The benefits of introducing a patient membership plan into your practice are well documented – more regular and predictable income, increased loyalty from your patients and an increased uptake in treatment plans, are just a few, but there are many more.
One of the key considerations when introducing a plan is whether you want to work with a plan provider that believes in branding your plan to your practice or whether it is promoting its own name and brand.
The two leading membership plan providers take opposing stances on this question. One provider brings their brand to the fore, not the practice’s. This suggests that they believe their brand is stronger than the practice’s own in its local area.
Joining your practice
The question is, how many patients actually ask for that plan provider by name? This is an interesting question, as, in our experience, most patients tend not to ask for a plan at all. It is something that needs to be introduced to them by the practice team, as only then do they understand the benefits a plan can provide.
If you were to delve into this question further, there is another argument to say that the few patients that do ask for a specific brand of plan do so because the name has become a generic term for a dental plan – in the same way that people sometimes ask for a Hoover (brand name) when they mean a vacuum cleaner.
Either way, the branding of your dental plan by a third party adds another company name into the equation and a layer of complexity in the eyes of the patient that is not necessary. It also means that first and foremost, the patient is, in effect, joining the plan provider, not becoming a member of your practice.
On the other hand, Practice Plan’s approach is based on the premise that a patient is motivated to join a particular membership plan because they like the practice. As such, their loyalty is to that practice, not a third party. Therefore, we believe that a membership plan should clearly be presented and promoted under the practice’s own brand to further bond the patient to the practice.
This is why you will find that all membership plans administered by Practice Plan are individually promoted under the practice’s own branding.
Your practice’s personality
There are a number of potential benefits to this approach. Firstly, the practice team are more likely to take ownership of the plan as their own and promote it with more enthusiasm and a deeper belief in its value to the patient, which could help to sign more patients up to the plan.
Secondly, patients who join a practice-branded plan are part of a greater sense of belonging to an exclusive, independent club as opposed to a wider, national brand. The relationship is clearly between the patient and the practice without any outside influence from a third party and, as a result, the patients are likely to have a stronger affinity to the practice.
Finally, the positioning and promotion of the plan can be specifically tailored not only to a particular practice’s branding, but also to its personality and language. The look and feel is bespoke from the start, rather than an off-the-shelf, generic approach to design where one practice’s logo is stripped out and another placed in. There is an opportunity to develop something that is totally unique and reflective of the individuality of the practice, which translates into a clear, competitive differentiation in the eyes of the patient.
So the key question when choosing a plan provider is…do you want your plan to appear unique and personal to your practice or generically branded to a third party? From our perspective, the advantages of one over the other are clear; the choice, of course, is yours.
You can reach Practice Plan on 01691 684165 or visit www.practiceplan.co.uk/dental-plans.