Hello everyone, and happy Friday!!!
Yesterday there was a spirited discussion on our Orthopreneurs FB page about the concept of referrals with NSD (non-specialist dentists). One of the points that was brought up was about why I referred out to a specific NSD when he may not have been a great guy. I explained that I was fooled, which happens and that I try to refer to “good” restorative doctors who try their best. That made me think; I get a ton of new patients who are looking for dentists in the area and I have a very specific referral process that I want to share.
When a dental specialist refers a new patient to a non-specialist office, I like to call that a “reverse referral” because the overwhelming majority of NSDs and specialists don’t do most of their referrals in that direction. The usual process is sending a patient from non-specialist to specialist. So, when we specialists refer a patient back to the non-specialist, not only is it somewhat rare, but it can really be a great way to build a relationship with a potential new referrer who appreciates the positive impact a relationship with you can have on their bottom line. (Set aside for a minute the fact that you may also be an amazing specialist who can help the NSD’s practice by providing exceptional care; The cornerstone of why a referral to you should happen.)
Here you have this golden moment in which you are sending a new patient to a NSD. How do you handle it? Do you simply give a card and say, good luck? Do you call the NSD and tell them about the patient?
I learned an amazing technique that has helped foster better relationships with my NSDs and I wish that I had gotten referrals like this when I was still a restorative dentist. I learned it from a great prosthodontist in my area.
When a patient asks for an NSD, I give them a name verbally, then a card, and my TC pulls up a form letter in out software (TOPS) which instantly populates the patients name, DOB and contact info as well as a quick introductory paragraph that states we are sending them as a new patient for a comprehensive exam. It takes 15 seconds and we let the patient know that we’ll be sending that NSD a letter of introduction with their DOB and contact info. They generally thank us profusely for taking the time to write a letter, which is subsequently emailed to the front desk of the NSD within about a minute.
The letter serves three purposes:
1. The patient appreciates that you took time on their behalf to make a personal introduction (who does this nowadays?) and understands that in case they forget to call, the dentist will definitely be reaching out.
2. The NSD now has a hard copy of the referral so that they can contact the patient and follow up sooner.
3. The NSD has a letter with your name and logo on it which is difficult to ignore and they know, without a doubt, that you’ve referred them a patient. They will in turn, be thinking about building a stronger relationship with someone who helped their practice. (NOTE: You refer only to decent people, so you’re not going to be sending letter to some jerk who buries it in a pile and forgets about you and your good deed.)
I’d love to hear about how YOU refer patients to NSDs and any interesting approaches you have.
All the best,
If you’re not a member of our Orthopreneurs Facebook page, there are only two requirements: You’re an orthodontist and you want to join a group of like minded peers who have come together to solve our common business problems. Click HERE to learn more.