Endo Mastery

THE DANGER OF GP ASSOCIATES

When one of your referrers brings an associate onboard, it’s a warning that your referral relationship is about to change. Whether it changes for better or worse is up to you and the steps you take to position yourself.

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DR. ACE GOERIG

OWNER & CO-FOUNDER

News that one of your referrers is adding an associate to their practice should not escape the attention of you and your marketing coordinator. Your referral relationship could potentially grow or there is the danger that it could all be at risk. One question you should try to answer is: What is the motivation of your referring doctor?

  • If they are over the age of 55, the associate may be the first step in a practice transition strategy where your referrer is going to sell the practice and retire. Within a few years, your referrer may be gone and you’ll lose those referrals unless you successfully build a referral relationship with the new doctor.
  • If your referrer is not in their retirement window, then there is the possibility they are planning to reduce their days in the practice, with the associate making up the difference. So, not all referrals will be at risk, but the referrals for a certain percentage of existing patient flow could be vulnerable.
  • A third possibility is that your referrer is busy and adding an associate to allow their practice to continue growing. In this case, there is the opportunity to increase referrals if you establish a referral relationship with the associate.

In all scenarios though, recognize that the addition of an associate will put pressure on your referrer to fill the associate’s schedule right away. It is common that anything referred out (such as endo procedures) are appointed with the associate instead when possible. So you may see a dip in referred cases in the early stages of the associate’s presence in the referring practice, regardless of how strong your referral relationship is.

Forging a New Relationship

It’s vital that you step in early to establish a professional relationship with the new associate. If the referrer is one of the top referrers where you have a longstanding relationship, it should be a fairly easy “ask” to set up a lunch or dinner with both doctors. The fact that you are the preferred endodontist for the owner GP will be highly influential on the associate.

 

However, if you have a weaker, less exclusive referral relationship where the owner GP may not express a preference, then the associate may be free to establish their own referral relationships. That could include any other endodontist the practice also refers to, or any other endodontist in your community. Timeliness and a certain level of earnestness is needed to position yourself with the associate sooner, rather than later (which will be too late once they feel committed to another endodontist).

 

In the meantime, your marketing coordinator should be targeting the referring office for attention with pop-by visits and marketing activities. Don’t count out the referring office’s team to sing your praises. Create some buzz around you with the referring team to demonstrate to the associate how much goodwill already exists between the practices.