Where did your new patients come from this year?

Magnifying glass: Where are your new patients coming from?Where will you invest your dental marketing dollars this year? Which are your best sources for adding new patients into your practice? Which are the worst? Which ones should you drop and just save your money?

Now is a great time to take a look at your new patients that came to your dental practice in 2011 to find out how they were referred to you. You need to see which dental marketing programs are working and which are not. In Dentrix, you will run 2 reports to find out. The first is the Referred by Patient Report. The second is the Referred by Doctor/Other Report.

The Referred by Patient Report shows you the names of the patients that referred, the names of the new patients they referred, the date the new patient first visited your practice and the total production generated. Be sure to look at the Listed Referrals (those are for the current date lookup) because the Total Referrals include all your years of data since you started working with Dentrix.

You should note the total number of Listed Referrals from this report. It’s important to see this number every year – so you can see if you’re trending up or down (and therefore you know whether to congratulate your team or improve your referral system). It’s also valuable to find out who your major referring patients are – and when you can match a production number to this patient, you can do a better job of thanking them.

The Referred by Doctor/Other Report shows you all the different referral sources – again displayed as Listed Referrals with the date the patient was first seen in the practice and the production generated. I recommend grouping your professional referral sources and adding up the Listed Referrals so again, you can see your trends. You also can see how specific dentist marketing programs are faring – as long as you have added them as referral sources and your secretary team is entering the Referral source when new patients call.

The value of this report is that you can determine the total production for each referral source/dental marketing program – and then you can compare the cost of that program to calculate a return on investment. Let’s say you participated in a local health fair. You paid $50 for the booth, spent $100 on staff salary to work the event and gave away $75 in toothbrushes. Your costs add up to $225. To break even, your total production needs to be at least $225 – and realistically, you know that production does not equal collection. A better guideline is 3:1 – you want to produce at least 3x what the event cost. Using our example, you would want to generate $675 in production in order to count this event as a success.

Look at each major event/dental marketing program you invested in this year – just run a report from your accounting software and look at the payables for marketing/advertising. Match up the expenses with the referral sources in your report and figure out your return on investment. Then, you’ll know which ones you want to repeat and which ones you want to drop. You’ll feel confident in your dental marketing decisions because they will be based on a real analysis and not just your general feeling.

The more you make business decisions in your practice based on measurable results, the more effective you will be with your investments. As Steven Covey says, you will “begin with the end in mind,” knowing that marketing programs need to perform 3:1 or you’re moving on to greener pastures.

If you would like to receive a copy of the specific instructions on how to run these 2 Dentrix reports: Referred by Patient and Referred by Doctor/Other – just send me an email at

For more ideas to improve the business-side of your dental practice:

AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
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