It seems like every surgical practice includes visits to referring offices as part of their overall marketing plan. There is usually no strategy for the visits, and the result is random visits to referring offices around holidays with treats and goodies. The referring office staff loves this, and it is a good way to establish a rapport between the two teams, but it is not as productive as it could be, and the surgical practice ends up constantly looking for “new marketing ideas” to keep these visits fresh and unique.
However, if there is a strategy for the office visits, with specific reasons to visit certain referrals throughout the year, the visits can be a productive component of the marketing plan. We recommend that you group the referrals into categories and have a strategy for each category, or type of visit.
The following are examples of specific strategies for different categories of referrals:
New Referring Dentists
The purpose of the visit is to acknowledge the new referral to the surgical practice, thank them for the referral, and ideally schedule a lunch (or other) meeting for your surgeon and the dentist.
You should have “new referral packet” ready for these visits that could include:
Brochures about The Dental Implant Guide patient website
Information about the practice, including support services offered to referrals, such as lunch and learn meetings, drivers and components, etc.
Invitation to an upcoming course sponsored by the surgical practice
You might also want to include goodies for the office just to add something fun.
Third Molar Referrals Have Decreased
Promoting Exparel is a great strategy for dentists whose referrals for third molars have decreased. We would suggest creating a flyer or brochure about the benefits of Exparel for third molar patients and calling to schedule a 5 to 7 minute meeting with the dentist to discuss Exparel and how much the parents appreciate this option for their high school and college age kids.
One of your objectives would be to see if you can determine why the referrals have decreased, in order to correct the problem. But you don’t want to push for that information if it is uncomfortable. Exparel opens the door and gives you something new to discuss and bring the conversation around to thirds referrals.
Promoting Education Programs
Courses sponsored by the surgical practice are always a good opportunity to visit referring offices and personally deliver course invitations for dentists that your surgeon is hoping will participate. It’s always a good idea to call in advance, letting the office know that your surgeon has asked you to drop off some information about an upcoming program.
This demonstrates respect for their time and schedule and gives you a better chance of spending few minutes talking with the person at the front desk about the course. It should also provide an opening to ask a few questions about the office, implants, the dentist’s preferences for types of courses, etc.
One of the most valuable pieces of information you can obtain is which email address the dentist prefers for receiving course information and which one the Office Manager prefers. Nothing is more frustrating than attempting to use email for all course invites and discovering that only 30% of the dentists receive or open those emails because they are sent to “info@” or “office@” addresses.
Another overlooked opportunity is following up after education programs. If there is anything you can personally deliver to offices that participate in programs, it provides a chance for you to get feedback about the program, beyond the evaluation form. We have included a sample Save the Date and follow up flyer for the same education program below:
Introducing the Implant Coordinator
All of the top implant referrals should receive a personal visit from the Implant Coordinator at some point. These dentists and their staff will be in communication with the Implant Coordinator on a regular basis and it is important to actually meet the person they’ll be speaking to about implant cases.
If the Implant Coordinator position is new to the surgical practice, it is ideal to make the rounds early in the relationship. If you have been in the Implant Coordinator position for some time and have not personally met these referrals, you might want to consider scheduling a visit to introduce yourself.
Alternatively, if you have a good relationship with these dentists, but haven’t met some of them, introducing something new that your practice is doing is a good opportunity for you to spend time interacting with the entire team. This could be a lunch and learn to introduce The Dental Implant Guide for patient education, or a lunch and learn on something like GreenSky financing for full-arch cases that they will be doing with your practice. If your practice is on The Dental Implant website and you would like a copy of the lunch and learn below, please let us know.
There are numerous other groups of referring offices that you can plan to visit throughout the year – just make sure there is a strategy. Determine which dentists you want to visit each quarter. Map it out on the calendar and track how many offices you actually visit. Record the results of the visits, particularly any increases in case referrals, for a discussion with your manager and surgeon at quarterly marketing meetings.
We will explore other important aspects of referring office visits in parts 2 and 3, including questions to ask the offices, specific approaches to take for scheduling the visits, and prospecting for new referrals.