Dentist Or Banker?

July 31, 2009 by  Filed under: Management 

Have you noticed in your business that there is a squeeze on practice profitability?

Does it feel like there are less revenue remaining after all your expenses have been paid? Do you ever find yourself asking, “Where’s the beef” after all your hard work and continuous effort? Your production is up from the year before and unfortunately so is your Accounts Receivable. Do you ever feel stuck and wonder if you are making progress? There is a solution.

This was the situation with a very talented and progressive orthodontist who practices in northwest Ohio. Where in the dental practice act does it mandate the dentist be a banker? The answer: nowhere. For ten years this orthodontist not only delivered the dentistry, he was also financing this care for as many as 12 to 24 months. He monitored his practice numbers and decided that he was getting out of the banking business and emphasize the delivery of his dental care.

Once Dr. Jubilant established “what” he wanted to do, he began working with his personal business coach to lay out the plan on “how” to do what he wanted. Together they developed a patient financing approach that reduced his stress, enabled his office to run more efficiently, minimized any disruption to his cash flow and was implemented quickly.

He implemented a business strategy that opened another approach to patient financing that enabled him to make available several positive outcomes:

1. More quality dentistry/orthodontics could now be offered to his patients who in the past would have declined treatment;
2. He experienced higher case acceptance;
3. He increased his cash flow by over 200% within 2 months;
4. His administrative team was able to devote more time to offering “concierge” treatment to his patients; 5. Far less time was spent “tracking down” delinquent accounts or late paying patients;
6. There were far fewer patient misunderstandings around the issue of fee;
7. Team morale has moved to an all-time high and the team has earned more incentive income;
8. He has experienced fewer broken and cancelled appointments. Our Dr. Jubilant has implemented an in-office financial program that is a win-win for his practice as well as his patients.

His proactive payment policy is simple in design and yet he committed a great deal of team development time to understanding the concept of “no banker” dentistry as well as role playing financial options and patient communications. The payment options offered are as follows:

Option A: Payment in Full with a bookkeeping credit of 5%.
Option B: A 5% bookkeeping credit when full balance is paid using MasterCard or Visa.
Option C: Office payment plan through third-party financing. No interest payment for patient from 3 to 12 months.
Option D: A third-party financing plan that permits extending payment up to 60 months. This is a private company that offers long-term financing with lower than normal interest rates for the orthodontic patient.

Dr. Jubilant believed that the success of this new approach was a team effort. It was apparent to him that he would not be able to implement this program overnight and without thorough preparation. He knew this needed to be handled professionally and the way he wanted it delivered to his patients was critical. He detailed his plan to all his employees with an explanation of the outcome he envisioned. He started with the end in mind. In addition he had his individual team members practice role-playing with a coach, someone who was objective and would behave and ask questions like a patient. This training served them well as they took their case presentation time down from over twenty minutes to ten minutes or less and with less stress and more satisfaction.

In retrospect, Dr. Jubilant has been very pleased he is out of the banking business. His practice is expanding, patients are receiving the care they deserve and the financial barriers have been eliminated and his team is happier. Dr. Jubilant is confident that this patient financial plan, with comfortable and variable payment options, can be implemented in any dental office, be it general dentists or specialists.

1. Do you want to deliver quality dentistry AND be a banker? Only you can decide what is appropriate for you.
2. Do you want to extend financing to patients who would not be extended credit from several financing companies? Only you can answer that question.
3. Do you want to continue every month incur the cost of billing patients and making telephone collection calls? Only you can decide for your practice.

Take the next step: Analyze and decide for yourself if your patient financing program is a win for both the patient and your practice.

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