Building an effective and efficient referral network is all about just that: building.
Building takes time and thought, and too often people go at it with a transactional approach, thinking quantity over quality, and not putting any strategy behind it.
Humans are designed to interact and relate with one another, especially when it comes to business. Referrals can be the lifeline of many businesses, especially dental practices, with referred patients often morphing into high-quality, long-lasting relationships.
In order to keep your dental practice growing and evolving, your referral network should mirror that continued growth and evolution. Keep these tips in mind when building your referral network and see new patient numbers rise.
Listen, listen, and listen some more.
When meeting a potential referrer, perhaps the property manager of a new apartment complex next door, the most important thing you can do is listen. Ask them questions about how they got into their career, what their passions are, what they like to do in their free time, etc. Follow the 80/20 rule: let them talk about themselves and their business 80 percent of the time, and you reciprocate and keep the conversation going the other 20 percent. That way, they’ll undoubtedly walk away from the conversation feeling valued, heard, and appreciated.
After having a conversation with a potential referrer, go back to your CMS software and take notes on their contact profile. Jot down anything that stuck out to you, especially their interests, passions, etc. That way, you are engraining what you learned in your memory, and allowing room for them to remain top-of-mind for you. For example, perhaps the potential referrer told you he has a 10-year-old son. Might his son be in need of orthodontic treatment? What about his son’s friends? Or his son’s soccer team? Staying connected to that one referrer you talk to can open even more doors.
Reach out, not about business.
Any time you come across a news article, blog post, video, meme, or anything else that reminds you of that potential referrer and would resonate with them, reach out with a simple, “I came across this and thought of you, I hope you’re doing well!” The 80/20 rule applies here too; 80 percent of the time reach out with genuine, thoughtful and meaningful points of conversation, and then the other 20 percent of the time warmly mention how your practice is always accepting referrals, and how greatly appreciated theirs would be. Additionally, this keeps you top-of-mind so that when a referral opportunity comes along, it’s a no-brainer who they think of.
If you are constantly building relationships and having meaningful interactions, new patient referrals will flood the office.