A dental membership program can be one of the smartest business strategies you implement in your practice in 2020. A dental membership program is a set of plans and benefits that your office creates and offers to your uninsured patients. It is a subscription service much like Amazon Prime but built specifically for your dental practice. Patients typically pay a monthly or yearly membership fee to get access to benefits and savings for your practice. In this article, we will discuss how your practice can start a membership program, attract uninsured and retired patients, and help add revenue for your practice.
Benefits of growing a dental membership program
Starting and growing your own dental membership program offers many benefits for practice owners and patients. Membership programs can help your practice create a predictable, recurring revenue stream. This means, when set up correctly, the revenue will automatically be collected each month and year from your patients who subscribe to the program. Once your membership program matures, this can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in automatic, predictable revenue for your dental practice.
Dental practices are starting membership programs because member patients spend more. After looking at thousands of uninsured patients across the nation, we found that member patients spend 2 to 3.5 times more than nonmember uninsured patients.1
The reasoning behind membership programs
Allow me to explain the reasoning behind having a dental membership program. First, uninsured patients think they can’t go to the dental office without insurance. Once they join a membership program, they feel like they are being taken care of by their dentist.
Second, membership clubs are psychological. There is a reason why Amazon, Costco, and other companies implement membership programs for their customers. People become more loyal because when you commit to someone or to a company, it increases your loyalty.
Third, as you grow a successful dental membership program, the predictable, recurring revenue will start to increase the value of your practice. This is a long-term benefit as you continue to focus on signing up more patients to your program.
Last, one of the best benefits of a membership program is that you build up recurring revenue so that you do not have to rely so much on dental insurance. We all know dental insurance is slowly killing practices across the nation.
Quick ways to grow a dental membership program
To grow your membership program, you will need some quick wins to accelerate its momentum. Let’s talk about the low-hanging fruit to help you get your membership program off to a great start.
These are the four most common ways to quickly grow your program:
Place marketing material in every room. It should be obvious to your patients that you have a membership program. Patients should know right when they walk into your office that a membership program is available. Your patients should be curious about your marketing material. This will give your office staff the chance to talk about the program with your patients.
Get your staff on the same page. Getting everyone on the same page will allow your office to speak clearly about your membership program. The front office manager should not take the brunt of speaking about your program. For example, when one of your hygienists is helping a patient, he or she should have the confidence and understanding about your program to share its benefits with that patient. Working as a team will allow you to have quick wins and increase membership in your program.
Speak about your program with all of your patients whether or not they have dental insurance. All patients need to learn about your membership program. If you are presenting marketing materials and your staff is communicating about your program, speaking with everyone will be easy. You will have printed materials about the program and knowledgeable staff members who can help spread the word.
Pull a report of your uninsured patients in your practice management software. Another quick way to gain traction for your membership program is finding the uninsured patients in your practice. Some practices have hundreds of patients who are not getting the care they need. Presenting a membership program to this population group may cause them to be more accepting of restorative work and other procedures that your practice provides. You can easily send these patients an email or letter in the mail announcing your dental membership program.
The bottom line is, there are many ways to promote your program, but you still need to provide an excellent patient experience so your patients will keep coming back and refer their friends. Building a solid membership program requires great reviews from your patients so you can build trust and credibility with new patients. Podium is a fantastic tool to help increase your positive reviews and attract more patients for your practice by enabling modern, text-based reviews and feedback invitations.
Attracting new uninsured patients
After you have captured the low-hanging fruit using the techniques we’ve talked about, you will want to continue growing your membership program to generate more and more predictable, recurring revenue for your practice.
Here are a few strategies to help attract more uninsured patients to your practice:
Direct mail marketing—Marketing by direct mail can be a fantastic channel to help build awareness about your dental membership program. You can target certain areas; for example, you can send out mailers in 55-plus communities. Many people who live in these areas have lost their dental insurance or are about to lose it. Focus your messaging so that it educates your potential membership patients about the benefits of joining your program.
Facebook and other online advertising—Facebook is great for targeting all sorts of demographics—from young families to retirees. You can segment and send out targeted ads that help educate your audience about your dental membership program.
Attracting retirees—This is one of my favorite strategies because it actually connects you as the dentist for the community. Here are some ways retirees can help your practice:
- Seniors and retirees need dental work done more frequently.
- Many seniors and retirees don’t have dental insurance.
- You can help provide dental care to seniors, families of the seniors, and employees in senior homes.
Take these four steps to attract these types of patients to your membership plan:
Step no. 1: Locate senior homes and 55-plus communities near your dental office.
Step no. 2: Call the activities coordinator of the retirement community.
Step no. 3: Say, “Hello, my name is _____, and I am with the dental practice called ___ down the street. I was wondering if I could give your residents some freebies (toothbrush, floss, and information about dental care)?”
Step no. 4: Schedule a dental presentation with seniors and retirees at their activity location or homeowners’ association clubhouse. The seniors and retirees will know why you are there, because their activities coordinator will let them know about your presentation beforehand. Your presentation will provide warm leads for your practice and new sign-ups for your membership program.
What does a successful membership program look like?
In Figure 1, this particular practice has 1,650 active membership patients who are helping the practice generate more than $400K per year in predictable, recurring revenue, or more than $30K per month in recurring revenue. Consider how revenue like this would benefit your practice.
I hope that you are completely inspired to create and grow a dental membership program for your practice. The great thing about offering a membership program is that it is a win-win solution for your practice and your patients. Change your practice for the better and build a membership program that generates a predictable, recurring revenue stream as well as a loyal patient base for your practice.
1. Rocketfire. The true value of a membership patient. http://saynotoppos.com/2019/01/30/the-true-value-of-a-membership-patient/. Published January 30, 2019. Accessed February 10, 2019.