It’s true! A membership plan simply collects recurring payments in exchange for goods or services. Managing those recurring payments in a reliable, trackable fashion should be all you need to grow a successful membership plan... Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Based on personal experience, collecting membership payments is only part of the equation. It's actually the simplest and most straightforward part to implement. It’s the other administrative tasks that can make managing a growing membership plan difficult without the appropriate tools.
In our dental practice we already had this in place. Our existing merchant processor had a tool where we could store credit cards or ACH information and schedule recurring payments. This worked great! We collected our member’s payment information, scheduled the first payment, set the frequency for future payments, and voilà! We had our well-oiled machine off and running. What we didn’t realize - while we were adding hundreds of members - was that there was so much more.
Here are the top five features that makes membership software more than just a payment system.
1. Renewal Reminders
First and foremost, every single membership plan should auto-renew. You are creating this plan for the patients benefit and it has to be simple for you to manage. Without this, it is a huge headache for your team and will not create the kind of business impact you envision. Most membership plans are for a single 12 month term with an auto-renewal function. It is the patient’s responsibility to make sure they use all of their covered services within that 12 month period. The peace of mind that your membership platform is automatically sending multiple renewal reminders and reminding patients to come in for services, helps ensure satisfied patients!
2. Card Notifications
A good membership plan will send transaction receipts. It will also notify your patients and team when cards on file are expiring or payments have failed. The point of the platform is to make managing the plan seamless for the admin team AND the patients. Automatic notifications allow your patients to take care of certain issues themselves, so the plan stays current and eliminates lapses in coverage.
3. Member Status/Eligibility
What if a member calls in with a dental emergency? It can be challenging to comb through transaction history reports or rely on documentation in the practice management system. It can also be hard to know whether the patient is eligible for covered services or discounts, especially when managing hundreds of members. A membership platform, allows you to quickly search for the member in the system and immediately see their eligibility in real-time. View their specific payment history, update information, or confirm other family members from one easy system.
4. Streamline Plan Changes
Things change. The cost of doing business changes. Prices increase. Protocols change for recommended services. Eventually there will be a need to make changes to your plan pricing or services. Without a membership plan software, even getting a list of your member contact information can be a big challenge. Whether you want to mail a personalized letter or send a mass email, it can be difficult to export and assemble contact information for just your membership patients.
Furthermore, when you do need to change the price of the plan, without a software platform it is a manual process. Going into each member’s record and changing the price one-by-one in your merchant account is time consuming. Even worse, if you are manually processing payments, you open yourself and your practice up to the possibility of human error. Using a membership plan software allows you to do these things in a matter of a few clicks.
5. Revenue Forecast
You cannot look into the future or plan ahead without a tool that gives you real-time information in a simple, organized fashion. We generally use this for financial planning, goal setting, and tracking business impact. But forecasting membership revenue was never more important than when dental offices were closed for months due to the pandemic.
In March, April and May 2020 this was a critical feature for dentists to know how much revenue they could expect from their membership plan payments. Especially at a time when it was their only source of income!
Building a loyal, independent patient base will give you the freedom and power to practice how you see fit. Using membership plan software that has the best interest of the patient, as well as the practice in mind, increases revenue and security. Investing in such a tool means you are investing in your practice and it’s long term success.
If your plan is not structured appropriately or not priced correctly, no software is going to make it successful. When you choose Plan Forward, you choose a membership plan partner. We work with you to create, implement and most importantly MANAGE your membership plan.
The real magic happens when your plan is structured so you are making money, the patient is saving money, the team is on board, people are enrolling without hesitation, and you start to feel the freedom that comes with working directly with your membership patients. We can help. Let's Plan Forward!
To learn how Plan Forward can help you leverage your uninsured patient base, or for more information about Plan Forward, schedule time to speak with our team of dentistry experts.