In-house memberships are a great way to develop loyal patients for your dental practice. This reduces your dependency on insurance plans, and helps patients afford their dental care.You’ve heard it everywhere, from magazines, presentations, dental conferences, and colleagues. Creating and growing an in-house membership program or savings plan is one of the best ways to grow and retain your patients, reduce your dependency on insurance companies, and add more revenue streams to your dental practice.
There are so many benefits to creating an in-house membership program that help your practice financially and your patients clinically that it’s challenging to write about all the benefits in one article. Many practices are creating their own programs, and the big question I hear often as I talk to dental practices across the nation is—how should my practice structure pricing for my in-house membership program?
Here I want to talk about pricing strategies that I believe all dental practices can use to benefit their practice and patients.
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The importance of auto renewals
Most practices tend to do a one-time charge for the year, then they don’t renew patients who have subscribed to their program. This is a bad practice because the whole purpose of creating an in-house membership program is to keep and retain loyal patients.
Let’s compare an in-house membership program to Amazon Prime. Annual Prime memberships automatically renew each year and people end up buying more from Amazon because the company keeps people loyal by auto renewing subscriptions. This is critical to understand—by auto renewing your memberships, patients will stay loyal and continue to use your services. This revenue model or structure is called the “Evergreen Model," and it allows your practice to increase its value as you grow your program.
If you manually collect payments monthly or annually, you’ll be off to a bad start. The main goal of in-house membership programs is to grow it to hundreds or thousands of patients. If your staff has to manually run cards and manually call patients to check if they want to subscribe, this model is not good for your practice. Make auto renewals a priority because as the system grows it will be hard to manage without auto renewals.
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Why you should consider monthly pricing
Some patients have big families or are on fixed incomes, and they might not be able to pay for a full year. You want to keep these people in mind as you offer the membership program to patients. It’s important that you auto renew these patients each month or this type of structure won’t work in your practice.
Why you need a system to help manage your program
If you really want to grow and efficiently manage your membership program, you’ll need membership softwareto help you organize plans, automate payments, track members, and allow members to sign up from your website. Software can make your life easier when managing a membership program, and it relieves the headache of manually tracking and charging patients.
Another reason you need a system is because your front desk manager might be the only one managing the program, but what happens if the person leaves the practice?
Your program fails because the person managing it no longer works for you. It’s crucial that your practice creates a system and uses software to manage and guide your staff on how to create a successful membership program.
Don't charge too much
The problem I’ve seen is dental practices charging way too much for their membership program so patients don’t sign up because it’s too expensive. The average price across the nation is about $299 per year per patient. This number can increase or decrease depending on your local market, but I would suggest using that figure as a guide to price your program.
If your price is too high, then your program won't take off. It it’s too low it may hurt your practice. This is why it’s important to understand your local market and what the costs are for this type of program. You can add value by offering other services or products that increase the membership cost. You can also create tiers and have patients choose between three or four options.
Don't lose money
The purpose of an in-house membership program is to not lose money! You’re not working with insurance so you can offer any kind of savings you want to your patients. But don't lose money to gain new patients. If a patient is paying $299 per year, the person should get at least 10% off major procedures such as crowns and bridges, and 15% off other procedures such as perio cleanings.
Again, you can create any discount you want to attract your local market. I know of some practices that offer $250 per year and members receive 25% off all services. The greatest benefit is that you’re in control and you benefit from the membership fee plus any other treatments patients need.
Creating an in-house membership program can help you reduce your dependency on insurance, add predictable recurring revenue, and create loyal patients to your practice. I would encourage all dental practices to consider implementing this type of program because it truly helps grow your patient base and attract the large market of patients that do not have dental insurance.
If you have any questions about this business strategy I would love to help. You can also download a free ebook that discusses how to create an in-house membership program.