Launching your own in-house membership program can make your practice stand out from competitors, by offering your patients regular access to affordable care. But why go through all the trouble of creating your own branded membership program, when coupon/lead services such as Etna, Groupon, and 1800-Dentist can offer the discounts to consumers for you?

While these services can create a reliable source of leads by making your practice discoverable to new patients, they aren’t the best vehicle for generating loyalty. There are some exceptions, but usually someone that comes to you via a coupon service is a savvy bargain hunter. Nothing wrong with that, who doesn’t like saving a few bucks here and there? But six months (or a year) after that customer visits your practice for a teeth cleaning, what’s keeping them from going right back to the coupon site for their next appointment? Sure, if you make a great first impression, you’ll retain a few of them, but bargain hunters like hunting for bargains, and they’re just as likely to hunt for another bargain later down the line.

If most of your leads are coming in through coupon services, you’re not really building your own brand. You’re building the coupon’s brand, since that’s where the patients will return when it’s time for their next cleaning. But if you have a way of capturing the bargain hunter’s loyalty while you have their attention, you can break the chain. Offer them a membership with prices that are competitive to the coupon sites, and lock in their loyalty.

Once your membership program is in place, you can stop dealing in coupons altogether, or continue using them to feed your booking sheets. When you offer your own membership pricing, you take control of your own destiny. You set the price, terms, and branding, all without paying a cut to the coupon provider.

If you continue to offer coupon discounts, those patients should be the target audience for membership offerings. After all, they’re bargain hunters, and many will probably jump at that chance to get affordable care in exchange for low monthly payments. Many dentists are already utilizing this kind of synergy to great success, mitigating their concerns about loyalty and lead generation in the increasingly competitive dental world.