Gary Anders, managing director at DPAS Dental Plans, talks branding and argues the case for practice-branded patient plans.
Regular and reliable income, a higher uptake in treatment plans and increased loyalty from your patients are just a few of the benefits of introducing a patient membership plan into your practice…we could go on and on listing the advantages.
However, when you consider introducing a plan into your practice, one of the big decisions you may choose to think about is whether you want to work with a plan provider that believes your brand should be at the forefront of your dental plan, or a provider that endorses its own name and brand.
Other membership providers’ approach is to promote a plan under their own brand, not the practice’s, therefore declaring that they are ‘the only plan that patients ask for by name’. This gives the impression that they see their brand as being stronger than the practice’s.
However, how many patients actually ask for a dental plan by name? From our experience, a dental plan is something that needs to be brought up in conversation by the practice team; very rarely does a patient ask to be signed onto a plan. It’s only when it is introduced to them that they begin to understand what a plan is and the benefits that come with joining.
Another interesting question is, out of the handful of patients that ask for a certain brand of plan, are they only asking for this brand as they think it is an abbreviated name, or has it become a common term for a dental plan? This scenario can be compared to a vacuum cleaner – most people are guilty of asking for a Hoover (brand name) when they actually mean a vacuum cleaner.
Loyalty and relationship
However you look at it, branding your dental plan by a third party adds another name into the mix and patients may view this as an unnecessary layer of complexity. First and foremost, it also means that the patient is not joining your practice, in effect they are becoming a member of the plan provider.
At DPAS, we believe that a patient is inclined to join a membership plan because they like the dental practice. Their loyalty and relationship is not to with a third party but to the practice. Therefore, our approach is one that promotes the plan under the practice’s own brand. That’s why all DPAS administered membership plans are rolled out under the practice’s individual branding.
There are various potential benefits to taking the own branding approach. Firstly, patients that are a member of a practice-branded plan are likely to have a stronger bond with that practice and, because of this, are more loyal to the practice. It is clearer that the relationship is between the patient and the practice without any outside impact from a third party. There is a bigger feeling of belonging to an independent, personal practice as against a larger, national brand.
Secondly, the practice team are likely to be more enthusiastic about the plan as they will see it as their own. They’ll have a deeper-rooted belief in its value and benefit to the patient, which will come across when promoting it. Having the whole team on board will help sign more patients up to the plan.
Finally, not one practice is the same; each one is different to the next. So surely it is better suited to the practice if the positioning and promotion of the plan is specifically tailored to the practice’s branding, language and personality? Having a bespoke look and feel to the plan will provide an opportunity to build something that has competitive differentiation from other practices, rather than opting for a generic approach to the design of your plan where your logo is wiped out and simply replaced with another.
Personal and individual
So, when choosing which plan provider to work with, the key questions you need to answer are…do you want your plan to be personal and individual to your practice, or have a third-party, generic brand? Do you want your plan to be the same as other practices or be unique and different? From where we stand, the advantages of one over the other are obvious, but of course, the decision is yours.
To find out more about how DPAS Dental Plans can help you grow a practice-branded dental plan, call 01747 870910 or visit www.dpas.co.uk.