Read time: 7 Minutes
Dental practices are really starting to embrace the benefits of letting patients spread the cost of treatment with instalments. Consider for a moment how finance can help you frame the perceived cost of treatment. “Implants from £50 a month” sounds far more appealing than “from £2,500”. The difference to your treatment conversion rates could be significant.
Increased treatment uptake is a persuasive reason to offer finance. According to a recent survey performed by Hitachi Capital, 54% of patients who had arranged finance said they would not have proceeded without finance.
Offering finance doesn’t just benefit your practice by improving cash-flow, it increases profitability. According to the same survey, 45% of patients said they increased their spend because finance enabled them to arrange the treatment they really wanted. A win-win for you and your patients.
Practices face three major challenges around treatment conversions:
- The amount of time dedicated to consultations that do not proceed to treatment
- The number of patients who leave ‘to think about it’, without the practice establishing specific patient concerns
- An empty surgery without any bookings
Offering finance reduces the scale of the first two challenges, and that helps with the third. And this, is where DenGro comes in.
DenGro makes it easy for your staff to track and nurture potential patients every step of the way to treatment start. Smart tasks can be set up to prompt front-of-house staff to promote finance options at touch points in the nurturing process.
Plan your in-practice process
If you’ve decided your practice will offer patient finance, the next step is to consider how you’ll roll it out. Determining the process up-front avoids confusion among staff and gives your patients a consistent experience.
In practices without a treatment coordinator, all dentists and staff need to be ‘on board’ with patient finance. This shouldn’t be a ‘hard sell’, staff should simply explain finance options and the monthly treatment cost as clearly as possible.
Five great tips to increase your caseload
- Introduce finance options early. Try to bring finance options into the conversation as soon as patients hesitate during a consultation. You might be surprised by the effectiveness of simply stating “If you are interested, we have options where you can spread the cost…”
- Establish a watermark. Set up a system to provide finance figures whenever treatment totals exceeding a set figure to be seen and provided with the figures – any finance provider will supply a calculator to assist in the quick calculation of the monthly instalments
- Track treatment plans where you’ve included finance options. Note cases where a treatment plan and finance figure has been provided and follow-up. Again, not a hard-sell: “We just wondered whether you are still giving consideration to this treatment or have any questions.”
- Ensure a staff member is available. Someone should be on hand to assist patients with application if they want to go ahead immediately. Don’t miss the opportunity!
- Put a follow-up system in place. Email patients with the figures where it was not possible to speak to them before they left the practice.
Picking the right finance provider
When practices contact Dental Finance, they typically open by asking about our rates. It’s not an unreasonable question. However, it’s worth noting that most finance providers are pretty close on rates – they have to be to be competitive.
Beware the exceptions. Within the finance sector, lower rates generally equate to lower acceptances. Lenders offering lower than typical rates are likely cherry picking the best cases.
Here are some other important considerations to enquire about when you call:
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Authorisation. Without FCA Authorisation, a practice is limited to offering short-term interest-free finance to be fully repaid within 12 months – not ideal if you offer a full range of treatment options. The cost of authorisation is a £100 application fee and annual renewal fees start from c £160 pa. Providers offer different levels of support, so it’s important to know whether they offer assistance with the FCA application, give you guidance notes or refer your practice to an independent consultant. The same applies to the FCA annual returns – some providers give hands on assistance, others don’t.
Processing Options. The most popular option is for the patient to complete an online application and then e-sign the agreement. That doesn’t suit all practices or patients. Some patients may not feel comfortable applying online and the absence of a range of options can result in you losing their business. It is worth understanding what financing options are available as some finance providers only offer the online/e-signature option.
Training and Support. Does the finance provider offer in-practice training and on-going support? Some providers only provide support online, but Dental Finance visits each practice in person to make sure you and your staff feel comfortable with the entire finance process.
Acceptance Levels. Many lenders will claim to have a high level of acceptances – but what is the reality and over what period have they been providing finance? Have they been in the dental market for years or months and can they provide reports showing their achievements? This is one of the key factors, so make sure you don’t overlook it.
- Ask providers the right questions
- Use DenGro to embed finance offers in your process
- Sell the benefits of finance to your patients
Finance can make a real difference to the performance of any practice, but you have to embrace it. Don’t just offer it to those who ask – offer it as part of your standard process.