Membership plans can be a key source of revenue and security for dental practices, and reassuring for patient members. For these reasons and more, they are very popular and offered by most practices these days.
So, if your dental practice membership plans aren’t returning the results you want, read on to find out the benefits of membership plans, tips for creating them and advice on how to market them effectively.
What is a Dental Membership Plan?
These days, most practices will offer their own in-house membership plan. This is a payment plan, completely defined by your own practice, which allows patients to pay a manageable monthly or yearly subscription fee to cover their dental treatment.
What are the Benefits of Dentist Membership Plans?
The reason that dentist membership plans are so popular is because they have so many benefits. Not just for dental practices and stakeholders, but for patients too!
Benefits for patients
The most obvious benefits for patients are financial. Many people can be reluctant to seek regular check-ups or dental care due to fear of unexpected treatment costs. With a membership plan, those costs are spread into regular, reasonable and predictable payments.
In turn, this helps patients maintain better oral health. It encourages them to visit a practice more often, which allows potential problems to be identified sooner. This can then minimise the need for painful, extensive and expensive treatments further down the line.
Benefits for practices
The greatest benefit that membership plans have for dentist practices is patient retention. Once a patient has found a plan that works for them, with practice staff they like, they are a lot more likely to stay loyal when they are able to spread the cost.
Another major plus point for dental membership plans is that they allow you to forecast your revenue more accurately. The small but consistent payments for plan coverage can help provide stability in your income stream. It takes away the risk of financial lulls during economically bleaker times.
The final considerable benefit for practices and patients is that they lessen the reliance on dental insurance. Insurance companies can be complicated to the point of obstructive for both patients and practices to deal with. A dental practice membership plan will allow everyone to cut out this middleman while still leaving treatment options affordable for patients.
How Can You Recruit More Patients to Dental Membership Plans?
Despite these having benefits to both parties, some practices struggle with convincing people to sign up for plans. If you’re rolling out a membership plan for the first time, or struggling with recruitment, here are some suggestions to help you grow in house dental membership plan take up.
Ensure your plans work for your patients
Look at the needs of your patient demographic and build your plans around them.
Keep your plans affordable for your patients. This might mean offering different levels of coverage, or smaller, more regular payments. Lower income areas will appreciate manageable monthly payment options as well as yearly ones. Just the sight of the hefty sum needed to cover an annual payment can be intimidating when finances are tight.
Finally, keep your dentist membership plans straightforward. They should quick to explain and easy to comprehend. Lots of complicated clauses, details and jargon will just overwhelm and discourage your patients.
Ensure your plans work for your practice
Make plan prices reasonable and competitive but not unsustainable. Discounts may attract sign ups, but plans should be a way to financially secure your practice not to cripple it. Don’t undervalue the services you are offering, or the costs involved in providing them.
Furthermore, you can use the contents of plans to your practice’s advantage. If you’re looking to promote preventative measures, then focus your plans around good value regular check-ups and hygiene work. If your practice is more cosmetically orientated, look at how you can maximise this through your plan’s coverage.
Train your team on your plan
All your staff, not just those on frontline reception, should know the intricacies of the plans you offer. After all, these staff will need to be able to answer any questions or combat any negative misconceptions which come their way.
Don’t just arm them with figures and details, try to make sure they understand the plans. And believe in the positive ways that they can help your patients. Genuine interest and support are always worth more and received better than rehearsed, enforced sales patter.
Equally important is not putting too much pressure on your team to turn into high roller salespeople. Don’t impose hard, strict targets on your team as this could lead to outlandish upselling or intimidation tactics. These intense methods won’t just discourage patients from enrolling on the payment plan – they might even cause them to find a new practice completely..
By all means, set goals and encourage sales but be reasonable and sympathetic. Both to your team AND to your patients.
Use automated payment systems and specialist software
The idea of membership plans is to improve both the service you provide and the working of your practice. Take advantage of the payment systems and specialist software available out there to provide you with administrative support. As well as taking the pressure of managing any extra paperwork away from your staff, these services will also make the process simpler and more consistent for your patients.
How Can You Use Marketing to Grow Dental Membership Plan Recruitment?
The success of your private dentist membership plans relies heavily on how wide the awareness of them is. People can’t sign up for something if they don’t know even know it exists. If you’re unsatisfied with the recruitment numbers for your plans, here are some tips to maximise your marketing impact.
Use social media
With the NHS at their disposal, most British people probably don’t even consider healthcare costs. Insurance can be deemed unnecessary, while things like dental costs are left to be dealt with as and when they arise. Even those who do think about potential the finances of their health probably won’t even know that dental membership plans exist.
Social media is a great tool for raising awareness. Promote your plans on Facebook and Twitter: engage on the terms of your patients in places they visit regularly. Write informative but entertaining articles and posts that can outline the details of plans in an informal, fun way. This removes the forceful element of direct selling.
Most satisfied patients will happily share their positive experiences, so create spaces where word of mouth can flourish, and potential patients can see it.
Use printed promotional material
Get some concise but comprehensive leaflets to stock in your practice and hand out to patients. Display them prominently in key areas and make them freely available.
Things like large-scale mailshots tend to be too scattered and undirected for this sort of initiative and rarely worth the cost. However, patients may feel overwhelmed in the practice environment and appreciate having something they can take away. That way they can take their time, consider it alone, and engage at their own pace.
This paperwork in itself is a handy aide-memoire. But even if they don’t come back immediately to join, they will be in a position to make an informed decision next time they visit the practice organically.
You can also include leaflets in existing correspondence: attach them to appointment reminder cards, treatment bills, and other outreach you do to ensure they are at the forefront of patients minds at optimum times.
Enlist the help of your practice staff
Whatever outreach marketing you chose to employ, from small to significant campaigns, remember that majority of your recruitment is going to happen in your dental surgery. Your frontline staff are your key recruiters.
Invite their opinions on plan design, encourage them to embrace the benefits and prep them for the all unusual questions that might come their way. Regularly refresh their training, and always leave them feeling supported. Also remember to consult them to gather feedback from patients and through their own observations. By seeing what encourages and what discourages people first-hand, they will have valuable insights you can use to shape further promotions and plans.
Dentist membership plans are beneficial for both practices and for patients. They encourage patient retention, improve financial stability, and even gift patients with peace of mind. A decent membership plan will allow patients to trust that whatever happens to their dental health, they will be able to get it treated regardless of cost. If your practice doesn’t offer this option, or if it just isn’t being taken up, you might be surprised by the benefits a bit of extra planning will bring you.