Doctor referrals. You need them to grow your practice. In fact, referrals from GPs and pediatric dentists should account for more than half of your practice’s total referrals.

But referral relationships can be complicated. There are lots of factors that come into play–treatment philosophy, doctor personality, team members, busy-ness, competition, etc. Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to undermine a quality referral relationship. An oversight here, a mishap here, and before you know it, you’ve lost a significant source of new patient referrals.

Developing and maintaining strong relationships with referrers requires planning, resources, and effort. Here are three common mistakes to avoid:

1. Writing Off GPs Who Perform Orthodontics

More than half of general dentists are performing orthodontics (mainly aligners). Many of their patients are adults who may not have considered orthodontic treatment. These GPs will still need your help. The more complicated cases will require your orthodontic expertise. If you write them off, they’ll send their referrals to another practice. If more than half of your referral base is performing orthodontic treatment, are you going to say goodbye to all of them? Of course not.

2. Putting Referral Relationships on Cruise Control

You’ve been working with most of your referring doctors for years. They love you. They would never think of sending their patients to another orthodontist, right? Wrong. Never take your referrers for granted–they have plenty of other options on where to refer their patients. Do everything you can to maintain strong relationships with your referring doctors.

3. Ignoring GPs Who Don’t Refer

Every dentist in the area won’t refer to you, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore these doctors. Things change. Orthodontists retire. Relationships fray. You name it, it happens. It’s always good to direct a portion of your marketing activities toward non-referrers…because how else will they know who you are when an opportunity rises?


Referral relationships are fragile. They must be nurtured and maintained over the years…or they wither and die. Avoiding these three mistakes will help you keep your referrers and expand your referral base. OP

Need help with referral marketing? Learn more about the Levin Group’s marketing consulting program by clicking here.