Amy Hansford talks to Gemma Smith from Bembridge Dental about gaining more support and building dental practice branding by switching plan provider.
When you take ownership of an established dental practice, inevitably you inherit existing business relationships and suppliers.
However, often, these arrangements may not be what you would have chosen. Or they may not support your unique vision and goals for the practice. So much in business comes down to good relationships and simply ‘getting on’ with the people you’re working with. Whether it’s within your practice team, or your external providers and consultants.
In 2016, Piotr and Vanessa Pirga became the owners of Bembridge Dental on the Isle of Wight. The practice already had a membership plan in place. But, by the end of 2018, they decided to change to a new plan provider, Practice Plan – a move completed six months later.
Amy Hansford, regional support manager at Practice Plan, spoke to Gemma Smith, business administrator from the practice, to find out more about what led them to make the change and how it went.
Why did you want to change the plan provider in the practice?
Gemma Smith (GS): We felt there was a lack of support from our incumbent provider. We didn’t really see our local representative much or hear from them in general.
It felt as if, should we want to make changes and provide a different offering to our patients, it would be hard to put into action.
Secondly, we wanted to have plans branded to us rather than to our provider, which had been the case. As a long-established, small, family-run practice we wanted to build up more of a personal, local identity that fits with the type of practice we are, rather than a national brand.
We wanted to create more of an affinity between us and our patients, by building stronger connections with them. On a practical level, it also gave us a chance to ensure consistency across our dental practice branding and marketing. Practice Plan helped with this by providing posters and leaflets, etc.
Thirdly, we knew that by moving provider to Practice Plan it would be more cost-efficient for us and our patients. That’s a definite plus point for all involved.
How have things changed since you moved provider?
GS: We noticed the difference in support straight away. Right from day one, it was much more hands-on. We could make changes and put new things into place straightaway.
It felt as if the focus was very much on giving us more control over our business and helping us to provide a better service for our patients. We can offer different types of plans. This gives us some flexibility for the future and means we can tailor our offer to patients’ different needs.
Although, at the moment, rather than introduce too many changes at once, we chose to stay with plans that were basically like for like with our old provider, although with some extra benefits, such as treatment discount. But we’re definitely excited about the opportunity to offer different plans in the future.
We’ve also already been to some events that have been great for practical advice and team bonding. We’ve attended one about motivation and performing to your best and one about social media marketing. Plus, we receive individual training from you, Amy. You come into the practice and work with our dentists and our administrative team. And we know you’re always there if we need support ad hoc.
And how did you find the process of changing provider?
GS: In total, the whole process took us around six months and during that time we moved almost all our patients over onto our new plan, and we have had new patients sign up as well. We sent out letters, but also went through it with patients face to face when they came into the practice.
Our approach was to explain to patients the extra benefits they are getting, such as discount on treatments, and the fact it was lower cost was a real selling point. Patients have been really receptive to the new dental practice branding as well.
It has gone really well. Now we’re really motivated to take it further, and recruit more and build on the success so far.
Practice Plan has supported more than 1,500 dental practices to transform the profitability of their business through the combination of a well-populated plan and personalised support, including marketing, dental practice branding. business advice, events and training. If you’re looking for more from your provider, call 01691 684165 or visit change.practiceplan.co.uk.