Cash flow can be a stressful task for any business, and it can be even more challenging for dental practices. There can be difficulties working with insurance companies as well as collecting from patients. Healthy cash flow should be a core part of any practice, and without it, a practice will not function properly. Practices with irregular cash flow see problems in every aspect of their practice, from marketing to payroll.
I have personally felt the effects of this very problem. I witnessed what should have been a successful business struggle and lose its quality employees as the result of faltering cash flow. As you can imagine, these issues manifest themselves at a patient level as well. If you’re experiencing these issues in your dental practice, there are many things you can do to fix the problem. I’ve studied this issue in many businesses and practices and would like to provide some suggestions.
Make it easy for patients to pay you
I realize this sounds like common sense, but I’ve seen so many dental offices that complicate their own collection process. I recently asked some practice owners in Utah, “What payment options do you provide for your patients?” Several responded that they send patients a credit card form in the mail with their statement. Patients then fill out the form and mail it back to the practice. Some offices reported that it took 60 to 90 days to collect. Practices were waiting on the client to get around to filling out the form (while admitting that some patients are not comfortable with this process), and then get it into the mail. This method is antiquated and inefficient. Today’s technology provides a much more viable option that allows patients to pay via your website. Then you have the funds within two to three days instead of two to three months. Start accepting paymentson your website today and improve your cash flow.
Cut out the middle men
The “middle men” I’m referring to here are insurance companies. They’re getting in the way and affecting your profits and revenue stream. In my interaction with dentists and office managers all over the country, I’ve not met many who enjoy dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies can hurt your cash flow and cripple your profit margins.
Sixty-four percent of dental patients don’t have dental insurance. Many I’ve spoken with feel as though it’s a waste of money and has very small benefit to them. While this is absolutely a problem, it can be an opportunity for your practice. Some dental practices I’ve worked with see the flaws in the dental insurance system and have opted to provide an alternative via in-house membership plans. Creating an in-house membership plan will give your practice recurring revenue every month while helping patients gain access to the dental care they deserve. These plans involve some setup and ongoing maintenance. There are membership software options available to help you with this process.
Start a reserve fund
Many of the practices I work with admit their businesses have no form of reserves. This can be a difficult process to tackle, but absolutely worth it. Start small and begin to put money away for a rainy day. This reserve can help your practice get through slow revenue periods, help cover employee salaries, order supplies for procedures, or invest in marketing and other growth opportunities. Neglecting any of these things can result in poor service, which will drive patients to other practices.
If your practice is experiencing cash flow issues, I hope you’ll consider these suggestions. These ideas may not be the silver bullet to end all your problems, but they can be a great start in improvement. If you have other ideas, success stories, or solutions that have worked for your practice, please feel free to share them here!