What are the best ways I can market my specialty or referral practice?

May 08, 2008

"Specialty practices don't want to step on the referring practice's toes by marketing themselves to clients directly," says Mark Opperman, CVPM, owner of VMC Inc., a veterinary consulting firm in Evergreen, Colo. "They would rather get referrals through the general practice. And the best way to do that is by developing relationships with them."

Opperman says the best way to market a specialty practice is to schedule one-on-one time with the owner(s) of the practices making referrals or practices that could potentially make future referrals. "You can do it over lunch or whenever they have time to talk," he says. "Your objective is to get their attention and develop a bond. Be the liaison or public relations person for a minute and explain what services you offer. If they have any questions or concerns, address those and talk it through." You might also invite them to your practice so they can see the quality and excellence of your facility.

Lunch and a friendly chat is just the beginning of what you can do to solidify your relationship with the referral clinic, Opperman says. In-clinic seminars, surgical demonstrations, open house events, team building meetings, and discounts for employees of the general practice also work well in developing strong relationships. He also says it's important to show appreciation to practices who refer to you on a consistent basis. "You could send all of their employees pizza for lunch or video rental and movie theater certificates. It lets them know that working with them is something you truly appreciate."