In the second of two blog posts covering recruiting more patients onto your plan, Former Technical Director at Practice Plan, Graham Penfold, looks at using incentives, marketing and training.
To incentivise your staff towards recruiting more patients onto plans, you might want to consider putting a nominal sum, say £10 for each patient recruited, into a kitty to be shared out amongst the staff. If you are uncomfortable with such a transparent financial incentive, an evening or half-day out with a meal can be an alternative. By and large, people enjoy being recognised and being rewarded and an appropriate thank you often helps the cause.
On the question of incentives, you might decide to say to your existing patients that if they either join one of the practice membership plans, or introduce a new patient that does, then there is a reward for them. It could be a gift voucher for a nominal sum or two months plan membership free but it is a low-cost source of effective internal marketing.
Marketing support needs to supplement the campaign but this need not be expensive as posters, leaflets, referral cards and letters can be the main tools along with e-zines and a message on the practice website. What is of vital importance is that the real benefits of plan membership are highlighted and repeated both in the physical marketing material and the messages communicated by the practice team. So these need to be detailed and might include:
- Quality dental care is made affordable through monthly budgeting and gives the patient peace of mind
- Guaranteed registration with the dentist of the patient’s choice
- Regular attendance personalised to the patient, involving consultations, hygiene visits and x-rays designed into the structure of the plan thus minimising the risk of large, unexpected treatment needs
- Discounts on treatments provided at the practice, again helping affordability
- Comprehensive accident and emergency cover included in the monthly payment
Also, you may well wish to consider having a few different plan structures so that patients with healthy mouths as well as more periodontally compromised patients can all be accommodated. This will assist you when making a personalised recommendation to each patient as to which plan they should join.
Finally, there is the important subject of staff training so that everyone understands what is trying to be achieved and why, and their role in the process. Individual concerns need to be addressed in a positive way so that everyone feels confident about the project. Once launched, you will need to monitor progress against your target. It is probably best to have a short meeting at the end of day one to discuss what is working and is not, and make any refinements needed. This can be repeated at the end of week one and then on a monthly basis to ensure the objective is tracked and ultimately achieved.
Yes, there is extra work involved, but if carefully planned then it will soon become part of the normal practice routine and the end result is certainly well worth the effort.