My best business decision

A matter of trust

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Steve Croston, owner of Church Road Dental Practice, discusses how changing plan provider was a matter of trust…

After becoming the sole owner of my practice, I took the opportunity to move to a new dental membership plan provider.

I had been in a partnership but decided to buy out the co-owner of Church Road Dental Practice in Liverpool. As you can imagine, it was a lengthy and rather stressful process and a time when, more than ever, I needed professional support and understanding.

I expected to receive that from my plan provider, who I had been with for more than 20 years. The reality was that I felt really let down.

I’m a firm believer in trust, especially when it comes to business, and ultimately, I knew I needed a strong support system around me. My confidence in my long-term future with the provider we had in place had been shaken.

“I’m a firm believer in trust, especially when it comes to business, and ultimately, I knew I needed a strong support system around me.”

I wanted a provider who would be transparent and stand by the support they claimed to offer me, one who would treat my practice as the individual business it is, with a true understanding of my future goals and plans.

It was time to make a change. I sought advice from fellow dentists and local practices about where to turn to. Following the recommendation of one of my peers, I contacted Practice Plan’s Regional Support Manager for the area, Janet Mason.

We had an in-depth chat and there were several things that helped me to make my mind up.

“It also made sense from a financial point of view for both the practice and our patients, as I discovered that I could offer a better plan deal for them and make significant savings to my bottom line.”

Firstly, in contrast to my previous provider, it genuinely felt like it was all about the practice, building up our business and our branding. I would be supported with bespoke practice-branded literature and a team who were focused on my success not theirs, and our patients would develop a stronger brand with us and not a third party.

It also made sense from a financial point of view for both the practice and our patients, as I discovered that I could offer a better plan deal for them and make significant savings to my bottom line.

Janet didn’t give me the hard sell at all, but I finished our conversation convinced that Practice Plan had the dental plan, experience and passion to provide me with support that goes way beyond just administration. I knew they were a partner I could trust to help me build a strong and sustainable business.

And, I’m happy to say, that has been my experience. I consider Janet, and everyone at Practice Plan that I work with, to be an extended member of my team. All of them, from Janet to my point of contact at their head office to their in-house design and marketing team – who have already provided us with bespoke materials to grow our patient membership, have a great depth of knowledge and experience.

This year, the profession has needed to manage regulatory changes that significantly impacts dental practices. Of course, I’m talking about GDPR – the legislation that has literally affected every dental practice in how patient data is stored and used. For practices with membership plans, there has also been the Insurance Distribution Directive, which changed the way the insurance element of a plan is organised and promoted, to contend with.

Of course, as a business it is hugely important that we comply with such regulations and that we are prepared well in advance. Once again, I found Practice Plan were there when I needed them. They’d thought ahead on my behalf and developed a carefully considered and meticulously planned approach to both – with our needs at the forefront. They acted way ahead of time and even offered a dedicated GDPR course to provide proportional and sensible advice to create a smooth transition for our patients.

“Once again, I found Practice Plan were there when I needed them. They’d thought ahead on my behalf.”

Ultimately, ensuring patients are happy is always our priority. It is something I was particularly conscious of when the business was moving from being a partnership to having a sole owner. After that period of transformation, I was keen that any further changes had to be positive, and the transition between plan providers was truly seamless, partly due to being able to move patients over to the same capitation like-for-like plans with the minimum of fuss.

It was also a smooth process from the business’ point of view, as within three months we had moved over three quarters of our patients which meant there were no issues with cash flow. I was able to continue concentrating on dentistry during the transition, with the peace of mind that everything was running like clockwork in the background.

“I know that Practice Plan are really dedicated to supporting the growth of my business and feel it’s made all the difference in driving my business forward.”

I truly feel that moving plan provider was the best business decision I have made. I now have a partner I can trust and am in the place I first envisioned when I took over the practice as the sole owner. I know that Practice Plan are really dedicated to supporting the growth of my business and feel it’s made all the difference in driving my business forward.