How to take a financially painless holiday

MoneyLes Jones reveals what you can do to generate income when you’re not working.

If you are the owner of a small dental practice, taking time off to go on holiday can be a painful financial double whammy. Not only do you have the cost of the holiday to contend with, but you also have to face up to the fact that, potentially, you won’t be earning any income during the time you’re away. Ouch!

This is a perennial problem for practioner-based businesses such as dental practices where income generation is, for the large part, dependent on chargeable time spent with the patient. Of course, you could always take your patients on holiday with you, but that would be a little impractical and ultimately self-defeating.

The problem with a service-based industry such as dentistry is that you can’t sell your services while you’re asleep or when you take time off, unlike a product-led, commodity business where orders can come in at any time of the month or year.

So, what could you do to generate income…even when you’re not working?

A reliable income

Introducing a patient membership plan into your practice is one potential answer. A membership plan provides your patients with the ability to spread the cost of their maintenance dental treatment across the year through monthly Direct Debit payments. This means that you can flatten out the financial peaks and troughs in your practice and create a consistent and reliable income, even when you’re away or the practice is closed.

Dealing with a ‘self-imposed’ dip in income can be particularly problematic for smaller, one- and two-chair practices where there is not the level of staff resource to cover for the times when the principal is away or perhaps over Christmas and the New Year.

A poor month in terms of income generation can result in cash-flow problems further down the line, leading to increased pressure, stress and worry (meaning you need another holiday). It’s a well-known fact that most businesses that go under don’t do so because of a lack of work but from a lack of cash flow to keep their businesses operating.

All of this can be mitigated by the introduction of a membership plan. The plan provides a clear win/win for patients and practices alike. Patients benefit from the ability to spread the cost of their treatment and also from additional incentives such as worldwide insurance cover, in case of a dental trauma, and discounts on additional treatments. Practices benefit not only from a predictable income, but also from increased patient loyalty, a reduction in non-attendees and an increase in
treatment uptake.

Of course, it could be argued that the plan merely spreads the pain of those non-earning weeks across the year, making some kind of loan facility for the dentist. However, this is a misconception. Calculating your monthly membership fees should take into account the owner’s full salary (including paid holidays) as well as other factors such as covering the practice overhead costs, clinical hours, length of procedures and future investments.

A simple process

Introducing a plan into your practice is a simple process and, because there are multiple benefits for your patients there’s no hard sell involved. It’s simply a matter of getting your team on board with the principle, training them to clearly communicate the benefits to your patients and introducing a simple process to sign those patients up to the plan.

A patient membership plan provider, such as Practice Plan, will have experts on hand to help you assess the viability of a plan for your practice and, if it’s right for you, proven processes and systems in place to get your plan and team up and running quickly and effectively.

A regular and predictable income is the holy grail for any business and that’s no different for dental practices. A patient membership plan is a simple and effective way of helping you to achieve that goal. So, if you’d like to relax worry-free on your sun lounger during your next holiday, start thinking about introducing and building a plan in your practice. And if you’d like a free consultation to explore your options, the team at Practice Plan are here to help you explore your options.

You can contact Practice Plan on 01691 684120 or visit the website at

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