4 minutes reading time (808 words)

How a membership plan can be more than just money in the bank

Whether you’re a mixed practice or fully private, Practice Plan Regional Support Manager Tracy Webb, explains how having a membership plan can pay dividends.

As I write, we’re teetering on the edge of a recession. Indeed, by the time you read this we may already have plunged into the abyss. So, at times like these businesses need all the help they can get to weather the financial storm.

Here are some of the reasons why a membership plan could help your business.

Regular income

A possible source of shelter from the stormy economic climate could be in the form of a dental membership plan. Plans provide practices with a regular and predictable monthly income in times of uncertainty allowing you to continue to plan. During the COVID lockdowns, a number of practices found the money coming in monthly from the plan was a lifeline. When they were unable to see patients face-to-face there was still money coming into the practice to tide them over.

Builds patient loyalty

Patients who sign up for a membership plan will usually only do so because they like and trust their dentist. If they are contributing to a plan they are unlikely to start shopping around for another dentist or treatment. By offering a plan you’re committing to ensuring your patients are given the opportunity to maintain their oral health with you and it allows you to build a lasting relationship with them. Also, if your plan is branded to your practice, it gives it a more personal feel and helps bond the patient to you and your practice rather than to a third party.

Helps improve patients’ oral health

Plans are a big help to patients too. For their monthly fee, depending on how the practice has chosen to structure their plan, patients are usually entitled to check-ups and hygiene appointments. By signing up for a plan they are investing in their own oral health and by choosing to pay monthly, they’re spreading the cost of this investment. Statistically, patients on plan are more likely to attend their regular appointments as, in effect, they have already paid for them and probably want to make sure they get their money’s worth.

However, pay-as-you-go patients may not feel the same obligation to come to the practice for their oral health appointments and, as the rising cost-of-living squeezes family budgets, practices tell me they are noticing more cancellations from pay-as-you-go patients. If money is tight, it can be very tempting to forego a dental check-up as a way of saving money. However, our experience during the financial crisis of 2007/8 was that very few patients suspended or cancelled their plans and so practices continued to benefit from the income.

Improved job satisfaction

As I have already mentioned, plan patients are more likely to attend their appointments regularly. This allows better relationships to be developed with them and provides more opportunities to educate them about maintaining their oral health. Better educated and engaged patients are more likely to listen to and act on any oral health advice given by their dentist too. Also, by seeing your patients regularly it gives a greater likelihood of being able to carry out preventative dentistry rather than restorative, which is always preferable.

Can help you run your business

Some plan providers such as Practice Plan, offer services over and above just administering your plan. Through them you can gain access to support with the running of a business with advice on topics such as recruitment, HR, finances and marketing. They also offer exclusive events for plan members on subjects that are important to practices and their teams, delivered by leading figures in the dental industry. Some of them even attract CPD credits.

Some plan providers also have field-based teams who build close relationships with their practices and become almost like extra members of the team. Practice Plan has around 25 experienced field-based employees who, as well as helping with ensuring the plan is working for you, can lend a sympathetic ear or a helping hand, either in person or over the phone, as well as providing training and support.

Yes, a plan is a regular source of income, but as you can see, if you choose the right plan and the right provider, it can be so much more than that.

If you are interested in finding out more about Practice Plan and how we help practices to become more profitable call 01691 684165 or visit www.practiceplan.co.uk

About Tracy

Tracy Webb has been a Regional Support Manager/ Business Development Consultant for the Practice Plan group for 17 years and has over 30 years’ experience in the dental industry, including 13 years in practice. Practice Plan is the UK’s leading provider of practice-branded patient membership plans, partnering with over 1,800 dental practices and offering a wide range of business support services.

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