In-house memberships are a great way to develop loyal patients for your dental practice. This reduces your dependency on insurance plans, and helps patients afford their dental care.
During my conversations with office managers and dentists, I’ve discovered mistakes to avoid when creating an in-house membership program.
1. Failing to install systems
Many dental practices believe they can just keep members’ names in a binder or use Google Docs to manage the member database and financial data. Inputting patient data into Google Docs is not secure and can be easily hacked. Another problem is that dental practices rely on one person to manage the membership program. Practices need a system in place that the owner is responsible for. Having a system to manage tge in-house membership makes it easier to grow your program and manage the tasks and responsibilities associated with it.
2. Not automating payments
Many practices task staff members with manually running credit cards for all of their membership patients. Jobs like that can be managed more efficiently and predictably by a computer. Your staff’s time is extremely valuable and to waste it on minor tasks like running credit cards for your membership program is not a smart business decision. Automating the membership is a wise decision for your practice.
3. Not automating patient renewals
This is probably the biggest problem I’ve seen when practices start an in-house membership program. They sign up hundreds of new patients and then fail to automate their renewals. The office staff then must call hundreds of people to ask them if they want to renew their membership. This wastes time and forces the staff to resell your program. Focus on selling the program once and then put patients on auto renewal. The whole goal of an in-house membership program is to retain patients for a lifetime, not just for six months or a year.
4. Charging too much or too little
Many practices charge too much for their membership and this scares patients away. The average price that I’ve seen is around $25 to $30 per month per member. Experiment with your pricing and the benefits you offer and find a happy medium where you get a steady flow of patient sign-ups each month. Also, don’t lose money with your in-house membership program. The whole point is to increase your profits by cutting out third party insurance companies.
5. Failing to market the benefit
Many practices do nothing to spread the word and gain exposure for their memberships. If you’re not willing to invest in marketing, your practice’s in-house membership program will go nowhere. One idea is to have a page on your website dedicated to your membership program. Create videos, testimonials, Facebook posts, brochures, and send out direct mail marketing and other forms of advertisings. Educate your staff on the importance of this program.
6. Sending people away if they don’t have insurance
Another mistake I see from many practices is that they turn patients away if they don’t have dental insurance. Approximately 50% of the US population doesn’t have dental insurance. This is a huge untapped market that most dentists don’t take advantage of. These people need dental care too, and if you create an in-house membership program you can offer them a great plan to help them with their dental care needs.
Retirees often lose their dental insurance benefits. As people age they need more help with their oral hygiene. Create a plan that is specifically designed for these patients and you will see a dramatic increase in patients and revenue.
7. Using a software company that takes a cut of your recurring revenue
Many dental office are aware that I am the CEO and founder of BoomCloud, a membership software built for dental practices. I have noticed that many dental practices sign up to use other 3rd party software and these companies are taking 10% or more of the practices recurring revenue. I believe software should be a fixed expense and not a variable expense that grows because your practices does all the legwork. Watch out for companies that try and sneak this into their contract with you. At BoomCloud we charge a flat fee to use our software plus any merchant fees (we do not get a cut of merchant fees, we actually are in the process of re-negotiating these fees for all our customers)
To learn more about in-house membership, visit BoomCloud Apps. Someone is always available to online chat and answer your questions.
By Jordon Comstock
This article was first published by DentistryIQ. Republished with permission of PennWell Corporation. All rights reserved.