Tracy Webb, from DPAS, speaks to Karen Burnell, Practice Manager at Cotteswold House Dental Care, about their approach to attracting new patients…
Cotteswold House Dental Care has been established for 41 years and continues to attract new patients, welcoming around 400 in the past year. I spoke to their Practice Manager, Karen Burnell, to find out more about their team’s approach to the patient journey and promoting their payment plan, which have both contributed to the practice’s growth.
Tracy Webb (TW): The practice’s continual growth is impressive; can you identify anything in particular that has supported this?
Karen Burnell (KB): Around three years ago we began taking a much more proactive approach to promoting our dental payment plan. We had been quite lackadaisical about it in the past, but with a change in ownership and some extra coaching, we really started to focus on telling patients about it.
With this renewed focus and help from yourself, we introduced a new plan more tailored to the patient. The benefits of all this reinvigoration has been massive; it’s helped us pick up new patients and when they join the plan they feel a part of the practice, so attend more regularly. It’s helped us attract and retain patients as well as generates a steady income for the practice.
We also find it easy to promote the plan, because we all believe in it; we know if we were patients we would be on it too, so that’s why I think our figures are soaring at the moment.
TW: As well as an increase in patient numbers, have you seen any increase in treatment uptake?
KB: Yes, we have, and I think that is related to two things – one of which is the payment plan, and one is due to introducing a treatment coordinator role.
With the plan, we offer 10% discount on treatments, which is a big incentive for patients to not only join, but also to take up treatment. One of our dental nurses has taken on the additional role of treatment coordinator, and that has had a big impact as she is with the patient every step of the journey, she explains the treatment plan to them, and they feel able to ask any questions they might have. Having that focused support has helped patients feel special, and also more comfortable with their journey in practice.
TW: That’s great, and how do you keep the team focused on growing patient numbers?
KB: We bring it up at every practice meeting, and we go through the numbers. I make sure that I thank everybody in the team for how they have contributed, particularly liking and sharing our social media posts to help build our online presence. We often run treatment offers on Facebook, such as half-price exams for new patients, and that is quite effective.
TW: It sounds like a whole-team approach, do you also have regular training for everyone?
KB: Absolutely, we’ve had quite a lot of coaching on the best way to answer the phone to encourage patients to join the practice. For example, rather than just stating what we do and what we offer, we focus on asking questions from the caller to find out more about them, what they are looking for from a dental practice and begin building that relationship from the beginning.
The regular contact we get from you, Tracy, is great as it allows the whole team to refresh on the benefits of the plan and how to promote it, measure our progress against our targets, and the incentive schemes you have for increasing plan uptake really give our front desk team a boost.
TW: It sounds like things are going very well, what are your plans for the future?
KB: We’re just planning to keep growing and keep doing what we’re doing. We’re also thinking of expanding the building and bringing in other services such as implants and an endodontist.
TW: That sounds great, all the best with it – and I’ll see you soon.