By Roger P. Levin, DDS

Your marketing coordinator goes for an office visit to one of your referrers and sees something that stops her in her tracks. A large poster with a smiling mouth full of braces that says:

Please Ask Us About Our Orthodontic Services!

When she tells you about it, you shake your head and think: Here we go again. Another referrer horning in on my business. And as you mentally remove them from your list of top referrers you wonder what to do. Well I say keep them on your list and continue to send your marketing coordinator to their office. Yes, more general dentists are performing orthodontic treatment. However, if you look at the real data from the Levin Group Data Center, we’re finding that referring doctors are still a critical target component for referrals to orthodontic practices. In fact, we routinely see middle to high-end practices that have up to 50% or more of their referrals coming from general dentists. This actually makes sense when the data demonstrates that one referring office can send between $60,000 and $200,000 a year of referral revenue to a single orthodontic practice. This far outweighs the number of referrals you’ll receive from any patient in your practice.

Increasing Referrals Through Intelligent Referral Marketing

There are many ways to increase referrals from referring doctors, and unless an orthodontist has completely ignored the market for many years, this increase can happen in a relatively short period of time.

Strategy 1: Build Relationships. If the orthodontist isn’t willing to spend time communicating with referring doctors in multiple ways, then the referral marketing program is most likely dead on arrival. There are many ways that orthodontists can develop relationships with referring doctors. Lunches, patient case communication, email, texts, and even good old-fashioned letter writing are just a few. As each relationship is built and enhanced on a continual basis, referring offices will begin to migrate to referring exclusively to that orthodontic practice. We see orthodontic practices increase referrals in as little as 6 months from current and new referral sources using these strong relationship building strategies.

Strategy 2: Select key activities that increase the quantity of contact. Quantity in dentistry refers to the number of touch points or times that each orthodontic practice and strategy connects with referring doctors and referring practices. For example, delivering a nice gift or food basket is a one-time touch point. Conversely, putting on a certain seminar that is marketed over a 6-month period can have 12 touch points. Having a mix of both strategies is important.

Learn more: Levin’s Five Essential Tips for Referral Marketing Success

Strategy 3: Hire a marketing coordinator. The truth is that most orthodontists won’t carry out the marketing program on their own.  Over time, they will simply lose motivation. We advise clients to hire a well-trained marketing coordinator that works a minimum number of 16 to 20 hours per week. Anything less than this takes away from the ability of the practice to properly identify, implement, and modify new strategies and track results. It simply makes no sense for the orthodontist to perform 95% of all marketing activity when a well-trained marketing coordinator can handle the bulk of the marketing program. 

Strategy 4: Be consistent. I have stated in many orthodontic seminars, including the recent 2019 American Association of Orthodontists meeting, that inconsistency may be the number one reason for referral marketing failure. You must always keep strategizing, planning, and pushing forward. In our observation of working with over 3,600 orthodontic practices, we find that the ability to grow, be successful, and maintain that success requires multiple avenues of referrals and referral marketing. 

Referring doctors are still one of the most powerful referral sources. I recommend using the strategies above to help build and maintain a successful referral marketing program for years to come. OP

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Levin, or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email [email protected].


New Levin Group Program

We are pleased to announce the launch of the New Levin Group Orthodontic Marketing Program. This breakthrough program includes FIVE FOCUS AREAS—Patients, Parents, Social Media, Referring Doctors, and the Community. 

Levin Group has been the leading orthodontic management and marketing consulting firm since 1985. We have worked with thousands of orthodontic practices. 

If you would like to have a 30-minute discussion about your unique practice situation and how the New Levin Group Orthodontic Marketing Program can benefit you, please visit or contact Angela Pickett at [email protected]