Dealing with the financial aspects of a practice may be a chore but it has to be done. Not many dentists like to talk about their fees or marketing tactics. After all, you are health care providers not businessmen! However, your practice is also a business and you do need to make money to stay afloat.
It is therefore unfortunate that many clinic charge way less than what they should, thereby struggling to cover their costs. If you change the fee structure too often, patients may start looking elsewhere for their dental care needs.
When Should You Change?
There is no magic number for how frequently you need to revise your fee structure. What works for you may not work for a clinic in another state. Whether you increase rates annually or more frequently, keep it consistent. This way your patients know when to expect changes. Once you’ve settled on a schedule, you can stop worrying about it until it is time to revise it again.
How Much Should You Charge?
You want to set a price that accurately reflects your costs and profit margin but it should also be consistent with the market. Suppose you charge much less than your competitors in the area. It’s a good idea on paper since lower prices bring in more people right? But it can also backfire on you.
Some clients might assume that lower prices mean poor quality care. While you may see an increase in patients for a while, you risk taking a hit to your bottom line since each patient is paying you less per visit. Pretty soon your practice will be inundated with clients but your staff may be unable to handle so many people at once.
The other scenario is you charge too much. Your patients may simply go elsewhere for their oral health needs. Many clinics are afraid of doing this and refrain from ever increasing their rates, sometimes for years! No one likes paying high fees but your patients understand that you need to change it from time to time.
Tips to Manage Fee Changes
Have a Clear Policy
Patients are less likely to be upset if you have a clear policy outlining the charges and when they are expected to pay. What patients dislike is surprises on their bills. If they expect a bill of X amount based on previous experience and they’re suddenly asked to pay X+Y now, it’s natural to be upset. Tell them about your revised fee structure before you start treatment or discussing alternative options. As long as you are upfront about payment terms, they won’t mind if you raise the fees consistently and fairly.
Charge Fairly For All Services
Before setting a price, make sure to know exactly how much each costs for your clinic to provide. Charging too less for some services while others are prohibitively expensive tends to annoy clients. They might assume that the low prices are to get them in the clinic while you try to upsell more expensive treatments, even if it’s not true.
Provide Financing Options
Are you tired of patients refusing treatments because of the price? You can partner with financing services to offer payment plans. You can also offer options like paying with credit cards or even Paypal. Clients are more likely to accept the appropriate treatments when they don’t have to worry about paying for everything at once.
Many healthcare professionals are uncomfortable with changing their fees but there are downsides to that policy. Keep these tips in mind and you just might find your patients to be more receptive to fee changes the next time around!