Should You Offer Memberships In Your Office? Part 1 of 2.

We’re going to break this topic down into two parts over two different episodes. This episode is really about asking the question, should you offer membership plans? 

Maybe you should, maybe you shouldn’t. 

But we’ll go through some things that should help you decide if you’re not currently offering a plan, if you should, or if you are offering a plan, how you can make it better. 

Maybe you even should stop offering a membership plan. We’ll go through the 9 Deadly Sins of memberships, and how they’re usually done wrong. 

You may have heard a patient say something like “you billed my insurance wrong, it’s your fault, not mine.” Or the “He Said, She Said” game.

Blah, blah, blah! Right?

This is not a good situation to be in. It’s not fun for anybody. And it’s frustrating for patients and team members because you want to do what’s right for your patients, and they just want to get the dentistry they need. You just want to be as clear and transparent as possible. 

So on a future podcast, we’re going to talk about ways to make treatment planning more clear, especially with your membership plans (including how we actually always give our patients our written estimate before we start, rather than after how that’s helped us grow the practice). 

Maybe it’s something that even keeps you up at night, which is figuring out the questions – just how do you please all of these patients, do the right thing and deliver GOLD Star Service?

The first thing I’ll say is to not let that keep you awake, you can’t please everybody. If you try to be everything to everybody, you won’t be anything to anybody as the saying goes. This certainly applies to  running your dental practice. 

Memberships done wrong Deadly Sins:

  1. Poor return on investment, and or making hygiene a loss leader
  2. Your membership plan sounds too much like insurance
  3. Not promoting your membership internally and externally
  4. Not knowing the lifetime value of your patient
  5. Not knowing your numbers
  6. Flat rate discounting.
  7. Not making it look professional
  8. Thinking your patient is too sophisticated or too smart to want something like a membership plan
  9. The worst sin of them all. BEING BORING!

So depending where you live, you may hear things like:

There are too many dentists in your area!

It’s too crowded!

The market is saturated.

I’ve certainly heard that in my area. The truth is, anywhere that’s nice to live these days is going to have competition. The word gets out faster with technology. When people find somewhere nice to live or nice to vacation, word gets out quickly. People want to live in those nice places. 

So unless you want to live in a cold, isolated area, where there’s no shopping, no movie theaters, and nothing fun to do, you’re probably going to have some competition.

The REAL truth is that your competition really is much less about other dental offices as it is just life, your patients have bills to pay. They have accidents that happen. They have unforeseen expenses. They have vacations. Christmas and weddings, college and retirement, fixed income and new jobs and all these things to plan for. 

Your focus should be to really think like a patient when you create a membership plan, NOT think like a dentist or dental hygienist. 

Think about your competition as other things in life. Because, roughly 50% of the population has not seen a dentist in the past year. That number may be even higher now, since many people have isolated or quarantined themselves in some areas, or been fearful of their safety. 

Certainly, people need to see a dentist like you obviously, and a lot of people who are not seeing dentists are not people who are severely financially challenged. A lot of these people who aren’t regularly seeing a dentist are teachers, doctors, physicians, lawyers, healthcare professionals, engineers, and other kinds of professions.

You know the number one reason they haven’t come to see you? It’s really no lack of perceived need. That is really the bottom line of why people don’t come to see you as often as they should sometimes.

Back to the point, when you’re thinking about membership plans in your office, and you think about these 9 deadly sins, think about what’s valuable to your patient in their personal lives.

There’s a saying that goes like this. You can come to the ocean with a teaspoon, a bucket, a barrel, or a dump truck, and pull water out of the ocean, and the ocean is not going look or feel any different. 

There’s plenty of opportunity out there, more than enough! You have to shift to a creative mindset, not a scarcity mindset.

There’s plenty of money to go around, there’s plenty of needs to be met for all of us, patients and practice owners alike. The first thing is you got to clear out the head trash. May time, insurance is the problem. Saturation really isn’t the problem, and being short money is not the problem. Sit down with your team, or your pen and pad, and think about all the opportunities around, and how you can offer new and interesting things to your patients that may make them interested in signing up for your membership plans. 

Warren Buffett has stated that he stays away from investments in companies that have lots of technology or are technology driven, where there’s fixed pricing. What is price fixing? A bad, low paying PPO plan is a perfect example!

So, if you’re a low tech office, if your office is kind of old school and you don’t worry about updating a lot of things, and you are just very bright “bread and butter” in your services, then, being heavy insurance driven may be just fine. However, if you’re a progressive and growing office, you may want to take another look at how much control any given PPO has over your office. 

Two reports to run tomorrow when you get into the office, and study:

  1. IVNI (Insurance vs Non-Insurance Patients in your practice)
  2. NIVI (Non-Insurance Insurance vs Insurance Payments Total Collections in your practice)

Have a great week and join us on the next episode!

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, check out this episode by clicking here.

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