Referral Marketing in the New Economy

By Roger P. Levin, DDS

referralBefore the Great Recession, many orthodontic practices had an adequate flow of new patients. Now, with more ortho shopping going on and competition increasing from GPs and dental service organizations (DSOs), most orthodontists must take positive steps to attract new patients.

Ortho practices intent on growing despite negative market conditions can get the results they need with a combination of patient and doctor referral marketing.

Generating More Referrals from Patients and Their Parents

Some ortho patients’ families may be able to refer a number of new patients, but most have limited connections with people who may be interested in ortho treatment. Getting a meaningful number of referrals from this group is therefore a numbers game. Levin Group discovered years ago that the quantity of patient referral marketing strategies matters as much as the quality of the strategies.

By implementing a program consisting of 15 custom-selected strategies, an ortho practice will achieve “critical mass” and be able to achieve the target of motivating 40–60% of all current patients to refer at least one new patient per year. The essential message of patient marketing is that the practice welcomes referrals. This can be conveyed in many ways—a sign in the reception area, printed and digital patient correspondence, testimonials, incentive programs, and a team trained to consistently ask for referrals.

Getting More Doctor Referrals

General dentists with thriving practices (and no desire to perform ortho treatment themselves) can potentially refer a large number of patients. There are many cases of GPs referring hundreds of thousands of dollars in ortho production every year. A few such referrers can contribute enormously to the success of your practice. However, they cannot be taken for granted. As with patient referral strategies, an ortho practice should also implement 15 strategies for establishing and maintaining relationships with referring GPs. To assure the most successful referral marketing program possible, Levin Group always advises ortho clients to hire a part-time Professional Relations Coordinator, or PRC.

The PRC takes personal responsibility for most contact with referring practices, in addition to referral strategies aimed at patients and parents. Altogether, this team member will account for about 95% of all marketing activities—a wise investment that can yield dramatic results in increased production and profitability.

About the Author

Roger LevinDr. Roger Levin is a third-generation dentist and the Chairman and CEO of Levin Group, Inc., the largest dental practice management and marketing firm in the United States. As a leading authority on orthodontic practice management and marketing, he has developed the scientific systems-based consulting method that will increase ortho practice production and profitability, while lowering stress.

Dr. Levin has authored more than 65 books and over 3,200 articles. He presents 100 seminars worldwide each year.

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