Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time – Arnold H. Glasow
When Andrew Smales of Innovate Dental Studio bought his practice 16 years ago, he was, as he describes it, a one-man band. Now the practice has grown to have three dentists and a hygienist as well as the services of a Consultant Anaesthetist.
At the time of purchase, the practice operated its own in-house membership plan. However, Andrew found the system labour- and time-intensive and chose to ask Practice Plan to administer his plan. However, he confesses that increasing plan membership was not something he considered a priority until recently. “What highlighted the need for the plan for me was during COVID. The guaranteed income helped us quite a bit and I would like to be able to take greater advantage of the security that brings,” Andrew admits. “As well as the benefits to the patients it would also give me more flexibility and stability. When I first bought the practice, I was a one-man band and I found it very tying and difficult to get away from the practice as if I didn’t work, there would be no income. I think having a plan like this gives you that flexibility of being able to have time out and know there’s still money coming in.”
The challenging economic circumstances of the past 18 months prompted Andrew and his partner, Kerry , to look at their business anew and find ways to secure the future of the practice. Having returned from Maternity leave, Kerry has been devoting her attention to finding ways to streamline and optimise the business. As part of her assessment, she identified the membership plan as an area with potential for growth. She and Andrew are now embarking on a campaign to encourage as many patients as possible to sign up to their membership plan.
“The practice membership plan is one of my projects,” Kerry explains. “I’ve identified that it’s something we’re not using to its full capacity, and so we need to. I’m driving it now, and I want to encourage the other dentists in the practice to explain the benefits to our patients and ask them to sign up too.”
Kerry’s aim is to ensure all the front of house team members have their training refreshed on how to present the benefits of plan membership to new patients. “We’ve got a fantastic front of house team,” Kerry says. “They’ve got the ability to put across the plan’s benefits without being really salesy and hard hitting. We will also refresh the knowledge of the other clinicians so that they are aware of what plan membership means and normalise it.”
Andrew admits that, in addition to the financial savings patients can make, he also sees the membership plan paying off for his patients in terms of their oral health. “The patients on the plan, tend to come to see us religiously every six months,” he says. “They see the hygienist when they’re meant to see the hygienist and when they come to see me, I always think ‘this patient’s not going to have a lot of problems’. You’re maintaining their oral health and it’s a nice feeling to know that you have a healthy patient in front of you.
“I know from a dentist’s point of view we make our money by treating patients, but it’s also nice to know that you are treating your patients well and that they’re healthy and don’t always need treatment.”
Andrew and Kerry’s aim is to grow their plan membership from the current 300 members to 1,000 over the next year. Watch this space!