For any small business, establishing a predictable financial foothold as swiftly as possible is essential, as this helps to quickly build confidence in one’s business plan. But finance is just one cog in a very big wheel that helps to drive a dental practice forward, and as Catherine found out, help and support from third parties can also be highly beneficial, not just in the early days but as a business develops and matures.
From the beginning
‘We are a four-surgery practice in Malton, North Yorkshire, offering private dentistry to adults and NHS services to children,’ Catherine said.
‘From the outset, a dental plan was always part of my business strategy as I appreciated the benefit of having a predictable and secure revenue stream and saw how important this would be in the short term whilst the business was establishing itself.
‘DPAS was personally recommended to me, so I knew their customer service and practice support was good and I signed up without hesitation.
‘Seven years on, the vast majority of my patients are now enrolled on one of our plans.
‘I have always been a great believer in the value that plans add to a practice from a business perspective, but I also genuinely find patients on plans have better oral health. I suppose patients who sign up for plans naturally place a higher priority on preventive care, but budgeting also results in them attending for check-ups and hygiene appointments more regularly, as well as giving them a discount on any further treatment they need.
‘For the practice, our dental plan means we have fewer gaps in our appointment book and greater predictability, making us highly efficient, as well as creating business security. Our hygienist’s diary is practically full every day, leaving me to take care of restorative and other treatments. I believe this system provides the most efficient model for a modern dental practice, as it utilises all clinical skills effectively and ensures a steady throughput of patients.’
‘Our Dental Health Plan is based on the patient’s hygiene needs,’ Catherine continued.
‘This is different for every individual and isn’t a case of one-size-fits-all, so that’s where DPAS’ flexibility has come into its own.
‘Our plan has been continually tailored over the years so if we’ve found that something isn’t working we’ve tweaked it. DPAS has always been happy to support us with such changes, but at the same time they’ve been able use their wealth of experience to advise us if they felt our decisions needed to be reconsidered. DPAS has become an extension of our team and together we have devised solutions that have benefited everyone. I believe this ‘partnership’ has created a dental plan that perfectly matches the needs of our patients and this has had a significant impact on plan take-up.
‘DPAS has also helped with marketing the plan; creating posters, plan literature and brochures, as well as bringing ideas to the table that help us promote the practice.
‘Earlier this year we decided to make changes to the level of benefits our plans included and when we launched the changes, DPAS helped us create the communication to inform patients.
‘We’ve had a great deal of support from our practice consultant, Deborah in particular, who visits the practice once a month to assist with any questions or queries. She has also run staff training sessions on topics such as telephone skills and helped with practice open days.
‘Our personally assigned contact in the main DPAS office also means we are always able to speak with someone who understands our practice when we call, rather than us just being another number! I find the whole company very approachable and they really make an effort to provide the personal touch.’
Building a brand
‘One of the key factors for us over the past seven years has been building and developing our identity, and working with DPAS has enabled our own brand to remain at the forefront, which I believe has really helped to promote patient loyalty,’ Catherine said.
‘In previous roles I have worked with corporate branded plans, but I felt they sometimes overshadowed a practice’s own identity and didn’t help build affinity between the patients and the practice.
‘For me, in the same way our patients feel loyal to us, I feel loyal to DPAS. They have made us feel valued every step of the way and are always there to help.
‘If I had to sum up DPAS in three phrases, it would be personal care, attention to detail and tailor-made dental plans.’
For more information please visit www.dpas.co.uk.