A professional referral

A referral from one dentist to another should be easy, professional and complemented by informative and eye-catching literature. Many dentists are capitalising on the extra training they have invested in, and offering services to other practitioners who cannot offer additional services over and above general dentistry.

When approaching your peers, it is imperative that the literature you send to them is of a high quality and has all of the components included that makes a referral to you easy and smooth. Some dentists think that their extra training is all they need to offer a referral service – this could be true. However, what if you send a letter produced on your computer with little or no supporting material, to a dentist that has invested time and money in producing comprehensive welcome packs for their patients. What are they going to think of your service? It is a fact that you will be judged on your marketing material, people will create an impression from what you send to them, so make sure your literature gains a favourable response.

Designed to be different

When producing a referral pack, it is the design that will differentiate you from other referral practices. Care should be taken that the design and content reflects the market you are aiming at. It is very different from a patient welcome pack, because other dentists are the end recipient you can be as clinical as you feel appropriate.

The contents of a referral pack can vary due to the different specialisms, but in general the most popular packs include all or some of the following:

• Outer folder

• Referral forms

• DL self-addressed envelopes

• Treatment insert

• Specialist insert

• Case studies/newsletter

• Outer envelopes

• Business cards

• Covering letter.

The outer folder should be designed to have impact on the outer sides and the inners should have a background to the referral clinic and an explanation of the referral procedure. Referral forms should be printed on two-part self carbonating paper and be designed for the relevant information to be completed by the referring dentist. Several of these forms can be included in each pack.

Several DL self-addressed envelopes should be included in the pack to make it easy for the dentist to send the referral forms to the clinic. Inserts should include details of the team at the referral clinic and why they are qualified to treat referred patients. Separate inserts can be included on the treatments offered which can include case studies, or be designed as a newsletter.

What next?

When the pack is complete, it should be sent out with a covering letter and business card introducing the clinic and then placed in a printed envelope.

What happens next? It is all very well producing comprehensive referral packs but the second most important stage is what you do with them. Firstly, send them to all dentists that have previously referred into the clinic. Secondly, send them to all other dentists in the practices that have previously referred. You will find that certain dentists are referring to you within a practice and others are not – you should not assume that other dentists within the practice know about your services, because this is not necessarily the case.

Thirdly, prepare a ‘hit list’ of potential clients and either send the packs or deliver them personally. If you want them delivered personally, it does not have to be done by you – you can delegate the task to other members of staff, and remember a personal visit is very memorable.

Lastly, once these packs are produced, they are something to be proud of and you will find that you want to hand them out. If you are attending exhibitions, lectures, courses or any environment where you are with other people in the profession, take them with you, circulate them and you will reap the rewards.

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