The golden rules of referrals
If you get a lot of referrals—or hope to get a lot in the future—pay attention to these cardinal rules. They help maintain a strong referral relationship among equine practitioners. Doctors, if you refer to veterinarians who don't follow these rules, look elsewhere.
1. Communicate well. When a case is referred to you, the referring veterinarian wants to know what's happening with their client's horse. Call or e-mail regularly to report on test results, procedure outcomes, and treatments so the client can talk to the regular veterinarian and get his or her opinion on what's happening. Of course, sometimes universities and haul-in facilities become busy. Referring veterinarians should take the initiative in those cases and call if they don't get regular updates on their referred patients.
2. Don't poach clients. If you want to keep referrals coming, then make it known that you won't take referred cases on as regular patients. Elise Lacher, CPA, consultant with Strategic Veterinary Consulting in Seminole, Fla., works with a referral hospital in Florida that spells out its policy on its incoming data sheets. The hospital offers general veterinary services but also receives referrals for diagnostic workups. The hospital won't provide general services to referred clients for three years after the date of the service.3. Don't bad-mouth doctors. Here's a real-life example Lacher has seen. An older doctor looking toward retirement didn't want to do dental work anymore. So he helped groom a younger competitor with a haul-in facility to specialize in dental procedures in their community. He now refers his dental work to her. This younger doctor makes absolutely sure her staff doesn't make disparaging comments about the older doctor, whose medical protocols differ from those at her facility. And she doesn't steal his clients. The younger doctor charges more for her labor-intensive procedures, and the older doctor charges less for his wellness work and vaccinations. Both practices fit comfortably in the same community, and the referral relationship is friendly and beneficial.