watching their peers talk about their experiences, so don’t be shy in asking for volunteers. Choose patients who are articulate, present well on camera, and are not prone to rambling.

Building a Great Testimonial

Although a testimonial must be presented in the patient’s own words, many patients do not know how to go about describing their experiences. Asking open-ended questions helps the patient frame his journey and build an authentic, but well-presented, narrative. Here are a few possible questions:

  • What, if anything, nearly prevented you from choosing this practice?
  • What made you decide to choose us?
  • What was your favorite part of your experience at our office?
  • What are the top three benefits that our office provides?
  • Briefly describe your journey with our practice from your first appointment through your most recent visit.
  • Would you recommend us to your friends and family and, if so, why?
  • Is there anything you wish someone had told you about our practice before you started treatment here?

These questions will not only help your patients articulate their experiences, but they also provide insights into what your patients value most. In turn, you can focus your marketing efforts on the things that are most important to the highest number of patients, drawing in prospects who value those same features.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Dental Practice Transition Checklist: Making a Smooth Transition

If you are buying an existing dental practice, odds are high that the business side of the transaction is uppermost in your mind. After all, you must work your way through a seemingly endless set of documentation, from the purchase agreement to equipment leases, to ensure that you get a fair deal. Still, though, it is vital to remember that you are a dentist, and that an existing practice comes with an existing patient load and office staff who must be carefully tended to throughout the transition period. Here is a checklist to help you balance both sides of the transition.

Chart Audit

Review 10 percent of the active patient charts, or at least 100 charts. Most definitions of “active patient” state that the person has been seen for care in the past 12 to 18 months, but some dentists define it differently. Determine if your definition of “active” matches that of the selling dentist, or whether you will need to sort through all the charts to reclassify them.

Business Policies

Review any documentation that the practice has regarding patient flow and office management, such as the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Learn the existing policies for everything from missed appointments to staff vacation scheduling. It is fine to change the current policies over time, but for everyone’s sake, try to maintain continuity by not implementing too many changes at once.

Treatment Planning

Review a few charts to compare your own clinical judgment to that of the selling dentist. Note any cases where you seem to wildly disagree. Also consider criteria for case acceptance, clinical proficiency of yourself and the existing staff, areas of treatment interest, and where both you and the selling dentist fall on the spectrum of conservative to experimental treatment. Start making plans for addressing areas where your methodologies are significantly different from those of your predecessor.

Billing and Collections

Review the existing financial arrangements for all aspects of billing and collections. What payment options are accepted? What is the fee schedule, and how does it compare to reimbursement rates and local competitors’ rates? What does the accounts receivable monthly average aging look like? Which insurances are accepted, and what do you need to do to transfer accepted insurance contracts into your name?

Scheduling

Review the existing scheduling process. Are there gaps in the schedule? Is there enough free time to treat emergencies? How far out are basic hygiene appointments scheduled? What about exams? How many complex procedures are on the schedule, and in what time frame?

New Patient Flow

How many new patients are coming in each month? What are the referral sources? What types of marketing are currently implemented, and what is their return on investment? Look for areas that are working well, as well as ways to improve the flow of new patients.

Facility

Thoroughly examine both the inside and the outside of the property with an eye toward possible improvements. Anything from improved street visibility to better grounds maintenance could boost your bottom line. Also take a critical look at the practice through the eyes of a patient: is the waiting area clean and aesthetically pleasing? Are there private spaces to discuss treatment and payment options? Is the design modern, or intentionally a throwback, as opposed to dated and tired? Are there sufficient amenities? What type of charting system is used?

Treatment Rooms

Walk through the treatment rooms to assess the existing setup. Is the lighting sufficient? Are the chairs comfortable and in good condition? Do you have the equipment you want and need, and is it properly sized and placed for the way you like to work? Are there newer pieces of technology you would like to add? Are there adequate supplies, and a streamlined process for procuring new ones? Also, be sure to examine the sterilization equipment, and ask for an inspection certificate from the most recent inspection of the mechanical room.

Lease

Carefully review the existing lease with your attorney. Make sure you understand the remaining term and renewal options. Find out if the current lease is transferrable or if you will need to sign a new one, and check that the terms are competitive with similar leases in the local area.

Staff

Get all the details regarding staff contracts, including compensation rates and benefits. Evaluate the working relationship between the staff and the selling dentist, and get to know each staff member well enough to determine whether they are the right match for you. Work with the selling dentist to inform the staff of the transition, and find out which members of staff do not plan to stay on with you. Make a list of new staff members you will need to hire.

Transitioning an existing dental practice to new ownership can be complex. The more open both you and the selling dentist are with each other, the patients, and the staff, the smoother the transition will be. Take your time and be sure to explore all the details, and you will be in the best possible position to take the business through a smooth transition.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Can you really love the business of dentistry?

As a working dentist who has opened up 14 practices during my career, I am someone who enjoys the challenges of being an entrepreneur.

It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve made costly mistakes (and I still do!). Over the years I’ve learned to roll with the punches while creating systems and best practices that I can successfully replicate over and over again.

But being an entrepreneur takes work. For many dentists, it’s the business of dentistry that really takes a toll. They aren’t prepared to run a practice and they stumble from one crisis to another.

If you can’t find joy in the business aspect of your practice you may eventually burn out.

Unfortunately it’s not getting any easier.

When I started you could make mistakes and learn from them. Today the marketplace has changed. If you don’t get things right the first time, you competition isn’t just the dentist down the street, it’s also the Managed Service Organizations (MSOs) and Dental Service Organizations (DSOs) that are often standing behind them.

I’m proof positive that you can compete and win in this kind of marketplace. I’m also the first to admit that it isn’t for everyone.

Some dentists are happy to have the day to day business and practice management decisions made by someone else. It certainly gives them more time for golf.

If that sounds like something you are interested in then it’s in your best interest to maximize the value of your practice before you talk to an MSO or DSO. If you are going to essentially be working for someone else then you really want to make sure that the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put into your business is reflected in your buy-out.

Before you make any decisions you should speak to someone like myself, who can give you solid guidance on what your best options are going forward. You might discover that with a little coaching you can learn to love the business of dentistry as much as I do.

Or you may decide a better tee time is what you really want from your career.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and his Masters in Health Care Admin. at Western New England University. He currently serves as a faculty member at Tufts. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in talking to Dr. Coughlin the best way is to just give him a call on his cell phone at 413-519-9421

Dental associations need more business education programs

As a dentist it’s very unlikely clinical skills are your biggest challenge. Dental schools are very good at teaching the mechanics of our profession.

What they are not so good at is preparing us for running a business.

For most of us it’s a trial by fire. The average dental graduate comes out of school with a mountain of debt.

According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), the average debt per graduating senior is $287,331 (according to a 2017 survey).

That’s a big hole to dig yourself out of.

And starting a practice of your own isn’t cheap either. According to Bank of America, the average cost to set up a dental practice is just over $400,000.

That’s just the start up costs. Let’s say you’ve managed to secure financing and open your doors. Being a dentist today is not the same as it once was. Where we once were able to grow our business over decades, today there is increased competition from Managed Service Organizations and Dental Service Organizations that can leverage their size and buying power to negotiate better deals than a single dentist can hope to get in their wildest dreams.

At this point you might be thinking that there is really no hope. But that’s not the case. These organizations got where they are in the marketplace because they identified the lack of business experience most dentists bring to the table.

As a working “wet-finger” dentist myself, I believe it is the responsibility of  local, state and national dental associations to help their members learn more about what they are facing and give them the tools to compete against these MSOs and DSOs so they can continue to thrive and grow.

In addition to one-on-one coaching and consulting for dentists, I regularly offer free webinars to dental associations to bring attention to this issue. If you are in a leadership position at your association send me a note and let’s talk about a free session for your members.

If you are a member, make an introduction. Connect me with your programming or education person and I’ll do my best to set something up so you and others in your dental community can learn more about MSO’s, DSOs and corporate dentistry.

Simple Ways to Use Facebook to Grow Your Dental Practice

Facebook is one of the most effective marketing tools dentists have, yet many dentists are unaware of how to harness its power. Some give up before they start, believing that Facebook costs too much time or money, or other common myths. Others try to use Facebook, but they take a shotgun approach rather than following a cohesive plan.

The key to successfully using Facebook to grow your dental practice is to focus on shareable content. Ideally, you will create both a business page, which allows you to push content to those who have shown interest in your practice, and a group, which allows you to interact more directly with your patients and prospects. You can also boost posts to ensure they are seen, and even create paid ads. However, none of these Facebook avenues will do much good unless your content is shareable. Here are a few simple ways to create shareable content.

What Is Shareable Content?

Shareable content is anything that attracts people to like it, comment on it, and most importantly, share it on their own timelines for their friends and family to see. The more interaction a piece of content gets, the more people Facebook will display it to. If those new viewers like, comment, and share, it will be shown to even more people. Eventually, your content could even go viral.

Tell Your Story

People assume that dentists can fix teeth, so telling them that you can is simply wasting words. Prospects shop for a dentist based on unique selling propositions (USPs), such as better technology, a VIP experience, or even community service.

Focus on what sets your practice apart from all the others. Post photos of your staff working on a charity project or posing with the newest machine you just purchased. Tell the story of why you became a dentist and find a way to connect it to something that makes people feel good.

Emotionally evocative patient stories are also a driver for shareable content. Ask for testimonials on how dental work boosted patients’ self-confidence or helped them land a fabulous new job. Focus on how life-changing proper dental care can be.

Use Contests and Promotions to Boost Engagement

Whether it is a free cleaning or a free smile makeover, people love to compete for a prize. Create a contest that requires entrants to like, comment, on and share a particular post within a relatively short time period. You can even hold nomination promotions, in which people nominate their friends for a cosmetic or other nonessential procedure.

Congratulate and Promote

Pay attention to the things your staff and your patients are doing outside of your office. Maybe your receptionist took third place in a local art show, or a long-time patient closed an important new account for her business. Whatever positive things are happening in their lives, give a shout out on your Facebook page and/or group.

Of course, you need to be careful not to violate anyone’s privacy, but with their consent, many people love to see that their accomplishments are being celebrated. You can even ask your followers to share the post on their personal timelines, furthering the congratulations and ultimately encouraging Facebook to display more of your content to a larger group of people.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

How dentists can use Twitter to get more patients

After Facebook, Twitter is arguably the next most important social media platform for dentists attempting to get more patients. Unlike Facebook, however, Twitter moves at a lightning-fast pace. This means that a different strategy is required to stay relevant and keep your practice at the top of prospective patients’ minds. Here are some ways to use Twitter to grow your patient list.

Customer Service

Twitter is a wonderful way to answer patient questions that do not violate confidentiality. All of your Twitter followers can read the answers, and these can be excellent jumping off points for conversations between patients or prospective patients. The longer you can keep someone on your Twitter page, the more he or she will be exposed to your services and branding. And free advice is priceless. If patients can get help on your Twitter page, they are more likely to remain loyal to you.

Tips

Another form of free advice, daily or weekly dental tips can encourage people to remain active and engaged with your Twitter page. You can boost your number of followers by posting signs in your office, complete with your full Twitter URL, encouraging patients to follow you for free tips. Just be sure to always deliver content as promised.

Coupons and Promos

Want to increase your business on consistently slow days? Offer a promotion that provides a discount on a specific service, valid only on a certain day of the week or during a particular month of the year. Twitter is an easy way to announce these promotions without spending a lot of money on advertising.

Patient Insights

If you are interested in tweaking your practices to better fit your patients, Twitter is a natural place to ask patients what they like and dislike. For example, you might toss out a general question such as, “What one thing could we do better?” Or you might ask for more specific feedback: “If you have had a filling since we switched to laser dentistry, how do you think the new procedure compares to the old way?”

Networking

One of the most valuable aspects of Twitter is its tremendous networking capacity. Follow others in your industry and regularly retweet their content to help your patients. Join various dental events throughout the year, and be sure to post about them on Twitter using the event’s dedicated hashtag. You can also stay on top of trends and current events that may give you ideas for content to create.

Community Connections

Be sure to follow other small businesses and organizations in your community. This helps build your standing in the community, shows other local businesses that you are open to networking, and helps to strengthen your credibility and your relationships with both current and prospective patients. You can also search twitter.com for your city to find people’s questions about dentistry, and then respond to them. This can help you build connections with those who need oral care.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Grow your practice with a targeted referral strategy

We all want more clients. If you want your practice to grow one of the best metrics you can use to track success and predict future growth is how many new patients come through your door each month vs those you lose.

There are many strategies you can use to keep your funnel full, including advertising and sponsorships that will help increase your brand recognition. However one of the most significant things we can do in the healthcare industry to improve our businesses is increase referrals from existing clients.

I recently spoke to Stacey Brown Randall from Growth by Referrals about how a properly implemented referral strategy can help dentists get more of the patients “they want” to choose their practice.

“First you need to be willing to touch business development everyday,” says Randall.

“When I started paying attention to how we are taught to do referrals – which is to ask – it really sounded like a cold call to me.”

For Randall “the ask” was a significant barrier. So she developed a system whereby you identify who the clients you already have that you would like to have more of and turn those existing patients into advocates for your business by going beyond once or twice a year contacts and actually offering the type of client experience that keeps you top of mind.

“We typically refer people who are like us,” says Randall. “However only 20% to 30% of clients refer on a consistent basis. So you need to have the right client experience and referral strategy in place so that when opportunities for referral occur people are saying ‘you have got to go see my dentist’.”

This is a great point as it does not simply mean that you are increasing the number of referrals – but also the quality of those who are referred.

If dentists do their tracking properly there is always a referral source. Whether it’s a personal referral, or a referral from an insurance company or even another healthcare professional.

“A lot of referrals should be coming from other practitioners,” says Randall. “So dentists and other healthcare professionals should be cultivating those relationships.”

If you would like to learn more about Stacey you can visit her site www.GrowthByReferrals.com.


Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.