Referring Doctors Still Matter

By Roger P. Levin, DDS


When I lecture to orthodontic teams throughout the country, I often hear them express frustration about the fact that more referring doctors are doing their own orthodontic treatment. Understandably, this frustration can cause them to abandon focusing on general dentists as referrals sources. Why court the very people that you’re in competition with? However orthodontists must think of their referral marketing efforts in this way: The more things change, the more they stay the same. While it’s true that general dentists are increasing the amount of orthodontics that they provide, most orthodontic treatment is still supplied by orthodontic practices and referrals from general dentists are still very strong. So turning away from general dentists can be detrimental to maintaining a high-level of practice revenue.

Modern Strategies in Referring Doctor Marketing
It’s clear that orthodontic practices with strong doctor referrals perform better than most. However most orthodontic practices are not doing nearly enough when it comes to referring doctor marketing. They may have a few key strategies like mailing holiday cards or sending nice clinical reports, but that’s not sufficient for an effective referral marketing program. In order to launch a powerful and robust referral marketing program, you must hit the magic number 15. When orthodontic practices employ 15 strategies that are custom designed to stimulate referring doctors to increase referrals, they can expect to experience 15 to 18% growth in the first 12 months.

Begin by designing an annual referring doctor marketing calendar that includes all 15 strategies and then create touch points for each strategy. Touch points are simply opportunities to connect to referrers. For example, we have a client use the strategy of hosting an all-day educational seminar for referring doctors and staff. They were able to achieve 12 touch points out of that one strategy alone that all reminded and updated referring practices about the upcoming seminar. This created a high level of opportunity to reach referring doctors and remind them how dedicated the orthodontic practice is to their success.

As orthodontists deal with the fact that general dentists are now a seemingly permanent part of their competitive landscape, they can’t afford to exclude them from their referral marketing efforts. Orthodontic practices that focus on referring doctors with a collection of 15 marketing strategies, each with their own touch points, can stay competitive and successful.

Dr. Roger P. Levin is the CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm. Founded in 1985, Levin Group has worked with over 30,000 dental practices. Dr. Levin is one of the most sought-after speakers in dentistry and is a leading authority on dental practice success and sustainable growth. Through extensive research and cutting-edge innovation, Dr. Levin is a recognized expert on propelling practices into the top 10%. He has authored 65 books and over 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing. To contact Dr. Levin, visit or email

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