Build a Solid Referral Network for Your Dental Practice
Unlike general dentists, dental specialists cannot rely on annual checkups for revenue. While the relationships some specialists—such as orthodontists or pediatric dentists—can build with patients can be longer, more personal and more rewarding than are those between patients and their general dentist, most patients of a dental specialty practice show up only in times of need. While some patients remain with a dental specialist for a long period of time, most complete their course of treatment and move on.
Regardless of the circumstances, dental specialists cannot afford to leave any avenue for finding potential patients to go unexplored. The most effective route to finding patients is through a strong referral network, and the best way to build that network is with a targeted newsletter campaign.
The first part of building a successful referral-generating newsletter strategy is to identify the best possible sources. General dentists are the most natural targets for referrals. But there are many others worth making:
- Pediatricians—often times more so than general dentists—are a natural referral source for pediatric dentists.
- Pediatric dentists, in turn, can be a significant source of new patients for orthodontic practices.
- Often general physicians, internists and even physician specialists refer patients to dental specialists, especially oral surgeons and periodontists.
- Among physician specialists, cardiologists can be a referral source for periodontists, as studies continue to link cardiovascular disease with periodontal disease.
- Oncologists, too, can be a referral source for oral surgeons, especially as bisphosphonate use has been linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw.
- Finally, talk to patients about those who referred them to you. Those sources and others in their profession should be looked upon as potential targets for your newsletters.
The second part of building a profitable network is to understand your area of service. It is a waste of time and effort to market to people outside your area of influence. If you work in a heavily populated region and you have many competitors nearby, concentrate your efforts on your local market, and don’t waste time marketing to people dozens of miles away. They are unlikely to make the long trip just to see you, no matter how much better you might be than their nearest alternative. On the other hand, if you are in a loosely populated area, you need to expand your reach as widely as possible.
WPI Communications offers a service called EZ Lists that will allow you to build a map of potential referral sources according to your geographical preferences and most desired referral sources. People trust their physicians and dentists more than they trust the yellow pages or insurance-generated lists of in-network specialists. Build trust with trusted professionals, and their patients will put that trust in you.
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