Building GDP referrals – Part 5 – is it The Peer Group, The Study Club, The Academy – or is it something else?

So far we have looked at:

  • responsible use of social media (public and private groups)
  • your web site as seen by patients
  • your web site as seen by dentists
  • your potential blog, vlog, podcast and newsletter

Finally, I want to offer some thoughts on the subject of Peer Groups, Study Clubs and Academies.

I’ll start from an unexpected place.

Back in the late 90’s, one of my first ever dental coaching clients was a single-handed implantologist – he operated a 2-chair practice, providing a home for himself and a supporting hygienist – no other dentistry.

Even back then, he was generating an impressive £300,000 of sales and called me in to improve his business systems and financial analysis.

I was fascinated to see that almost 100% of his business was GDP referral and asked “how do you do your marketing?”

His answer is one I have recalled many times over the last 20 years:

“The success of my business is dependent upon three things, they are golf, clay-pigeon shooting and fishing.”

An early lesson to me in the power of relationship marketing.

Hence the title of today’s post.

Step 1 – set up a community of referring GDPs;

Step 2 – depending on the scope of your activity, create either a simple Peer Review Group, a post-graduate Study Club or a full-blown (and commercial) training Academy;

Step 3 – provide your members with three tracks for attendance:

  • A clinical track – to promote internal/external speakers on areas of clinical innovation and expertise;
  • A business track – to promote every aspect of business good practice, inviting external speakers (like me) on finance, marketing, customer service, leadership and management;
  • A social track – have some fun. Take your GDPs go-karting, to a sporting event, to a gig, on a canal boat ride (play golf, shoot, fish) – innovate – in the case of one of my clients, a 4-day trip to Sardinia every year for top referrers (for which the GDPs pay their own travel and the practice pays for digs and dinner). I am working with a client at the moment who are combining all three tracks with outside catering to create culinary themed evenings, “curry and composites”, “pizza snd perio” (you get the idea – have some fun with that).

Let me manage your expectations on this. It takes a lot of effort to get these communities off the ground, to keep them alive and to organise the functions – LOTS of effort.

The payback, however, is that, over the long term, you will create loyalty, support and longevity for your business.

I end this mini-series where I began.

The bottle is half empty – many GDPs want to refer because they are genuinely worried about litigation.

The bottle is half full – complex dentistry is booming.

To quote The Bard:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”

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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

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