“We have around 3,000 Denplan patients, a small NHS contingent accounting for about a quarter of the business and a few fee-per-item patients. We try to keep the PFPI patients to a minimum though, as we think that getting them on a payment plan not only helps us with our regular income but is great for the patients, as they don’t have to worry about large bills, which can be a major barrier to accepting optimal treatment plans.
We looked into how efficiently we were working and made a number of cut backs and money saving measures, but the bulk of this huge increase in our expenses was only feasibly going to come from one place – our private patients. We wanted to make sure that any rise in costs was both justified and necessary, so we spoke with our Denplan Consultant. She went over the figures with us and confirmed that we were looking at potentially having to raise our fees by up to 8%–which is a lot by anyone’s standards.
We were really worried about retention if we went ahead with this increase, so our Consultant put us in touch with the Denplan marketing department who helped us with some marketing literature to soften the blow for our existing patients.
We were really pleased with the newsletter, so we decided to look into producing a more personalised letter to our Denplan patients when the time came to raise the fees. It gave us a good opportunity to explain why the costs were going up and it worked really well on the back of the newsletter content. Usually when costs go up we get a few disgruntled patients coming in complaining that Denplan had raised their fees again.
This letter allowed us to take responsibility for our prices and offered a more personal touch, which was much better and we certainly had far fewer calls than expected. And we didn’t have to write too much ourselves as it was all taken care of for us.
We asked for new patient referral cards which we call our ‘Golden Tickets’ as I gave them out myself to certain patients at their visits, rather than just having them available to anyone on reception. We wanted to encourage like-minded patients to join, so we were quite choosy about who got one!
I am pretty sure that our marketing and referral cards have helped our practice remain in good financial health, leaving us free to concentrate on caring for our patients.
To get so much marketing support for free as part of our payment plan membership was the icing on the cake. I trusted Denplan 100% to do it as they really understand dentistry and the needs of our practice. This kind of thing would have cost us thousands if we had hired someone in to do it, so I think the support we were given was phenomenal. I was more than happy to take the advice from trained marketing experts–as it let me get on with what I am trained to do–dentistry!”
Mark Doyle Co Principal at Collins House Dental Surgery, Hereford