Whose cash is it anyway?

A guest blog posting from Susan.

There have many articles doing the rounds recently encouraging dentists in the art of selling treatment plans to patients.  In fact, Alun has an excellent talk ‘Selling Without the S Word’ that has enabled many practitioners to successfully increase the up take of their treatment plans.

A topic that doesn’t seem to be so sexy is bad debts and late payers – often a problem for the receptionist and practice manager.  There are processes and rules for practices to minimise the problem by ensuring it doesn’t arise in the first place – prevention is better than cure.

Start before the enquiry actually becomes a patient – tell them the fees, the methods of payment, the terms of business.  Screen everyone – make it ‘difficult’ to become a patient.

Once they are a patient, don’t bend the rules.

What happens when the rules are broken and who usually does it?

We all know the patient – they have always been a bit unreliable, but they are always so apologetic, really friendly and so complimentary of the practice and the dentist.

So somehow they have charmed their way past the gatekeeper and they have treatment, but wouldn’t you know it: “they have left their wallet at home”, “they’re running late for a business meeting” because “nobody told them the appointment would take this long – I thought it was just the hygienist today”. “Can you pop the bill in the post please”, “Dave the dentist said it would be OK when I saw him at the golf club / Sainsbury’s / the football etc”

Then they vanish, their phone isn’t picked up, emails and letters go unanswered.

When eventually you are able to get hold of them, “they’ve been so busy” – “they’ve a business to run themselves” – “you know how it is” …..  of course, “their wife / secretary should have paid you” – “they didn’t realise you were owed anything now” … and on it goes – “the cheques in the post” – yeah, sure.

What’s worse is they somehow seduce their way back in and afterwards you’re left with another bad debt, failed appointments and a cross feeling that you’ve been conned again.

So make the rules, make sure everyone knows them – dentists, patients, staff – and then stick to them – no matter how the patient flatters you and your practice.

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