With insurance growth skyrocketing, I have gotten more and more emails and calls about how to keep and maintain our fee-for-service patients. Most large cities have insurance penetration of over 70%. In some areas we see 80% of potential clients having some form of dental insurance. To stay viable and competitive in today’s tough market place, we suggest an in-office dental plan (NOT a dental insurance plan).
Almost twenty years ago we started a plan for a client that was on the brink of bankruptcy and it literally moved his bottom line out of the red and back into the black. The idea is to offer your fee-for-service patients (those without some form of dental insurance) an incentive to not only come in, but a reason to stay with you after they get there. As an added bonus, an in-office dental plan will also garner hundreds of direct referrals from your current patients. Here are the basics:
• A plan where for about $175-$250 per year an adult patient gets two cleanings, exams, consultations, x-rays, fluoride, plus some percentage off of any dental work they actually have done.
• For additional family members we scale the price down for the volume or for kids.
1. Step one is just deciding what price point will work for your area. I have seen these programs from New York to Arkansas and the $175-$250 range works everywhere.
2. Step two is to decide the percentage discount you are willing to extend for any other dental work. Keep in mind that most PPO’s will knock 20-35% off your normal fees. My suggestion would be to go for something around 15%. Enticing to the patient but still 10-20% better than the hit you take with a PPO.
3. Last but not least would be to look at how you might step this down for the second adult or child in the same family. I would think about 20% less for a second adult and about $100-$150 for each child would be fair.
Once we have the details down, we need to design a marketing piece in the form of a brochure and/or postcard that could be mailed or given out in the office in order to enroll our new patients in this program. Here are links for an example for the sign up form and marketing piece done by pediatric dentist Dr. Mary Ellen Nesnay in New York. She has an awesome practice and she has become a great leader for her growing business.
In my McKinney office, we first tried this marketing strategy with the local Ford dealership. I just called the owner who was also a patient and asked if I could drop by for a minute to ask him a question. When I got there, I commented that “it must be difficult to find good employees and even more difficult to keep them. If there were a way to provide dental benefits to all of your employees and their families at no cost to you, would you be interested?” To which he commented: “What’s the catch?” I went on to tell him that there was no catch and about the offer and upon leaving the dealership I had all of the employees (80) and their families totaling almost three hundred new patients. I created a member card, a letter of introduction, and encouraged them to give us a call as soon as possible.
As you can see, a program like this is not just for your patients of record, but also for those marketing campaigns that reach out to the public as well as trying to target small companies that do not have the overhead and profit to afford dental benefits for their employees. When doing this with small companies you can go further out of your normal draw area to make it successful. Searching for new and better ways to help people find your office and stay forever is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS