Tips to help you when reviewing your membership prices
We are being asked lots of questions from our clients surrounding memberships in practice more this year than any before. Many owners are concerned that with Brexit being currently staged for 31st October, this will coincide with letters dropping through doors confirming a pricing increase and therefore causing concerns that patients may cancel their direct debits.
So what do you do? Well, you must continue to develop your business; annually reviewing fees and making an increase for your memberships is vital. One thing is for certain it is not going to be cheaper to run your practice in 2020 than it is in 2019 so if you do not increase your prices then you will already be behind before you start.
Here are some of my tips on increasing fees and supporting you with minimising the effects:
- First and foremost to increase membership means you have to decide on your examinations and hygienist appointment pricing for 2020 now. This involves re-calculating your hourly rates based on your 2019 data so far and planning for forecasted expenses for next year.
- Membership should be at least £10 less a year than it would be to pay as you go, so if this is not the case you can do something about it for 2020.
- Make sure that you have all the memberships you need. We still see many practices with two or three memberships, you need a membership for every occasion. In my practice we had eight primary memberships, these are not to be advertised.
- You should be risk assessing every patient based on their clinical need for perio and caries. Let’s face it most patients would benefit from more hygienist treatments than examinations. If the caries risk is low then you have a major opportunity to start reducing how often you see a patient for an examination and increase the time for the prevention hygienist treatment.
- Dentists, you must take the lead with membership, you need to be prescribing what a patient needs (risk assessing) and then making sure that you do a rehearsed script to communicate your findings with your patients (what this change actually means) and then you need to follow this up with a verbal handover to the front desk team. Do not expect the front desk team to ‘sell’ ‘upgrades’ they should be re-enforcing the prescription from you and then they can complete the necessary paperwork.
- The reception team need to be fully briefed on the increases and when the increases for new patients take effect. This work needs to start from November for price changes usually arising in January.
- Verbal skills for the reception team are paramount and you need to train them early and role play with the team to check that they have them off pat. They need to have many scripts including:
- Confirmation script – confirming increases and why
- Cancellation script – if a patient wishes to cancel they can confirm the benefits they will be losing and the pay as you go fees so that the patients can make an informed choice of what they do next
- Confirmation of guarantees script – if patients no longer wish to be a member
- Confirmation of guarantees script – if patients are part of a membership appointments need to take place to keep guarantees
- Reassurance script of only seeing a dentist once a year – backing up the risk assessment and increase time with the hygienist team as prescribed
- Clinical question script – if a patient has clinical questions and how to deal with that
- Complaint script – how to handle a membership related complaint in line with the complaints procedure
- The reception team need to know all the unique selling points of being a member and these need to delivered in a great tone, good body language and good words so that you prevent anyone from cancelling.
- If a patient has been made redundant make sure the reception team know how to handle this situation as many memberships include it as a cover benefit.
- Make sure all your platforms and branded materials are ready for the change over so that you do not have outdated materials.
These top tips cover the main questions we have been asked about membership over the last few weeks. If you do have a specific question on membership or anything else then do not hesitate to get in contact and we can answer it in a podcast for you. To send us a question you can email us via the website or use social media.