Starting a new private clinic from scratch is never an easy undertaking and the days of opening the doors to a queue of ready patients have long gone. Our location, which is slightly off the beaten track, also meant we needed to have a strong marketing strategy in place to make ourselves known to the wider community. Rather than being on the high street, we are actually based on a business park close to the two small Hampshire villages of Four Marks and Medstead.
I have been clinical manager at Shine Dental Clinic, owned by principal dentist Dina Parmar, since it opened as a squat in early 2012, and having worked in dentistry for many years I have witnessed the increasingly competitive nature of the market. I also know how important customer service and value for money is for patients, who have become increasingly discerning, and although disposable income is on the rise, patients are far more selective about where they choose to spend their money. Our aim from the outset was to build ourselves a reputation as an essential part of the local community and to support other local businesses in any way we could.
A cost-effective dental plan
Being a private clinic we wanted to offer our patients a cost-effective dental plan, which was tailored around our own specific requirements. Having had particularly poor service from the plan provider at my previous practice I was keen to thoroughly research the dental plan market to find something better. My criteria included finding a reliable organisation with a friendly and helpful team, a bespoke dental plan service, marketing support and the capability of delivering in-practice training. DPAS Dental Plans fitted the bill perfectly and with its comprehensive support our ‘Smile Plan’ was born.
The idea of our Smile Plan is to allow patients to budget for their dental care and make treatment better value for our plan patients. The plan offers two annual check-ups and two hygienist appointments annually, plus a supplementary insurance policy and a 10% discount on all other treatments that may be needed. What we really like about our plan is that it is specifically designed for our practice and our patients. All our patient literature is practice-branded and our patients like the fact that it has been created by us, exclusively for them.
By working closely with DPAS we are now launching two additional dental plans catering for the needs of both children and students, so we have the whole family’s needs covered. We would like to get children and teenagers engaged with their dental care as early as possible, so there is a better chance of them maintaining good oral health from a young age and returning as patients into adulthood.
From a business point of view it is also beneficial to have patients on plan. Patients who pay for their treatment monthly are far more inclined to return for regular check-ups, and when key members of our clinical staff are on holiday for example, we can still rely on a regular income, even if one of the team is not treating patients.
Growing patient numbers
In the three years since we opened we have generated over 1,600 registered patients, with around 22% of them on plan. Our aim by the end of this year is to increase this to 50% and I firmly believe that with DPAS’ help we can achieve this.
We hold regular open evenings at the clinic around different topics and special promotions, and our practice consultant Michaela is always happy to attend and lend a hand. We care passionately about educating families about their oral health and are actively involved with oral health promotion in local schools, scout and toddler groups. When new staff members join us, Michaela is available to conduct individual training covering all aspects of our dental plans.
Dina and I recently had the pleasure of visiting DPAS’ offices in Tisbury to meet the wider team face-to-face and take a peek behind the scenes. As soon as we walked into the building it felt like we were getting a great big hug from them. It’s a very warm, inviting, and friendly environment and I believe that this is what sets DPAS apart. I have worked in dentistry for a long time and have never encountered a company that is so helpful.
I can’t sing the praises of everyone at DPAS enough. They are an extension of our team and make my life as a clinical manager so much easier. In this day and age it’s very refreshing to find that this level of outstanding customer service still exists.
For more information please visit www.dpas.co.uk.