Referral relationships drive endodontic practices, so naturally endodontists care about developing, growing and protecting those relationships. Strong referral relationships result in steady case flow and higher productivity.
Your software system’s referral analysis report shows you who is referring to you and how many cases they have referred. In most endo practices, there is a familiar pattern in the referral base. At the top of the list are your top referrers who send cases regularly every month. These are the GPs with whom you have the strongest relationship. Many top referrers typically send all their endo patients to you as their preferred specialist. The rest of the list are doctors who are less predictable, from only referring the occasional case to not quite sending enough cases that you can count on every month.
Most endodontists pay careful attention to their top referrers because top referrers drive such a high percentage of referrals coming in. A lot of endodontists naturally focus their marketing strategies on keeping these relationships engaged and happy. At the other end of the scale, most endodontists pay careful attention to new referrers … GPs who refer for the first time.
What usually gets missed is identifying those existing middle to low-end referrers where there is a small but significant change in their referral patterns. Because these GPs are irregular referrers to begin with, unless you are tracking referrals over time in a way that can be compared easily with past referral levels, you often cannot see important changes.
For example, consider a referrer who sent you only 6 cases in the past year. Perhaps they do endo themselves, or perhaps they are “sharing the love” and dividing their referrals among a number of endodontists. Either way, to you it looks like they only refer 1 case every other month. Or they might refer two cases in a two-month period, and then you don’t hear from them for a few months.
Because the referral flow is so unpredictable, at what point would you identify that something is changing? What if they referred a case every month for 3 months in a row? Would that pop up on your radar instantly? It should because if they continued with that trend, it would put them in your top referrers! Maybe they’ve decided to do less endo themselves, or they’ve soured on sending referrals to one of their other endodontists. In either case, they should be targeted by you and your marketing coordinator for some one-on-one relationship building and marketing.
At Endo Mastery, we work with our clients to implement a referral tracking system that exposes when pattern shifts are occurring so referrers can be targeted for effective marketing. Whatever system you use, you need to be able to identify these hidden marketing opportunities. A good rule of thumb is any referral pattern that has shifted 25% or more compared to past referrals.
Also remember that it goes both ways. A plus 25% trend and a minus 25% trend both require marketing and relationship attention. And for your top referrers (at least one case referred monthly), you should narrow that rule to 10%, especially for downward trends. The loss of a top referrer has a significant cost to referral flow, and an early warning system when the relationship might be wavering allows you to find out what’s going on and take corrective action before it’s too late.