A Way to Find More of Your Ideal New Patients
Episode #298 with Dr. Daren Becker
How do you find more high-quality patients who are ideal for your practice? Today’s guest, Dr. Daren Becker, is here to share how he developed a community of specialists and patients that became his ultimate referral source. Kirk Behrendt and Dr. Becker discuss the importance of referrals from specialists, how to ask for referrals from patients, and how to get high-quality referrals more consistently. For advice on finding new patients that will help your practice grow, listen to Episode 298 of The Best Practices Show!
Work with other specialists and create a referral source.
Find specialists who are aligned with your thinking.
If you can't find a community that is aligned with your thinking, develop it!
Build relationships and trust with your patients.
Also build your patients’ awareness and understanding of their issues.
Do a post-treatment celebration with patients — even if it seems awkward.
Mass referrals can be great, but you won't have time to do dentistry.
Ask for referrals from patients you love working with. They will send you similar patients!
Find a mentor!
“The thing that I think I offer to my patients that may not be the routine in a general dentist practice is the idea of working with patients that have complex, interdisciplinary type of needs . . . I think for a lot of patients, their experience [of that] is very disjointed. And what we try to do is make that very congruous and harmonious.” (07:01—07:38)
“If I saw 20 or 30 new patients a month, I wouldn't have any time to do dentistry. I would just be seeing new patients to get five qualified new patients that need what I do — what I love to do. And so, for us, it became a necessity to get the number down to maybe 10 or 12 new patients a month, but have it be like 80% of those are going to be high-quality, highly-referred patients that are coming to me saying, ‘I need what you do.’” (08:48—09:24)
“We basically started working with our specialists . . . We have this group practice mentality, and we get together on a very routine basis — it’s scheduled in Dentrix — that we have a meeting every month, or sometimes more, to discuss and go over whatever the cases are that we have to talk about . . . That has developed into a referral source . . . For 2019, 85% of the new patients we saw were referred to us from one of our specialists. And the rest were referred from existing patients.” (09:39—10:52)
“Doing a comprehensive exam on every new patient, that is my goal for every new patient. Do we hit it 100% of the time? No. Do we hit it 80% or 85% of the time? Yes. But why is that? Because that's our standard. And we try to stick to that, and so that's what patients expect in our office. And now, patients call asking for that, ‘Hey, you saw my friend . . . I want that same exam or experience that they had.’ So, by staying consistent and staying true to your core beliefs, that just becomes what happens.” (17:47—18:39)
“If you want to do more complex interdisciplinary cases and you want to work with a specialist team that is going to refer you patients, ultimately, then you just have to start doing it. Like I say, I was going to these meetings without a single patient to talk about. Back then, we had charts. I would walk in with one chart, no chart — didn't matter. I was going to be there for the conversation of the other cases that were going on. And then, that's how that grew.” (19:09—19:40)
“It’s building the relationship, it’s building the trust, it’s building the patients’ awareness and understanding of their particular issues, concerns, problems. And once the patient has that ownership, it’s so much easier to talk to them because then they come ask you, ‘Well, what are we going to do about this? How are we going to solve this? How am I going to make sure that this doesn't get worse?’” (24:15—24:45)
“At some point, you get to an end point where we've now addressed all of the underlying concerns, and we’ve left you in a very stable, functional, healthy, aesthetically pleasing situation. And it’s time to pat ourselves on the back, and pat the patient on the back for making good choices, and celebrate and remind the patient where they started — because they all forget — and to say, ‘Here’s your before picture. Here’s where you are now. These are your responsibilities to maintain this. This is our responsibility to help you maintain this,’ and bringing in the team that helped us get there and celebrating.’” (25:18—26:02)
“Almost always, there's some compliment [after the treatment]. And we’re going to take that compliment and turn it into a request for a very specific referral. We’re going to say, ‘Mrs. Jones, thank you so much. I enjoyed working with you over this past year-and-a-half so much. You've been a joy to work with. I hope you just love your final . . . If you know any one specific person who you think would benefit from the same kind of care that you received, please let them know we would love to see them. And let the front desk know who that is so we can roll out the red carpet for them.’ And that's the difference between asking every patient to send us everybody they know.” (26:25—27:23)
“I do think asking for referrals from as many people as you can is great. Make sure it’s people you like. Because if it’s somebody who you struggle working with and you ask them for referrals, oh, I promise you they're going to send you patients. But it’s going to be more people like them. Do it with people who you like, who you enjoy working with, and who seem to want what's best for them — and of course show up and pay you. And all of a sudden, instead of having to see 20 people to get five great patients, you see five to get five great patients.” (27:27—28:05)
“95% don't do [post-treatment celebrations with patients] because I think, initially, it feels awkward. And maybe they just never thought about it. They might want to celebrate, ‘Look, we’ve been through a lot together. We’ve been through the trenches, man. We went to war together to get your mouth where you wanted it, and where it needed to be, and where it’s going to be now, stable for the next 20 or more years where you're not going to need any dental care other than routine maintenance. We’ve done that. Let's celebrate.’ I think a lot of dentists want to do that, and the team wants to do that too.” (28:13—28:47)
“I'm going to use a pediatrician as an example, for anybody who has little kids. You may get referred from a friend to go to X, Y, Z pediatrician in your town. And you call up and, ‘Oh, Dr. Wonderful is not taking new patients.’ And that's a common thing at a pediatrician’s office. And you end up having to see the new pediatrician, whoever the newest associate in the group is. Not that that's bad. That's great, because it gets the new person busy. But part of that is because of the mass referral way that those people get patients.” (32:30—33:09)
“A lot of consultants and people with great intentions say, ‘Ask everyone for a referral, as many as you can get. Let them know you're seeing new patients.’ And I'm not saying not to do that. But what I'm saying is, then you could end up getting so busy seeing so many new people who either, a) don't want what's best for them, or b) don't want what you do or what you love to do.” (33:23—33:48)
“We’re growing [our practice] one person at a time, intentionally trying to select patients who will be quality, well-referred patients.” (34:49—35:03)
“[Find] specialists who have a similar practice philosophy, similar dental philosophy, occlusal philosophy, aesthetic philosophy, whatever it is about how the practice is, so there's some continuity of care. If your practice is one that is relationship-based, fee-for-service type of a practice and you're working with a specialist that maybe is focused on high-volume, and they're tied into a bunch of insurance plans and it’s more fix on failure versus being proactive, it’s going to be hard to do that. So, you find the specialists that are aligned with your way of thinking.” (39:35—40:26)
“I think that in most corners of the world, you're going to find that there are people who are similarly aligned with you. Find those people, partner with them, and be straight-up open with them and say, ‘Hey, I want to work with you. I'm going to send you the bulk of my referrals.’” (40:57—41:14)
“To do a higher level of sophisticated, comprehensive, interdisciplinary care, you need more than whatever you got in dental school. I'll say that outright. And that's not to put anyone down or to say you can't do it. It’s to say, at least I needed it. There was no way I could do the kind of dentistry I do today coming out of school.” (43:02—43:28)
“Every great dentist — every great whatever — comedian, architect, whatever it is, they’ve had mentors. And they have had people that they could stand on their shoulders to learn and grow and better for the benefit of themselves and their patients, or their audience, or their team.” (44:38—45:02)
“You don't want to jump in the pool without a lesson. And you don't want to jump in the pool without somebody standing on the side with one of those life rings, just in case. That's what you get at Pankey. The lifeline is right there.” (46:18—46:32)
Dr. Becker’s background. (03:34—05:56)
Why this is an important topic in dentistry. (06:55—10:52)
Importance of referrals from specialists. (11:23—14:49)
Be committed to relationships and building trust. (15:33—17:10)
Stay consistent and true to your core beliefs. (17:37—19:40)
People want high-quality dentistry. (20:29—23:11)
How to ask for referrals. (24:02—28:05)
Do a post-treatment celebration with patients. (28:17—29:46)
Patients are now more into their appearance. (30:48—31:46)
High-quality patients versus a high volume of patients. (32:29—35:03)
There are many ways to do dentistry. (36:11—38:40)
How to get high-quality referrals consistently. (39:05—42:01)
Why you need The Pankey Institute. (42:58—50:43)
Reach Out to Dr. Becker:
Dr. Becker’s website: www.atlantadentalsolutions.com
Dr. Becker’s Instagram: @doc_becks
Dr. Daren Becker Bio:
Dr. Becker earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from American International College and Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Florida College of Dentistry.
Dr. Becker began private practice in Atlanta, GA, in 1998 with an emphasis on comprehensive, restorative, implant, and aesthetic dentistry. He is the owner and full-time dentist at Atlanta Dental Solutions and is in full-time fee-for-service private practice.
Dr. Becker began his advanced studies at The Pankey Institute in 1998. He was invited to be a guest facilitator in 2006 and has been on the visiting faculty since 2009. In addition, in 2006, he began spending time facilitating dental students from Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry at the Ben Massell Clinic (treating indigent patients) as an adjunct clinical faculty member. In 2011, he was invited to be a part-time faculty member in the Graduate Prosthodontics Residency at the Center for Aesthetic and Implant Dentistry at Georgia Health Sciences University, now Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine (formerly Medical College of Georgia).
Dr. Becker has been involved in organized dentistry and has chaired and/or served on numerous state and local committees. Currently, he is a delegate to the Georgia Dental Association. He has lectured at the Academy of General Dentistry annual meeting, is a regular presenter at ITI Study Club, as well as numerous other study clubs. He is a regular contributor at Red Sky Dental Seminars.
In addition to his enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge, Dr. Becker’s strengths are in meeting and special event planning, and CE program development. Dr. Becker lives in the Dunwoody area of Atlanta, GA, with his wife, Amanda, and their daughters Alicia and Addison. He is passionate about fly-fishing and enjoys traveling, golf, and outdoor photography.