Let’s take a quick look at consumer behavior in America:
- Americans have a long history of accessing debt to purchase what they want.
- During the pandemic, Americans had extra money due to stimulus packages and discretionary financial spending that did not include travel, entertainment, luxury items, or restaurants.
- Moving forward from the pandemic, Americans will continue to access debt to purchase what they want.
This economic history mini lesson simply points out that in both normal and economically difficult times, Americans use debt to purchase what they want. Fortunately for dental practices, this includes dental services.
Interest-free patient financing
Patient financing is an option that is highly appealing to many dental patients. In all economic conditions patients will often accept more high-fee dentistry, which is either needed or desired, if they can finance it. Given this, patients are extremely interested in the lowest-cost financing available.
Levin Group recommends that practices set a target of increasing the use of interest-free financing every year. The simple rationale behind this recommendation is that when patients take advantage of interest-free financing, case acceptance, practice production, and practice profitability will all increase. We have seen this scenario continue to repeat itself when practices properly implement interest-free financing. Unfortunately, although many practices currently offer interest-free financing, it is extremely underutilized.
Implementing interest-free financing
Here are several suggestions that will make interest-free financing a production driver in the practice. The practice will have to give up a small portion of the fee to the financing company, but the reality is that, in most cases, patients who need financing but don’t have access to (or don’t know they have access to) interest-free financing won’t accept treatment. So, it is better to have a high percentage of your fee, than no percentage at all.
- Tell every patient who calls in that interest-free financing is available. A simple script could be: “By the way, Mrs. Jones, I wanted to let you know that our practice is now offering interest-free financing for patients who’d like to take advantage of it.“
- Make interest-free financing signage visible to each patient in the practice. Posters, flyers, and brochures will help keep interest-free financing top-of-mind.
- Tell patients about interest-free financing during case presentations. Start by letting patients know that financial options are available, including interest-free financing, and that you or a team member will review the options at the end of the presentation. You can even include scripting that lets patient know that your practice’s financial options almost always allow patients to afford treatment.
Simply implementing these three steps will immediately increase the amount of interest-free financing being used, which normally correlates with increased practice production and profit. Achieving the annual profit goal is critical, and interest-free financing is one of the components that will allow that to happen.
More by Dr. Levin:
- The one-day rule for overdue patients
- Dentists: Don’t be afraid to delegate!
- 8 steps to maximize the benefits of adding a new service