• genna38

Free Dental Appointments Are a Waste of Time

Updated: May 18, 2018

Our view is that free appointments are a waste of time. Period. NO ONE in this world attaches any value to the word 'free' so, by offering free appointments, you are already devaluing the services you offer. Before anyone has even walked through the door.

Free appointments. Discuss.

We (Charles and Eddy) think that this is an area, which is never discussed enough in Dentistry. The main reason for this (in our humble opinion you understand) is that one of the core functions of the Treatment Coordination (TCO) role is to offer free appointments to new (& current) patients - and we all love that concept generally don't we? Quite right too. Or is it?

Our view is that free appointments are a waste of time. Period. NO ONE in this world attaches any value to the word 'free' so, by offering free appointments, you are already devaluing the services you offer. Before anyone has even walked through the door.

Private Dentistry is not cheap, we all know this and it certainly isn't going to get any cheaper as material costs (and costs in general) continue to rise thanks to the weak pound Vs. the Euro and the Dollar - so why would you want to give the impression that procuring private Dentistry is cheap?! Bearing in mind, that the ultimate form of 'cheap' being 'free.' Bizarre.

By offering free appointments you get the price shoppers, the tyre kickers, the wafflers and people who simply cannot afford to pay for private Dentistry, which begs the question - what is the point? They just like getting something for free. It's Pointless.

Then comes the issue around (and I've touched on this in a previous blog) actually measuring whether free appointments bring any value i.e. whether they convert to a paid new patient assessment and subsequently whether they become an 'active patient.' This is an absolute must and if you don't measure this, it's puts the proverbial pointless cherry on the proverbial pointless cake.

We, (Charles and Eddy) have first hand experience and indeed evidence that free appointments are a waste of time. We had a TCO at Hartley, we offered free appointments (and yes they were trained accordingly, by the wonderful Martin Crump no less) and guess what we found? Yep, lots and lots and lots and lots of free appointments, with a conversion rate of less than 20% from free to paid assessment and less than 10% from paid to active - rubbish. Not to mention a cost of 20K per year for the TCO. We now only offer paid new patient assessments as, lest we forget - expert care, service, diagnosis and treatment planning doesn't come for free! The conversion rates are now always 60% upwards on a monthly basis, based on an average of about 40 enquiries per month. Pretty damn good we say... and profitable. We have a tremendous Care Champion in Emma - an example we will be using most usefully in our courses coming in 2018/19. ​ So what to do? I hear you holla... Well... give up on free appointments, they are a waste of your time and devalue your services. Charge accordingly for you expert opinion and diagnosis. This will take courage, but what doesn't in life?

Charles and Eddy.

Edward Jones - Managing Partner at C&E Consult - Helping Dental Practices across the UK, take those steps to success!


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