So you’ve got a new patient coming for some dental work. Great. You’ve even set up a treatment plan for them and booked a number of appointments to get the work done.
But there’s a crucial bit of business you still have to take care of. You need to make sure they fully understand your payment policies.
An office’s financial policies should be written down and thoroughly understood by all employees, team members, and, in particular, your front-desk coordinator.
One key person in this process is the patient themselves. They may have some idea of the payment options open to them but it’s important that you educate them as to the specifics to head off any awkward misunderstandings.
I’ve found that a best practice is to get payment in full before a procedure is started, or a retainer of 50 percent down with the balance paid upon completion of care – for patients with approved credit and credit history.
Your practice should provide financial options such as Care Credit, Wells Fargo, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover.
Of course all of those payment options have a cost to your organization with fees ranging from 2 to 21 percent. So offer as many options as you can but keep an eye on the costs to your practice.
Given the fluctuating costs attached to offering credit, it might seem that cash should be your preferred method of payment. Except that it’s really not. Accepting cash for payment brings with it another set of problems. Given the prevalence of credit, debit and epayment options most practices don’t have the procedures set up to process cash transactions, which means large sums of money are left unsecured for hours at a time.
Although you and your team should do a daily balance of payments, cash is impossible to track and very difficult to account for going from day to day. Over time, you will be confronted with issues surrounding missing cash: was it stolen, misplaced, or accounted for incorrectly? All these issues can create doubt and tension in your office. So if possible, try to avoid cash payments.
If you would like to talk to me about turning your dental practice in a model of professionalism, please contact me.
And he knows that once you “get it right,” it’s not a great leap to replicate that success over and over again.
Today, in addition to his work as an actual dentist, Dr. Coughlin coaches, consults and speaks to dentists across the country on how to build the practice of their dreams – based on proven processes and procedures.
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