Developing strong relationships with general dentists is obviously critical for generating orthodontic referrals. Some orthodontists just go through the motions when they have lunch with a referring doctor or potential referrer. If you find meetings unproductive, how do you think your referring doctors feel? If you harbor negative feelings about these meetings, isn’t it possible that you unconsciously transmit such thoughts to your referring doctors?

When meeting with GPs, keep in mind the following:

Arrive on time. It’s rude to be late. Treat the referring doctor the way you would want to be treated. If an emergency comes up, contact the referring doctor as soon as possible to reschedule.

Come prepared. If you’re meeting a new doctor, know his or her name and how to pronounce it. Find out as much as you can about this individual. If the doctor has a Web site, this is often a good place to start.

Make reservations. If you are going out to eat, ask the doctor where he or she would like to dine. Even if it’s only lunch, call ahead and make reservations to ensure your appointment gets off to a smooth beginning.

Avoid unflattering remarks about other orthodontists. Negative comments have a way of getting around. Build value for your skills and treatment philosophy rather than tearing down a fellow orthodontist.

Don’t talk about yourself exclusively. You are there to talk and listen. A one-sided conversation is usually going to alienate a potential referring doctor. You want to engage your referring doctors in a dialogue about common interests, treatment philosophies, etc.

Don’t make inappropriate remarks. Acting too informal can be a mistake. Be a professional at all times.

In the new economy, orthodontic practices cannot afford to jeopardize referral relationships. These action steps will help build stronger relationships with referring doctors and aid practice growth.

Roger P. Levin, DDS