Maximise Your Membership – Part 4: The Follow-Up System

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 and, in part 3, the letter. This week, Jayne discusses the importance of having a follow-up system.

The huge decision to leave the NHS system and move to a membership scheme can only be viewed as one of THE most important strategic decisions in a dentist’s professional life. It could be argued as important as the purchase of the practice or your family home and yet so many dentists continue to enter the project unprepared. One of the most common mistakes I have observed in the past 18 years of working in the profession is the lack of systems for the team to follow during the conversion.

Clearly, each conversion will have its own specific challenges which need to be accommodated, however ALL conversions require follow up systems for dealing with patients who tell you ‘they need to think about it’ (a classic red herring!) or the other favourite stalling mechanism, ‘I need to ask my husband’ (would they do that about a dress they want to buy? Or paying the vet bill?).

So here is how the follow up system works – (and it does!).

Even with the best sales training, there will be some patients who do not sign on the day.

Step 1: Who is responsible for patient membership recruitment?

Give ownership for recruiting patients to someone on the team: a key member of the front desk team, or (in an ideal world) to your Treatment Coordinator. Ensure that someone on the team has the specific responsibility for patient membership recruitment: your Recruitment Officer. They will coordinate all follow up for potential members (ie your “sales leads”).

Step 2: Recording Key Information for Follow-Up

Once the dentist has completed the handover of the patient to the “Recruitment Officer”, your patient’s details must, must, MUST be recorded by the person who owns the recruitment. You need to set up a membership recruitment file for all patients to be recruited and record for every patient:

  • The patient’s name
  • The patient’s up to date contact telephone number
  • The reason why they have not joined on the day
  • The date and time that has been agreed to contact the patient about their decision.

Step 3: Ensure you Follow-up Quickly!

Ideally this should be within 2-3 days so the sales lead remains “hot”. Giving the patient the paperwork to take home is not closing the loop – your recruitment officer must be absolutely clear on this! And, one call is not always enough. Ensure you set prompts in your system to follow-up again at an agreed timescale, and then always do that follow-up.

Step 4: Review Progress Regularly

It is vital that you and your team have your finger on the pulse of how your conversion is going. Arrange and ensure that you hold weekly review meetings to review progress against your target and discuss what is working well that you can do more of to increase recruitment. If you are not hitting your weekly target it is easier to identify the reasons why and take the necessary remedial action. The follow up system should be part of your weekly review with your team on the conversion target. It also means that should the person who owns the target have take time off for ill health etc. your conversion is less likely to be vulnerable as anyone should be able to pick it up and run with it – so long as their skill set is appropriate.

Step 5: Choose your Attitude!

Teamwork, tenacity and a positive friendly voice making the follow up call are all key to a successful conversion.

Don’t just take my word for it… Richard Hellen of York Place Dental in Cumbria (see contacted Breathe to review why his team wasn’t initially hitting target and we identified that the team were not following the follow up system correctly, due to a simple misunderstanding. Richard took immediate remedial action and all the team at Breathe would like to send a Big Congratulations to the York Place Dental team on hitting their target in January this year. A fantastic achievement against all the odds – a downturn in the economy, flooding in Cumbria, and snow keeping patients away. Great teamwork, leadership, tenacity and a Positive Mental Attitude. Well Done!

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

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