In the world of dental marketing, word-of-mouth is still the most powerful advertising tool we have. With referral marketing targeted at peers, you are essentially making use of word-of-mouth adverting by using a trusted professional to promote you.

When a trusted professional refers your services to a patient, it builds trust and respect in the mind of the patient before they even see you. This then has a major impact on treatment uptake and the time needed to cultivate the dentist-patient relationship.

Do you know the revenue that referrals generate in your practice?

If you are a referral practice the answer is probably yes, but if you are a GDP you might not know the hidden value. I recently spoke with Gary Moore, CDT and owner of Smiles & More dentures clinic, and he refers out approximately £500,000 worth of private treatment per year to local dentists!

We get asked by a number of clients how we can help build their referral networks.

Our Top Tips for Increasing Peer Referrals

  1. Build a local culture of collaboration based on personal relationships
  2. Invite local dentists to an evening lecture or provide educational lunch and learns to educate and build relationships
  3. Contact a local dental school to create interprofessional education opportunities with dental students as a means of building relationships with future referral partners
  4. Send out referral packs/branded stationary to demonstrate you are a credible and professional practice

Are you nurturing good referral relationships?

Referral networks are largely a one-way process; a dentist will refer a patient to a trusted colleague for complex treatment which lies outside of their skill set. This type of relationship is intended to direct patients to external resources to help better serve their needs. Other, more evenly balanced referral relationships, such as the above example of a CDT-GDP relationship can benefit both parties by each directing different types of work to one another. Could you benefit from building a relationship such as this?

Building a network – become trusted

I am fortunate enough to have a steady (and endless) flow of referrals, as I work as a Tier 2 dentist in Oral Surgery. To build the same kind of referral network for private treatment takes a careful strategy depending on whether it is routine private dentistry or more specialist care that you provide, along with the competition of your local area.

As a GDP I am very particular about who I refer patients to. We have a duty to ensure the patient is provided with the required level of professional care from the person we refer to. The best way I have found for sourcing trusted colleagues to refer to, has been through lectures/courses and professional networking. There is huge value in attending a course, lecture or lunch and learning to ascertain the level of skill of a colleague as a potential dentist to refer to.

Don’t get complacent

To survive and thrive in today’s economy, both general and specialist practices need to implement a structured marketing program that generates more referrals from current referral sources and expands the number of referrers.

If you would like help building your referral network or making your dental marketing campaigns as effective as possible contact jennifer@feym.com

About the Author

Dr Jennifer Noone – Co-founder and Creative Director of Dental and Medical Content

Jennifer is the Creative Director for Content Creation – Dental and Medical clients. As a practicing private Dentist, Jennifer has written scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals such as Dental Update, Orthodontic Update and the BDJ. As well as being an award winning dentist, Jennifer is a digital marketing expert having trained and certified in social media marketing, graphic design and video production/editing. Jennifer’s passion is to help Dental and Medical practices utilise online content and digital marketing channels to grow their patient database along with the marketing of new services and products.

Contact Jennifer directly to schedule a call –  jennifer@feym.com or call 0161 533 0388

We would like to thank Gary Moore from Smiles & More for taking part in this article. Smiles & More are one of the leaders in the provision of denture treatments in the North West with practices in Warrington, Widnes and Chester. If you would like to find out more about Smiles & More please visit www.smilesandmore.co.uk or connect with Gary via LinkedIn.

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