Periospectives — July-September 2013
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7 Keys To Maximize Referral Relationships

Are you leaving money and referrals on the table? Below is a quick review
of seven keys to ensure you get the most out of your referral relationships.

1 Lead a study club.Study clubs create a powerful environment for new referrals. As the leader and educator in a study club, you establish credibility,authority, and a social connection with attendees.

3 Participate in a study club. While leading a study club creates great leverage
for referrals, participating in a study club also presents significant opportunities for engagement and relationship development. If you absolutely cannot lead a study club, at least participate in one with potential referral sources.

3 Engage counter-intuitive continuing education. Continuing education today by specialists is becoming more and more counter-intuitive. Counter-intuitive continuing education works like this:

An orthodontist has an ortho study club, an endodontist has an endo study club, and a periodontist has an implant study club. By this point you might be screaming, “You don’t understand, I want to do all the implants!” But here’s the reality. Today, more GPs do ortho than orthodontists. More GPs do endo than endodontists. GPs do more implants than periodontists and oral surgeons combined.

A counter-intuitive continuing education study club requires patience and integrity, but over time you become established as the expert in your field. Eventually, GPs begin to say, “Why don’t I just cherry-pick the easy third of these procedures and refer the other two-thirds to you?”

I have personally worked with some very large specialist practices that grew because of a counter-intuitive educational strategy.

4 Create a “quick-read” newsletter. Instead of creating a traditional long-form newsletter, choose a shorter teaching newsletter. The idea is to help busy
referral sources cut through the content maze by quickly summarizing important articles. You can also provide the articles, but the key is to provide quick, usable information for your referral sources. Your referral sources will love the idea that you have already read the article and you can tell them in one to two sentences what it means for them and their practice!

5 Speak more and less. Speak more often, but take up less time. The days of three-hour and six-hour lectures have been replaced by power-packed 45 minute to one-hour rubber-meets-the-road talks. Provide your referral sources with education they can trust in a time-sensitive fashion and they will help you grow your practice.

6 Provide more group social events. After investing nearly three decades in dental practice management, I’ve noticed that fewer and fewer doctors make time for breakfast or lunch with their specialists. Why? They know the game and they are tired of it:

You meet for lunch, discuss their practice and your practice, leave a few articles behind that they will probably never read, you pick up the check, and they are expected to refer to you next week.

A better approach today is to plan more group social events. Your events do not have to be elaborate or expensive. Think through the event and make it fun. A few more group social events can pay big dividends for your practice.

7 Build a legacy practice. To build a legacy practice you will need to employ “cathedral thinking.”

Over the years as I’ve toured some of the great cathedrals of Europe with my wife Kay, I noticed a deliberate trend next to each cathedral. Next to each cathedral was a grove of oak trees that had been planted the same year work began on the cathedral. The plan was to plant a series of acorns in a field next to the cathedral with the knowledge that the acorns would grow into oak trees. After 100 years of building the cathedral, the oak trees would be ready to serve as the cross beams, the rafters and the trusses. Acorns became cathedrals. It was long-term thinking at its best.

I find that in the drive-through food, drive-through dry cleaning, drive-through Starbucks, and drive-through banking world in which we live, it’s hard
to remember that some of the most beautiful masterpieces created on this earth took a long time to grow and build. Building a legacy practice is the most effective referral strategy you will ever implement.

Go for it! Make this your best year ever. You deserve it.

Ken Runkle is the founder and president of Paragon Management, Inc. and has been helping dental practices reach peak profitability for more than 27 years. Paragon Management serves about 400 practices in 26 states across the nation and
they work exclusively with dentists. Learn more about Paragon at theparagonprogram.com or call 800/448-2523.

Get your story featured

Cool holiday gifts? Dental trivia nights? Joint practice employee outings? How do you build and maintain relationships with your referring colleagues?
Tell us and have your story featured in an issue of Periospectives. For more information or topic ideas, email allison@perio.org.
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