The key to accelerating practice growth
Dentistry speaks to Claire McMullan about joining Denplan Plus – a new membership agreement supporting practice growth.
You’ve been a practising dentist in Northern Ireland for many years. When did you join Dental32 and how does the practice look now?
Claire McMullan (CM): Dental32 has been based in Magherafelt since 1984, offering routine dental care as well as specialist treatment. Moving to new premises in 2007, I joined the team and have been the sole owner of the practice since 2019.
Dental32 has expanded from three to five surgeries and today has five dentists and two hygienists. Specialist treatment includes dental implants, orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry and facial aesthetics.
Tell us about your considerations when joining Denplan
CM: We transferred across to Denplan from another payment plan provider nine years ago. With our other provider we had started transferring patients onto private plans, but it was very noticeable that while they may be competitive on price, as a practice we were not getting any additional support or benefits that we really needed.
I started seeing the support my dentist friends that were on Denplan were getting; every time there were changes from CQC or RQIA they had support from Denplan with manuals and guidance, which I didn’t have. I saw that Denplan offered so much more as part of their plans. Marketing support, professional support, training, events – plus knowing they had a dedicated business development consultant Joanne Hall in Northern Ireland was a huge benefit too.
She has been a huge support and invaluable in what we have achieved. From day-to-day queries to training and business planning. And the nice touch of a box of chocolates being hand delivered when we’ve hit a target is invaluable.
How has it affected your growth?
CM: Since joining Denplan in 2012 things really expanded for us. We had so much more support as a business. We’ve seen huge patient growth since. One of the biggest reasons is that we, as a whole team, really believe in the product. It’s not just me as the dentist saying a patient should join a plan, it’s part of our ethos and the message gets reiterated to patients by our receptionist team and hygienist too – and they notice that.
The demand for our hygienist went up from two to five days a week, all from Denplan patients. While the hygienist part of the plans may not be as financially favourable, as a dentist it frees up my time. It gives gaps in my books for me to focus on the bigger treatments such as implants.
For me it’s all about looking at the bigger picture and what you want to practise day to day, as well as what benefits our patients. We are certainly a more profitable practice since joining Denplan and implementing all these changes.
Why did you join Denplan Plus?
CM: We joined in February 2021 just after it launched. We were working towards a lot of the benefits within the membership scheme. It has given us a better framework and new targets – which is always good to have. It felt like the natural next step for the practice both in terms of educational support for the team, to keep patient growth, but also from a compliance and quality assurance perspective.
What are the key benefits of Denplan Plus for you?
CM: Waiving the patient joining fee is a key benefit for us. It is a conversation starter with a patient to say we are now as an additional benefit able to waive the joining fee. This means that a lot of the plans actually do work out cheaper from day one versus pay as you go. It feels like a nice offer and gives the team even more confidence starting the conversation about the Denplan payment plans. We have already hit 50% of our growth target.
It’s clearly given us new motivation to have the additional support. As well as, the added benefits of prize draws and other team incentives from our Denplan Plus membership.
On the educational side, we are looking to start the growth training programme in the coming weeks. We also have new staff members joining the team next month where the online resources will be great. It will enable them to be upskilled with minimal support from other team members that are under other work pressures. We also have Denplan Champions from our team going on training to support our growth.
The enhanced compliance support also fitted in with my plan to apply for Denplan Excel accreditation in the coming year. Denplan Plus enables this and I think the accreditation will be a great framework and something the whole team will benefit from. From training to maintaining high standards in record keeping within the Denplan Excel framework will be hugely beneficial. I’m sure our patients would get reassurance from it too, so we look forward to working towards that.