Referral marketing is about relationships. Orthodontists who have strong relationships with many GPs usually receive more referrals and, consequently, have the most successful practices.

The best orthodontist-GP relationships are built on multiple areas of interest, including professional, educational, social, and personal.

The professional category is where the majority of the relationships with referring doctors begin—and stay, unfortunately. The best referral relationships exist on multiple levels. While you cannot be best friends with every referring dentist, your relationships can transcend the merely professional.

If you could take a certain set of referral sources and implement strategies that span a range of categories, such as educational presentations, sporting events, playing golf, wine tasting, etc, you can take your professional relationship to another level. The more ways in which you can connect with referral sources, the more powerful your marketing program will be.

I believe that if more than 50% of the relationships are only at the professional level, then the orthodontic practice will hit a premature plateau and have difficulty expanding beyond that.

That is why it is important to understand that the best clinical orthodontists will not necessarily build the most successful orthodontic practices. While excellence in clinical orthodontics is essential, it is important to know the truth, and the truth is that strong relationships with referring doctors drive your practice’s success.

It can be challenging to build stronger relationships with GPs, but the effort can be well worth it in terms of better communications, more referrals, and greater practice success.

Roger P. Levin, DDS