In Part 1 of Breathe’s series on “Maximising your Membership” Jayne Sproson considered the preparation for launching your membership scheme and, in part 2, the importance of setting the correct fees. This week, Jayne discusses the pro’s and con’s of mailing your clients and some top tips and what to include.
To mail or not to mail that is the question!
Strictly speaking, the best outcome is that you have more patients knocking on your door to join your membership scheme than you have places. The rationale, therefore, is that the places are limited. So, let us imagine that you had been seeing your doctor loyally for the last 15 years, and he/she decided to only see private patients from now on. He/she was also offering a membership scheme on a first come, first served basis. If said doctor mailed in batches or just spoke to his/her patients as they came in, you could end up missing out, despite your loyalty. It would seem much fairer if everyone was mailed at the same time and it also stops 2+2 making 5. Small town gossip could kill your conversion because you haven’t used the opportunity to give out a clear message with a call to action to all your patients at the same time.
So my own advice is do not reinvent the wheel. Go with what makes a successful conversion and, usually, that is to do a blanket mailing. This letter tells your patients that they do not have to wait until their next appointment to join the plan and shows them the first easy steps to joining your membership plan.
What makes a great letter?
Patients are just like you and me! They open the letter and read the top to see if they are going to bother with the rest or move onto something else that needs doing, like getting off to work or taking the kids to school. Here is my checklist for a great mailing:
1. Make sure the letter arrives at the weekend – more time to read it and a night to ‘get over’ that you are leaving the NHS
2. Grab their attention – (e.g. ‘Free Tooth Whitening for all patients at The Amazing Dental Practice’ – you can always add disclaimers and conditions later)
3. Keep it positive – they are not interested in your problems just what is in it for them
4. Keep it short – why/when/what/how/where. Your letter should always be able to fit on one side of A4 paper.
5. Create a sense of urgency – it is only fair to let them know that places are limited
6. Be Creative – don’t send out the ‘same old same old’ benefits of membership ie 2 exams and 2 hygiene appointments. Make it more appealing. Remember what patients want (and it isn’t dentistry!). Sell outcomes not processes. And please please delete all the references that the plan providers put in on their sample letters about themselves. Why as a patient would I be interested? It is taking too much out of the available space you have for your key messages.
7. Include a “Call to Action” – to ensure they have secured their place at the practice they can join before their next appointment by doing x, y and z
Also check any terms in your contract with the PCT that could affect what you can put in your letter. Denplan and Practice Plan do offer a service with regard to this.
If you are considering introducing a membership scheme for your clients, Breathe can ensure your success. If you want some shortcuts to maximising your membership plan, or would like assistance in motivating your team to help implement your plan, or you’ve implemented a plan and would like it to work better, then please contact Ernie on 0845 299 7209 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In the next edition, Jayne will talk about putting systems into place to reach your conversion target.