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14 March 2023

The three T’s for dominating dental referrals

Travis Rodgers

How often can you say you DOMINATED in something? Domination is the exercise of mastery and supremacy. Many can say they have dominated a few times, but to dominate over a long period takes much more. It takes a shift in mindset, and it takes discipline, process, training and confidence.

Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Wayne Gretzky and Usain Bolt dominated during their careers because they all had excellent training, remarkable tenacity, and tracked everything.

To dominate dental referrals for general dentists and dental specialists, the same applies. You must track key referral metrics, get trained on how to manage better and increase referrals, and have the tenacity to stick to a process. These are the three T’s.

In my two decades in the dental industry, I have attended many retirement parties, but one I attended last month stood out above them all. This dentist was a long-time client who had used my systems and processes for referral management, and he dominated. When he retired at 57, he had more than enough money to live well for the rest of his life.

At his retirement party, the room was packed with hundreds of former patients to celebrate the dentist they knew and loved. His patients saw him as an extension of their family and their community. His beautiful wife and kids stood next to him on stage with big smiles of pride beaming on their faces.

It was a touching ceremony, and after the festivities wound down, I pulled him aside and asked him a straightforward question, “What was the secret to your success?” 

He smiled at me, showing that he knew I already knew the answer and said, “I grew my practice almost 100% by referrals.” I could see him start to get choked up as he looked me in the eyes and shook my hand with pride. He had done it.

This story is not unique. After building referral solutions in the dental industry for almost 20 years, our data at OneClick Referral shows that 88% of dentists identify referrals from current patients as their #1 most successful marketing method. Nothing is better than having your patients leave your office saying, “I Luv My Dentist.”

Most dental specialists will tell you they “live and die” by referrals. Sometimes it only takes a few offices to make the difference between success and failure as a dental specialist.

Dr. Snehal Patel of Lorton Oral Surgery is an example of that. He doubled his revenue by implementing our system with only one referring office. This improved his referral no-show rate by 32%, which equated to 1,432 referrals over three years. That correlated to approximately $4 million in revenue.

Dental practices that DOMINATE follow the “Three T Method” for referral domination.

  1. Tracking
  2. Training
  3. Tenacity


Let’s start with some stats:

  • People are 400% more likely to buy from you when referred.
  • 90% of people trust recommendations from people they know.
  • Referred patients are 16% more profitable than non-referred patients.
  • 84% of GP-to-specialist patients come through referrals.
  • 34% of the time, when a patient is referred to a dental specialist by paper, they never go.
  • Less than 2% of dental practices use a tool to manage and track their referrals.

The last stat should be the most alarming but more than anything, it should be viewed as the most incredible opportunity to dominate in your market area. 

Every practice should be a “referral machine.” The only way a machine works smoothly is by using a tool and consistently following a process.  

Every practice should be tracking metrics for referrals:

  1. Rank all referrals from A to D.
  2. Average response time from your team to respond to referrals.
  3. Number of referrals per colleague and patient.
  4. Revenue by referral source.
  5. Marketing dollars spent on referral sources.


Dentists and teams typically have no formal training in sales and feel reluctant to ask for referrals or have no formal process or tool to manage them. Dental practices need to shift their mindset from selling to serving, and when you are serving, it is easy to ask if you can serve more. The truth is that nothing beats the trust you gain when someone recommends you to their friends, family, colleagues and coworkers.

We have worked with hundreds of dental practices over the past two decades, training them to manage referrals better. Every practice should have a CRP (Certified Referral Professional) on staff to manage internal and external referrals. To learn more about available training, visit the Referral Academy.


Most practices will say they have “tried” to implement a referral program, but only a few stick to a process or tool long enough to reap the benefits. A referral program that dominates does not happen overnight, but it always gets you the best patients and results.

Research has confirmed that referred patients are more profitable and more enjoyable to work with than those that come from any other form of marketing. Unfortunately, while 75% of people choose their dentist based on the recommendation of a friend, very few dentists have mastered the art and science of generating referrals. Still, more importantly, most don’t stick with a plan long enough to reap the benefits.

According to the book “Raving Referrals for Dentists” by Brandon Barnum and Julieanne O’Connor, there are “7 Laws of Raving Referrals.”

  1. Every Referral Starts with Trust
  2. The More You Give, The More You Receive
  3. Relationships Trigger Transactions
  4. Stellar Service Creates Stellar Success
  5. Delighted Patients Refer Delightful Patients
  6. The Fortune is in the Follow-Up
  7. Everyone Wins, or No One Wins

Great smiles change lives. Great smiles create love. Great dental practices grow by referrals. It is one thing to be good at referrals, but it is much different to dominate referrals.

Referred patients are always a joy to see when they come into your office. These are the patients that accept your treatment plans without question. These are the patients who share stories of the impact you have had on their lives. While you may never see them outside your office, they consider you a friend and recommend you whenever possible.

General dentists and dental specialists alike can flourish in any economy and with minimal marketing efforts by focusing on expanding and nurturing patient and colleague referrals. Follow my proven process and put your referrals from patients and colleagues on autopilot. It is easy when you follow a proven plan.

About Travis Rodgers

Travis Rodgers was the first to build what is now called OneClick Referral in the dental industry in 2003. He was also the first to build an integrated and automated word-of-mouth referral system. Rodgers is the founder of the Referral Academy, which trains dental teams on how to manage referrals better. He is widely known as “The Referral Guy'' in the dental industry.

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