Patient count for dental practices is one of the essential markers for success if you consider how to build the metrics of your business. DSO’s must work even harder to engage patients to return — multiple practices require substantially greater amounts of foot traffic to help offset the cost of operations as well as establish a profitable business model to sustain their company. However, many dental practices view their patients as statistics on paper instead of developing a relationship as regular customers.

Empty chair time is a major economic problem for any dentist or DSO. Practitioners must constantly focus on increasing patient count in order to pay the bills. Often, that is one reason that people who visit their dentist sometimes feel more like a number with nominal affinity to that office. Dentists who understand how to treat their patients beyond their oral health, and who establish not only a great chairside manner but also an empathetic role in the life of the patient generally see more repeat business over time.

An additional way to generate loyalty with your patients is to develop a dental plan membership that provides an affordable option for them to keep coming back for their dental care. As well, this type of membership plan, administered by a reputable, experienced and licensed discount medical plan operator, reduces the churn of patients that often comes from not providing a financial reason for patients to return.

The market is sizeable, including existing patients that dental practices already treat. According to the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP), one in four Americans have no dental insurance. On average, that means that fully 25% of your current patients could take advantage of participating in a dental membership plan in your practice. Not only that, but the competition against insurance is negligible.

Learn how to flip the switch in your mind, your team, and ultimately your patients to feeling like committed members of your Dental Home family. Patients who feel at ease in your practice tend to be repeat customers on a more frequent basis. They know they can rely on their membership plan to help save them money, and they can trust that the dental practice has their best interest at heart not only from a monetary perspective but also from an affinity point of view. They are part of your membership. They experience a sense of belonging.

People love discounts on their purchases. The same is true of a dental membership plan. Your patients who participate on this type of program are often encouraged by them. Additionally, they value their dental treatment by a practice that treats them as part of the family and who wants to keep their oral health in check.

Patients who understand their savings helps create trust and loyalty and encourages them to feel like their investment in their health with your practice is their best option. Patients feel that they now belong to a membership. The concept is similar to many businesses offering club status to customers who participate in their special loyalty card or benefit program.

When plan members feel appreciated, they often provide the dental practice with referrals. People like to talk about good experiences. When their friends comment about how beautiful their smile is, the patient talks about how great their dentist is and how much money they saved. They talk about how comfortable they feel when they go to the dentist, and how special they are treated by the staff.

It’s critical that every staff member of the dental practice or DSO needs to buy into the mindset that patients drive the bus, not the other way around. When patients want to come back, it’s a win-win for everyone. Giving the opportunity for uninsured patients to belong to a “club” that provides dental care at an affordable rate helps them financially and cultivates a connection that builds loyalty and increases referrals.

Dental Service Organizations can benefit greatly from sponsoring dental membership plans to their patients. Don’t churn and burn the customers simply because you can. As they continue to be repeat customers, patients are the key to lifting up the entire organization by being faithful. It only takes one bad review on social media to put a black eye on the group. When your patients don’t feel valued, you’ll hear about it. Treat them like family, and they’ll stay with you as long as they need dental care – that is a very long time.

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