Veterinary specialists rely on their network of referring veterinarians to build a thriving practice, because referred patients are the backbone of the specialist’s caseload, and establishing relationships with referral partners is key to their success. If you’re new to your area, starting your specialty career, or competing with other practices, you are no doubt looking for ways to build trust with local referring veterinarians, increase case referrals, and attract new clients. VESPECON connects general practice veterinarians with local specialists, and joining our specialist network is a great way to instantly increase your visibility and boost referrals. In addition, consider the following strategies to improve your professional relationships and increase your community reach.
#1: Connect with other specialists
Building strong relationships with fellow area specialists—including your competitors—will help you gain trust with referring veterinarians and clients. Get to know the other specialists’ clinical strengths and weaknesses, and the types of care they offer, so you’ll know exactly where to send a patient who presents with a problem you aren’t equipped to handle. Be honest about what you can offer, and do not hesitate to refer to the appropriate specialist to show referral partners and clients that you truly care for their pet’s wellbeing.
#2: Focus on communication
Communication is key to every relationship, and can help you make an impression on referring veterinarians. Here are some tips for ensuring good two-way communication:
- Set clear expectations — Ensure clients and veterinarians know what to expect when they send you a case (i.e., costs, potential recommendations, expected time commitments). Establish client and veterinarian preferences for who will follow up after the initial consultation.
- Send timely reports — Referring veterinarians need quick updates about their patients to provide the best continued care and answer client questions.
- Make yourself available — Veterinarians are busy people, and can be impossible to reach by calling the office phone. Consider offering referring veterinarians your cell phone number to send and receive messages or photos, and to be more available to veterinarians managing critical cases.
- Use technology — Email newsletters and social media are great ways to spread the word about your services.
#3: Get involved with the community
Make your presence known and advertise your services by getting involved in your local community. Some ideas include:
- Attend rescue and charity events — Sponsor or set up a booth at a local rescue or pet-related fundraising event.
- Consider discounts — Offer discounts for service dogs and rescues to encourage organizations to partner with you long-term.
- Offer continuing education — Educate your local referring veterinarians on specialty topics and stay afterward to get to know them—never underestimate the power of face-to-face meetings.
- Attend conferences — Network, network, network.
#4: Implement an open-door policy
Invite referring veterinarians to see your facility, shadow you for a few days, or to learn specific techniques or procedures. When they see things for themselves, they’re more likely to confidently send patients your way and will be able to help clients understand what to expect. You may also consider face-to-face meetings with referring veterinarians in their own practices, so they can get to know you and how you can care for their patients.
#5: Partner with VESPECON
We know you’re busy, and the above suggestions can consume time and energy. We also know you’re looking for an easier way, and VESPECON’s services can increase your referrals without marketing’s added expense and effort. Our service connects general practitioners with specialists who will virtually consult and co-manage difficult cases. While some cases are handled as in-house consultations, others progress, and require referral to an in-person veterinary specialist. When you join our specialists network, you instantly become our clients’ preferred provider. VESPECON can help you increase referrals by facilitating the following:
- Forging new referral relationships — Joining our network instantly connects you to all our referring veterinarians, including those who don’t typically refer, or who use another specialist’s services. Use the connections to meet new rDVMS and strengthen existing partnerships.
- Appointment booking and coordination — We book your patients into slots reserved for VESPECON’s patients. Instead of price-shopping, clients can use our convenient concierge services to book directly with you. A specialist has already been consulted on each case we refer, so you can feel confident that patients have been worked up appropriately and are ready for your expertise.
- Superior customer service — Referring veterinarians and clients will keep coming back because the VESPECON process is so easy. Also, your CSR staff will be more available to handle calls and questions and address pressing concerns, because we deal with scheduling.
Increasing your referrals may require a multimodal strategy, but joining VESPECON can provide the foundation you need. We can help you instantly gain new referral partners and improve your practice operations, without lifting a finger. If you’re interested in joining our network or learning more about our services, contact us to get started.