Whose plan is it, anyway?

Gary Nelson, area manager at Practice Plan, looks at the benefits of having a patient plan branded to your practice and not that of the plan provider.

Gary Nelson, area manager at Practice Plan, looks at the benefits of having a patient plan branded to your practice and not that of the plan provider.

Whether you’ve already made the move to private practice or you’re considering moving away from the NHS, you’re probably already aware of the benefits of introducing a patient membership plan into your practice.

These include having a more regular and predictable income, increased loyalty from your patients and an increased uptake in treatments plans, to name but a few.

There are a number of membership plan providers in the marketplace of various sizes and one of the key things that will divide them is their attitude to branding. Do they insist on their own branding being on the plan, or is it one that is branded to your own practice?

So, let’s look at the merits of both…

You could suggest that a reason why a plan company places its brand front and centre of your plan is that they believe their brand is stronger than the practice’s own in its local area.

However, would a patient actually insist on having a dental membership plan from that specific provider? I’d say it’s unlikely as in my experience, unless they have had a plan before, it’s not usually something they ask for.

Most frequently the subject of plan membership is something that needs to be raised by practice team members as many patients have not heard of the idea of plan membership before, whether that’s branded to the practice or the provider!

If a patient were to ask for a particular plan provider by name, it’s more than likely that they are using the brand name as a generic term for membership plans, as in the case of Biro for pens or Hoover for a vacuum cleaner.

It shows great brand awareness. But it doesn’t mean they are necessarily insisting on that particular plan provider, rather they see it as a generic term.

Offering a plan branded to another company introduces some distance between the patient and the practice. They may view the plan as being something separate from the practice, so they feel they are members of another company’s plan, not one belonging to the practice where they come for treatment.

Planning your identity

At Practice Plan we believe that a patient is motivated to join a particular membership plan because they like, and feel loyal to, the practice. This is why we help the practices we work with to brand their plans with their own identity. Patients are loyal to that practice or dentist, not a plan provider and a plan branded to you strengthens the bond the patient has to your practice.

This approach benefits practices in a number of ways. A plan is branded to the practice, allowing team members to take ownership of it and believe in the benefits and value it can offer patients. They are also more likely to promote it to patients, ultimately resulting in more patients joining the plan.

Also, having a practice-branded plan enables you to create a club-like feel. Anyone signing up can feel part of an exclusive cohort and create a greater sense of belonging.

Plans have been shown to increase loyalty amongst patients. By having the practice’s name and branding on the plan, there’s an opportunity to increase that loyalty without any ambiguity. There is no obvious third-party involvement to get in the way of your relationship with your patients.

Tailoring your market

Finally, with a practice branded plan, any marketing of it can be tailored to suit the look, feel and personality of the practice. It is truly bespoke and not a one-size-fits-all package taken from the shelf and dusted off.

Additionally, with Practice Plan, this is a lot more than just taking a well-used template and swapping one logo for another. It can be the spark to look at the practice branding as a whole and consider whether now is a good time for a refresh, as our specialist design and marketing team can support you through this type of change.

Often, for practices we work with, this it is a chance to develop something unique and reflective of the individual practice, which can be translated into a brand that provides a clear, competitive differentiation in the eyes of the patient.

So, if you’re looking for a plan provider, ask yourself: should your plan represent and portray your practice and your practice alone? Or do you want to have the branding of a third party on it?

I know which option I think is better, but when it comes down to it, the choice is yours.

About Gary

Gary Nelson is an area manager with Practice Plan, the UK’s leading provider of practice-branded patient membership plans.

He successfully ran his own business for ten years prior to joining the team at Practice Plan and has a wealth of knowledge of the dental business he passes on to the practices he works with.

If you are interested in finding out more about how Practice Plan help practices to become more profitable, sustainable businesses, why not call us on 01691 684165 or visit practiceplan.co.uk.

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