Where Did Your Referrals Go?
Here’s the Situation:
Specialty practices are under pressure from new forms of competition. Let’s talk about what’s really happening in the specialty practice universe…
1. Corporate dentistry is expanding.
As that happens, DSO’s and Large Group Practices will include more and more specialty services in their treatment offerings. Some will be “specialty only” corporate groups – all geared to keep everything in-house.
Corporate dentistry is certain to capture some segment of the population, but many patients will still seek out private practices that provide excellent care, have great reputations and deliver Five Star Customer Service.
Will your private practice be the one they pick?
2. General dentists have always been the core referral customer of specialty practices but are now providing more specialty services.
Even when a GP goes that route, the truth is that they can only provide a small portion of the specialty services they see, and they STILL refer the majority. It is not unusual in the business world for your main customer to also be a competitor.
How do you navigate this situation to maintain a steady stream of referrals?
It is much easier than you think, but ignoring it (or even worse being annoyed by it) is not a solution.
3. Dental insurance companies are continually lowering reimbursements and playing other games to decrease how much they have to pay specialty practices.
This is also happening to GP’s – and at an increasing speed.
Are you prepared to understand that an increased volume of referrals will be the only way to offset lower or changing reimbursements if you want to maintain (or even increase) practice production?
4. And let’s not forget about the rising debt levels of graduating specialists, an oversupply of specialists, delayed retirement for many specialists, multi-office expansion strategies, corporate groups that undercut the current market fees and many other factors – the list goes on and on…
It took 18 months of extensive research and a year of testing to put together the New Levin Group Specialty Practice Referral Marketing Program.
This is a totally new version of Referral Marketing and the fifth time that we have massively overhauled our referral marketing program and processes to meet the challenges facing specialists today.
This is Levin Group’s best referral program yet!
What makes this new program better than anything we’ve ever done before is that it is based on what’s happening today. Specialists need to respond to challenges now, before referrals drop, to keep the practice strong in the future.
Think about how easy it is to destroy a referral relationship. One wrong phone conversation between a front desk person in the specialty practice and a front desk person in the GP practice can kill referrals. Everyone in the specialty practice needs to understand how important 5-Star Customer Service is at all times. Do you really have 5-Star Customer Service? After you work through our training program on 5-Star Customer Service you will. And your team will understand why it is so critical. You don’t want to be your own worst enemy.
Here are some examples:
Paul in New Jersey had one patient who had a bad service experience. She trashed them online and wrote a four-page letter to her GP encouraging the GP not to refer to Paul any longer. Is she nuts? Maybe. But the referring doctor stopped referring. It was not fair, but it happened.
Heather in Arizona had one clinical case that did not go well. The patient was upset; the GP was upset and asked her to redo the case at no charge. She did. And then the GP stopped referring any more patients.
Frank in Missouri didn’t lose referring doctors overnight. He lost them gradually as he stopped paying attention to his marketing program and got tired of networking. Three years later his referrals were down 31%. Two other young specialists have moved into the area and were marketing and networking at a high-level. It had its (negative) effect.
The stories go on and on. We hear them every day from new specialty clients who are now looking to turn around their practice referral situation.
So why are you losing referrals?
Research now indicates that the number one reason for a referral plateau or decline is competition, but inconsistency is a strong number two. While competition is a clear reason for the new referral challenges – inconsistency in referral marketing is the major reason that your referrals are not increasing. It is clear that the practices that consistently market and create innovative new strategies that add value to referring doctors and build relationships continue to increase referrals.
In the past maintaining referrals was easy and automatic. Today it does require specific referral marketing actions and focus on strong relationship building. The relationships alone are not enough and they cannot be built and then put on auto pilot. Smart specialty practices have smart marketing programs that focus on referring doctors and their practices using multiple levels of strategies and, of course, 5-Star Customer Service to ensure great patient experiences. Remember, every patient goes back to their GP and comments on their experience in the specially practice.