Four Fundamentals for Gaining and Retaining Professional Referrals
We hear it all too frequently. A dentist was getting strong and recurring referrals from colleagues. Then the referrals slowed, sometimes quite dramatically, and that practice was in trouble—and still is. Specialists recognize that many dentists are doing more and more procedures themselves, thus referring fewer and fewer patients.
Don’t take your professional referrals for granted until they evaporate. Boning up on some referral marketing knowledge and applying it can go a long way toward building your patient base.
Chances are you are familiar with the tips below. It’s essential to remember the basics. Are you practicing these four fundamentals? If not, it will adversely impact your referrals—and your bottom line.
- It’s not just the dentist who makes the referrals. Even if you have a personal relationship with a referring professional, it may not always translate to the front-desk team. It’s the front desk where most referrals are actually made. What are you doing to ensure that your name stays in front of those people actually making the referrals?
- Never take your referral sources for granted. Are you actively thanking your referring providers? If you aren’t letting them know you appreciate their patient referrals, they may very well send them elsewhere. One of the easiest, most consistent, least costly and most effective ways to show your appreciation is to send referring dentists a professional dental newsletter with quality information and updates pertaining to your specialty. Some examples are Oral Surgery Update, Orthodontics Alert and Periodontics Report.
- Ask for referrals. This tip sounds simple, but it’s not something that many dental specialists do effectively. Make sure your colleagues know that you appreciate their referrals and will take excellent care of their patients. Ask them to send you their patients who need specialty treatment.
- If you aren’t getting as many referrals, ask why not. For those practices that used to send you referrals and those referrals have slowed or stopped, you need to find out why. It may be uncomfortable, but you owe it to your practice and the patients you could be treating to ask. Maybe there was a misunderstanding or a breakdown in communication between your offices. Perhaps a patient complained, and you never had a chance to address the concern. Maybe a member of your staff didn’t perform as well as he or she could have. Whatever it is, you need to be aware of it to correct it.
If there is a problem, be sure to provide a solution. Let the referring provider’s office know what you’ll do to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. This is all part of rebuilding trust.
If you want to keep the patients coming, keep up with these referral-building fundamentals. And if referrals have fallen off, follow these tips to get back on track.
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