Why your dental office should consider a membership club

Laura Hatch says that having a membership club has kept her dental practice thriving. Patients who otherwise could not afford their dental care can now receive regular care for a monthly fee.

Nov 21st, 2016
Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2016 11 Dental Membership Club 1
Until about a year ago, I had no idea what a membership club was. I heard the words get tossed around here and there, but I never researched the idea. Finally, last year I stopped at the Illumitrac booth at the AADOM convention to learn more about membership clubs, and I’m so glad I did. We started a membership club in our office this year, and we love it. For anyone else who might want to know more I want to explain how a membership club benefits our practice.

Basically, a membership club is much like any other club you might join, such as a fitness club or a Costco. Specifically, when your office is able to offer a membership, the patient pays an upfront cost to be part of your membership club, and then pays monthly fees to receive certain dental care.

For example, the upfront cost to get into the membership club might be $99, and then the patient might pay, say, $59 a month. For that fee, over the course of a year they receive two cleanings, exams, and necessary x-rays. They also receive a discount on out-of-pocket costs for any dental work they need.

Based on my experience, here are the top four reasons I think every office should consider a membership club.

1. You won’t lose patients just because they’ve lost insurance—Have you ever had patients say they can’t come for their scheduled visit because they lost their dental insurance? Patients think they can’t visit the dentist if they don’t have insurance. They assume there’s no way they could afford out-of-pocket costs for dental work. A membership program solves this issue by giving your office the ability to keep patients in the schedule who normally would cancel due to no insurance. The membership program shows patients how they can pay a small monthly amount for the work they need, which lets them come in for dental work without fearing the cost. I would rather our patients pay each month and come for their cleanings so they remain active patients, instead of having them cancel and not return until they have insurance again (or until they’re in so much pain they can’t put off a visit any longer).

2. Membership helps patients prioritize their dental health—If we can help patients avoid canceling their recare appointments because of out-of-pocket costs, we can help them improve or maintain their dental health. On the other hand, if patients don’t visit us for a long time due to lack of insurance or high costs, small oral issues might become big issues. As their dental office, I would rather they visit regularly to maintain their health and fix issues while they’re small, even if we do it at a discounted fee. Honestly, giving a discount is better than not seeing someone at all, and this means we help our patients maintain their dental health.

The benefits of in-house membership programs for your dental practice
6 mistakes to avoid when creating an in-house membership program for your dental practice

3. Your team looks like the good guys because they focus on dental health, not on costs—With our office using a membership club, my team is able to focus more on patients’ dental health, whether they have insurance or not. I know how frustrating it can be when patients need dental care but put it off because they’re worried about cost or not having insurance. Having a membership plan allows my team to do better at helping all patients move forward with treatment. Our patients appreciate that we have something in place to help them receive dental care. It puts us in a good light when we aren’t so focused on the idea of dental insurance. It also helps improve patient loyalty because what they perceive as a good deal for them, in addition to putting the focus on patient care.

4. You’ll get more new patients with a membership plan—There are two reasons that a membership club will bring more patients to your office. First, prospective patients with no insurance often worry about the price of a procedure they need. Having this membership program allows us to get these patients in for their dental care, which has helped increase our number of new patients.

Second, because we decided to work with Illumitrac, we have the ability to name our membership program after our office. I did not realize that this would be a benefit when we started, but it’s been a huge help. Basically, Illumitrac is a software that helps us with the administration behind the program, which not only saves our staff time, it allows us to name our program Scripps Rock Dental Membership Club.

Here’s why this helps with new patients: when our patients talk with people who mention they don’t have insurance, our patients tell them that our office offers a membership club as a benefit, and it seems like it’s 100% ours. This has increased our number of new patient referrals that we might not have gotten before we offered this.

As you can tell, I’m very happy with our decision to implement this membership plan into our office. I wanted to take the time to share with others why it has worked for us. If you and your team are tired of patients cancelling because they lost their insurance, I highly recommend that you consider a membership club for your office.

For the most current office manager headlines, click here.

For the most current dental headlines, click here.

Laura Hatch is the founder of Front Office Rocks, a leader in online front office training. Laura has worked with her husband, Dr. Hatch, to start and grow two extremely successful dental practices (one in Baltimore and a current office in San Diego) to million dollar, fee-for-services offices that focus on exceptional customer service and average 80 new patients per month. As the leading authority on dental front office training, Laura has developed training methods that consist of established ideas and practical training that can be easily implemented into any office. She can be reached at Laura@FrontOfficeRocks.com.

More in Insurance