Successfully Raise Your Fees in 2019 with These Tips
After doing your research, it’s become clear you need to raise your fees. It’s been years since you last increased rates, and you’re not charging nearly as much as the other dentists in your community. Even so, you’re hesitant to implement price increases. What if you lose patients? Your practice is already struggling and giving patients a reason to leave certainly won’t help you get back on track.
Here’s something that should make you feel better about raising your fees: patients expect it, and often welcome it if it means they’ll receive better services that lead to an improved experience. Think about it. If you can’t remember the last time you raised your fees, you probably also can’t remember the last time you were able to invest in new technology or send team members to training to sharpen their skills. And it’s probably been awhile since you’ve made any practice updates or learned a new skill yourself.
If you’re not able to make improvements in your practice, you’re actually compromising on the quality of care patients receive – and that doesn’t exactly foster loyalty. Adjusting your fees $4-5 per procedure won’t break your patients, but it will significantly boost your bottom line and your ability to provide top-notch care.
With 2019 just around the corner, now is the time to start planning for successful fee increases that will help your practice thrive. Follow these tips to make it happen in your practice:
Establish a solid fee for every service you provide. Before you can set or change your fees, you need to know exactly how much it costs to perform the dentistry. From there, base fees on your patient base, overhead, expenses, debt and your level of professional expertise.
Know your overhead expenses. To run a successful, profitable practice, overhead costs must be in-line with industry benchmarks. If they’re not, you’ll soon start to feel like you’re drowning in overhead. Here are the benchmarks you need to know:
Exceeding these benchmarks will put your practice in a world of financial hurt. If your numbers are higher than they should be, you’re likely dealing with broken systems. Start thinking about how to fix those systems so you can take your practice from struggling to thriving.
Build a rapport with patients. Most patients want to feel a connection to their dental practice. They want to know you and your team members care about their well-being, and that they’re not just a number. When they feel this way, they’ll be much more likely to stay loyal – even when you raise your fees.
So how can you build these connections? Instead of just focusing on the dentistry, talk with patients while they’re in the chair. Ask about their families and their jobs. Educate them about their condition and how you can help them reach their oral health goals. They’ll be happy to call your practice their dental home and won’t think twice when you raise your fees.
Make fee increases part of the plan. That means establishing a solid fee for every service you provide, and then committing to adjusting those fees twice a year (2% the first time then 3% the second time, for a 5% total increase each year). It might not seem like much, but it won’t take long for you to see a huge difference in your bottom line.
Think about your goals. Before setting or adjusting fees, you should know what kind of lifestyle you want to live and how much money you need to bring in to get there. Determine how many weeks you want to work each year, how many hours per week and how many patients you want to see each day. You’ll then be able to set fees that will help you meet your goals.
Steer clear of the fee ceiling trap. You’re probably wondering what that means. It’s simple: Don’t attempt to establish your office fee schedule based on what some third-party payer reimburses at 65% of the 85th percentile. Instead, base fees on practice data and the goals you’ve set.
I know the thought of raising fees likely makes you uncomfortable, but it’s just part of owning a dental practice. Keeping your fees the same year after year will only hold your practice back, making it difficult to invest in the products, technologies and training that allow you to offer top-notch care. Following these tips will help ensure you’re charging the right amount for the services you provide, helping you grow your practice in 2019 and beyond.
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
The Hygienists in Your Practice
Does your hygiene team take pride in your office, and call it their practice? If so, this is priceless. Sadly, many hygienists do not see it as their responsibility to help build and retain the patient base in the practice. If you have a hygiene team that looks at your practice as their own, this is a hygiene team you want to keep.
When a hygiene team is actively involved in decision-making with the doctor, a lot of practice growth can happen. At times, this can mean dealing with questions that are difficult for the doctor to answer. If hygienists are asking questions and looking for answers from the doctor, I can almost guarantee it’s because they’ve had patients asking the same questions during their hygiene appointment. Patients will often ask hygienists about policies, procedures and protocols within your practice. Therefore, hygienists need to be equipped with the appropriate answers to give patients.
Hygienists can offer valuable input regarding how their long-time patients may react to certain scenarios and how to best approach them. This can be especially beneficial to a doctor who has not owned the practice for long.
If the hygiene department is uninformed about insurance, treatment provided, office protocols or any of the systems in place, they will be unable to provide the answers patients are looking for. If there have been any changes at all, it is recommended to educate the entire team. At the very least, educate your hygiene department in addition to whatever department was immediately affected by the change. If the team is not informed of changes, you will find that patients are equally uninformed and there will be frustration that can eventually lead to a decline in patient retention.
It is very important to have staff meetings and make sure the team is kept up-to-date on all policies, procedures and protocols within the practice. Many patients go to the hygienist for answers because that’s who they see the most in your practice; the hygienist tends to be the person that patients have built the most trust with.
Your hygiene team has a huge impact on the treatment that patients decide to schedule. The hygienist is often the “closer” when it comes to treatment acceptance. Yes, it is the responsibility of the entire team to help educate patients on the needs of their treatment and the way your office may be able to help them afford it. But I cannot tell you how many times the doctor in my practice has recommended treatment, and the minute the doctor leaves the operatory the patient turns to me and asks my opinion. This is one of the reasons we recommend the doctor do the periodic exam as early as possible in the hygiene appointment – because it allows the hygienist to reinforce the need for treatment.
Keeping long-term hygienists and dental team members is also important to treatment acceptance and patient retention. Patients are very much aware of employee turnover and recognize that it’s usually a sign of bigger problems within the practice. Whether it’s the way staff members are treated or possibly that employees leave because patients are not receiving the quality of service that is best for them – frequent turnover is rarely beneficial to a practice. It’s important that you don’t discredit the years of experience and established patient trust that long-term employees bring to your office.
More often than not, the hygiene department drives how busy the doctor’s chair is. It’s important to have a hygiene department that knows and understands the importance of their job. They are not there to just do the bare minimum for the patient and get them out. They are there to be committed not only to the patient, but also to the growth of the practice.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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