For our latest Ask the Expert topic, I have been asked to cover whether taking deposits from clients to secure their booking is a good and valuable policy to have at your clinic.

Taking deposits from clients to secure their appointments can be a sensitive topic, and you may have experienced patients' objections to paying one in the past. However, our extensive experience shows that taking deposits can be very worthwhile for your clinic attendance rates. Our team's expert skills from in-depth training enables them to discuss and secure deposits sensitively over the phone.

As a busy practitioner, taking a deposit protects your valuable time, ensuring that you won't have any unexpected diary gaps where clients haven't turned up. Along with protecting your valuable clinic time you will also receive a financial return on the time you commit to the consultation. A client who has paid a deposit is showing that they are already committed to your clinic, enabling you to feel comfortable to give valuable consultation time.

There are three different ways that you can take a deposit:

  • Take a sum of money to offset / deduct against the treatment if / when taken – this could be anything from £25 to £75
  • Take a sum of money over and above the treatment cost – normally £25 to £50
  • Take a holding card fee to insure against the person not turning up

Each way has its advantages and any one of them will ensure that your patients don't cancel without any notice; it's for you to decide which method you feel most comfortable with.

This leads me on to mention cancellation policies which you must have in place if you charge a deposit. You need a 24 – 48 hour cancellation policy that is to be discussed at the time of the call and then later emailed out with the patient's appointment confirmation, to protect both you and the client.

Bear in mind that by charging a deposit to secure appointments, you may lose up to 5% of new enquirers as they will not want to pay, however this is offset by a great turn up rate for consultations – IT WORKS. Remember you can always reserve the right to waiver the deposit if you feel a situation warrants a free consultation.

It is important that you do not mention the deposit too early into a call as it can be off putting to a new enquirer and it may prevent them from making the consultation appointment. My advice is to wait until you have established a conversation with the caller and there is the beginnings of a relationship. Once you have clarified that the caller is ready to book the appointment you can then mention the deposit. Our team are trained very specifically to manage this aspect of the call to ensure that we maintain our high conversion rates and it is worth training your staff to do this well and not to fear asking for payment over the phone.

Finally, ensure that you use a secure payment method such as your own card machine, Sage Pay or World Pay – you should NEVER just take a card without a safe platform as this is a serious breach of data protection laws.

According to our experience, taking deposits can really benefit your clinic and significantly reduce the chances of someone cancelling without any notice, allowing you to utilise your valuable time as best as possible. If you're not already doing it, maybe it's worth considering!

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