Nine questions to ask when evaluating a financial partner

Aug. 10, 2009

Selecting the best financing partner is one of the most important practice management decisions you will ever make. I purposely use the term financing partner. You need to work together to help more patients receive the care they deserve.

Here are nine questions you can use to evaluate financing partners:

Question #1 -- Do they offer generous credit lines? Every credit approval should have a minimum credit line of $5,000. Any amount less than that will severely hinder your case conversation process.

Question #2 -- Do they have high approval rates? Different finance companies use varying criteria to judge the credit worthiness of patients. After using a new financing partner for a period of time, you will be able to see how their approval rates compare with your current financing partner.

Question #3 -- Do they offer a revolving line of credit at locked-in interest rates? Choose a financing partner that offers a revolving line of credit so additional treatment fees can easily be added in the future. The interest rate should also be locked in and not tied to a fluctuating prime rate.

Question #4 -- Do they offer no-interest financing for as long as 24 months? No-interest financing is hugely popular with consumers and very affordable. Financing $9,000 worth of care for 24 months is only about $378 a month. One of the fastest growing patient financing companies reports that over 80% of its customers choose no-interest financing. For maximum effectiveness, offer your patients no-interest and extended payment plans.

Question #5 -- Do they offer no-interest finance plans with equal monthly payments? This question is more important than it may seem. Some finance companies offer extremely low payments (usually 3% of the balance) with a huge balloon payment at the end. As you might imagine, the balloon method will create an unwelcome surprise to some of your patients who make only the minimum payments.

Question #6 -- Do they offer case conversation tools? Customized case conversation tools such as the payment options worksheet save you time and make it easier for people to say yes.

Question #7 -- Do they have an online reporting and tracking service? This service should allow you to view your transactions in real time 24/7 via the Internet. Don’t wait for a monthly report of patient financing activity. The service should also allow you to track individual applications, approvals, and confirmation of payment by the patients, and generate daily updated reports of all outstanding approvals for the past 90 days.

Question #8 -- Do they work with your practice management software provider? Choose a partner that will work with your practice management software company to install an interface that allows you to apply for patient financing using existing information in your files. This will allow you to prequalify in seconds while you’re on the phone with them.

Question #9 -- Do they provide extensive and ongoing training? Choose a company that will help you integrate the system into your practice and evaluations after implementation.

Dr. Nate Booth is a speaker, consultant, and author who provides dentists with the information and systems they need to thrive in their dental practices. Nate teaches case acceptance at the South Beach Dental Institute and is a practice management advisor for ChaseHealthAdvance. He is the creator of the in-office, DVD-based program The “Yes” System: How to Make It Easy for People to Accept Comprehensive Dentistry. For more information go to or call (800) 917-0008.