Developing a referral business
I went to a periodontist last week because my wife goes to him, and she scheduled my appointment without asking me. No amount of marketing or advertising by any periodontist would have gotten me in. She wanted me in, so I went in.
This specialist relies completely on referrals from other dentists, his only “marketing” is cultivating good relationships with the referring dentists..
On the other hand, I once consulted with an orthodontist building his practice in Southern Indiana. He quipped that his ideal patient was the oldest kid in a large family with bucked teeth.
He was joking, but he was telling the truth, too.
We talked about characteristics of large families. He said, “Around here, there are two groups that have big families, Catholics and Amish.”
He went on, “The Amish don’t put braces on their kids teeth, but the Catholics do.”
Great. So where would we find Catholic families with children around the ages that need braces?
“Saint Elizabeth Seton?” He asked quizzically referring to the Catholic elementary school.
Yeah, let’s start there.
I contacted the school, and worked out a deal to supply the students with a Catholic student day planner embossed with the orthodontist’s business on the cover.
It was not an instant success. Most good things aren’t.
It took a couple of years until he became a tight member of the community despite not being Catholic, and not sending his children to that school. Over the years, he provided more and more school supplies to St. Elizabeth Seton, and he developed a very loyal practice among the families of the parish.
It’s a good reminder that building a good referral business starts with identifying ideal clients and then finding ways to provide value over and over again. If he’d have given up after the first year, he would never have developed the strong relationship.
Referrals really benefit from face time and trust. Be visible, and be valuable, and the referrals will come.