Zoe Close talks to Sean Maguire about growing a membership plan.
ZC: Your membership numbers have grown significantly over the last few years. Why do you think that is?
SM: A lot of it has simply been down to the hard work and effort we have put in to positively communicating the plan to prospective patients. We take time to sit down with them and explain all the benefits that come with being on a plan.
Also, I’d be lying if I said that covid hasn’t had an impact with so many more patients looking for a dentist. The focus we put on our marketing, in particular our Google ranking and our Google patient reviews, has meant we have been well-placed when patients are searching for a new dentist.
ZC: A lot of practices fared well through the pandemic because they had a plan in place. Was having a plan in practice comforting for you?
SM: Yes, it was. Still having that secure income during the months we had to shut really helped take away some of the stress and pressure that came with the pandemic.
We had developed a rapport with the patients that joined us on a plan, and I think that really helped during the pandemic. Because they were happy with their treatment and had built up loyalty to the practice, they wanted to stay with us and support us through those tough months.
ZC: When you talk to a prospective patient about a membership plan, how do you explain the benefits to them?
SM: What we see with our existing plan patients is that they are more likely to take care of their dental health because they are paying for a service, and so want to get full value for their money; we explain this to prospective patients that enquire with us.
Also, we tell them about our online booking system and how we are flexible when it comes to opening hours, holding extra surgeries on Saturday mornings and Monday evenings. We also explain how we offer a vast range of treatments because of the variety of specialisms within our team.
I do a lot more surgery, whereas Gareth does more cosmetic dentistry, and our associate, Claire, does Invisalign treatments. We find that having that range appeals to prospective patients.
ZC: How important do you believe membership plans are to the growth of a practice, and what are your ambitions moving forward?
SM: For us, having a plan has been so important; it has allowed us to spend more time with patients and provide them with a high-quality service at affordable prices. We are glad that we chose Practice Plan to be our private plan provider. It has really helped our business to grow, and we have big ambitions to keep that going. We want to hit 1,000 patients on plan by the end of the year, which sounds crazy, however, we feel it is possible.
We are now at a point where we have taken a lease out on the building next door and we are adding more surgeries to the practice. That has all been made possible because of the success we have had since taking on private patients and offering a membership pla