As we discussed in our last post, the dental industry is undergoing a lot of change, with corporate chains popping up all over the country, and bringing an unprecedented level of both competition and financial creativity to the marketplace.

Young dentists entering the industry often face overwhelming challenges right out of the gate. Student loans are high, and the market is crowded. It’s no wonder why many give in to the offers of steady work at a corporate practice, but there are still many that cling to the dream of owning their own dental office. Unfortunately, without existing customer loyalty or ties to the community, young dentists are going to have a rough time building a practice from the ground up. And without finding a way to keep patients coming back, many young dentists are struggling to keep their business healthy.

Dentists in these situations are finding some success through outside lead generation sources — such as 1-800-Dentist, Groupon etc. They may also be savvy with social media and Yelp as well, but is that enough? With a plethora of options out there, many patients are “coupon-hoppers,” favoring the latest deal over loyalty to one practitioner. Your average Groupon customer probably fancies themselves a bit of a bargain-hunter and will likely go back to find another deal next time they need dental work. Sure, your professional office staff and high quality of dental knowledge will make a great first impression, but there are just too many other options out there.

This is why membership models are becoming increasingly popular for young dentists looking for a foothold in the industry. By signing patients up for a monthly payment plan that provides access to regular care, you give yourself an advantage in both loyalty and lead generation. The monthly payment model removes financial hurdles, and is particularly attractive to the 135 million American patients without dental insurance. The low monthly payments should be attractive to the coupon-clippers, and it facilitates loyalty much more effectively than single-visit discounts. When you sign them up for a twelve-month membership plan, you have that entire period of time in which to make an impression, and secure that patient’s trust and loyalty.

Membership plans are just one of many tools dentists are using to formulate a balanced financial strategy, allowing them to help more patients and build a solid foundation for their practice’s success. In our next post, we’ll look at how creative financing tools can help more established practices as well, including those looking to sell their business before retirement.