Dollar Shave Club is oft cited as an example of a start-up disrupting an established industry with an innovative approach. Founded by Michael Dubin and Mark Levine, Dollar Shave Club sells high-quality razor cartridges for a fraction of similar products from Gillette and other behemoths of the shaving world. But the price point and necessity of their product isn’t the only factor in their success. Rather than stocking their product at pharmacies and hoping consumers reach for them over the flashier brands, Dubin and Levine based their company around a membership retail model. Patrons sign up for a plan, and receive a certain number of blades a month.

The success of Dollar Shave Club and similar services demonstrates the win-win value of the membership model. Customers don’t just save money; they get the benefit of checking an essential item off their to-do list. They never worry about running out of blades, knowing new ones will be there in the mailbox each month. Meanwhile, Dollar Shave Club can count on that customer’s loyalty, with little worry that they’ll jump ship to a competitor once they’ve started a membership. The American public understands the value of membership, especially when it grants easy access to an essential need.

In the dental world, many practices are reaping the benefits of a similar model, by offering membership programs that grant access to care in exchange for a monthly fee. The patients get the benefit of regular check-ups, as well as discounts on larger procedures. Meanwhile, the dentist has an extended opportunity to make a strong impression, rather than offering a one-off discount or coupon, and letting the patient slip away six months later.

Dental care is an essential human need, but a large portion of the population (particularly the 126,652,000 Americans without dental coverage) put off their dental visits due to cost or inconvenience. By signing up for a membership plan, these patients up for membership programs, dentists can offer them the preventative care they’ve been putting off. Best of all, the membership program helps secure loyalty, which is a tall order in today’s highly competitive dental markets. View part one of this series “Evolving your Practice”

In our next post, we’ll dive into the advantages of a branded membership program compared to a coupon service.