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The Problem With Referral Program Incentives For Dentists

By July 13, 2011 September 23rd, 2021 No Comments

IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT BUSINESS YOU’RE IN—INCLUDING DENTISTRY… We all love referrals, right? And dental patient referrals can be one lifeblood for a dental practice marekting campaign. The great news is that, typically, patients who come to your practice as referrals from existing patients are more loyal, better prepared, and longer-term patients than those who become patients through coupons or loss-leader efforts.

Over the next several months, there are a number of topics related to generating referrals that we would like to address, including dental website offers, running ads for dental search engine marketing, and dental SEO tactics. However, today we are focusing on one narrow component of this important discussion.

You CAN Offer Gifts to New Patients, But NOT as an Inducement For Referrals

Although every state’s laws differ, as a rule, payments for referrals are unlawful.

Kathleen Johnson at Trojan Professional Services (consultants to the dental industry) recently published the following helpful information:

“According to the Business and Professions Code Section 650 (California):
‘… the offer, delivery, receipt, or acceptance by any person licensed under this division. of any rebate, refund, commission, preference, patronage dividend, discount, or other consideration, whether in the form of money or otherwise, as compensation or inducement for referring patients, clients, or customers to any person, is unlawful.’

Compensation includes ‘thanking’ your patients with gift cards, credits on their accounts, or other items of value that are intended to reward them for their referrals of patients to your dental practice. A dentist cannot tell patients, or advertise to patients and the public, that he or she will compensate them—in the form of money or otherwise—for a patient referral.” (you may read Kathleen’s full post here).

If you’re interested in more legal jargon from an attorney about this issue, watch the video below. Although most of this information is specific to Michigan laws, it’s likely similar to laws in your state.

Although many of our valued clients ask us to help them develop referral promotions that include incentives, we are not able to assist them. HOWEVER, there are lots of other great ways that a true “social practice” can encourage, cultivate, and generate referrals!

Getting Started with Referral Social Media Marketing

A referral is a dental social media strategy that is great for dentists. Dentist social media marketing is important for social media because it gives people something to talk about. A dentist social media marketing campaign can be beneficial because, typically, patients who come to the practice as referrals from other patients are more loyal and better prepared than those who become patients through coupons or loss-leader efforts.

Customers are more satisfied with social media services, and social media marketing for a dental practice is a popular method of socializing to customers.

There’s no doubt social media has transformed the way many of us do business – whether we’re a dentist social media marketer or not. And social media has changed the face of how most people communicate. In fact, social media has even become the preferred mode for most 16-24 year olds when it comes to staying in touch with friends and family… meaning this demographic is less likely to make phone calls!

Get Started Today Finding New Patients with Dental Social Media Marketing

About the Author: Blake Hadley is the president of My Social Practice located in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is passionate about helping dental practices grow their patient base exponentially by using digital dental marketing strategies. If you’d like to book Blake to speak at your next event you can do that on our dental marketing expert page.

Do you have an opinion on this topic? We’d love to hear it below.