Deciding whether to take a consultation fee requires some thought – whilst it’s a simple process it can be contentious.
Taking consultation fees from clients can be a sensitive topic, you and your team may experience objections from your clients, however it can be a great way to ensure your valuable clinical time is protected.
Consultation fees are something most callers will have come to expect with private healthcare or cosmetic procedures however there can be a reluctance for prospective new clients to pay consultation fees for aesthetic treatments, and the word fee can be off putting to some.
Our own experience here at AR, gained from working with many clients across the UK, shows that taking consultation fees can be worthwhile: attendance rates are raised and cancellations come with enough notice that you can re-use the appointment slot. Along with protecting your valuable clinic time you also receive a financial return on the time you commit to the consultation.
There are a couple of ways that you can implement a consultation fee:
Either way comes with its own advantages and it’s for you to decide which method you feel most comfortable with.
If you want to attach a fee to your valuable consultation time but don’t feel ready, or are uncomfortable, with the idea of charging a consultation fee, you could look at taking a non-refundable/deductible deposit – it’s simply a different use of wording that can achieve a similar outcome without using the word ‘fee’.
Our team’s expert skills from in-depth training enables them to discuss and secure consultation fees sensitively over the phone- it’s a conversation we’re comfortable to have here at AR, after all it’s something we do day in and day out on behalf of our clients.
At this stage we need to mention cancellation policies- you need one in place if you charge a consultation fee at the point of booking. The policy should be discussed at the time the booking is made and then later emailed out with the patient’s appointment confirmation, protecting both parties, a 24 or 48 hour cancellation period usually work well.
You need to bear in mind that by charging a consultation fee you’ll lose a number of new enquirers as they’ll not want to pay the fee, however this will be offset by great attendance rates for consultations. Remember you’re in control – you can always choose to waiver the fee if you feel a situation warrants a free consultation.
It’s important that the consultation fee is not mentioned or asked for too early into a call as it can be off putting to a new enquirer and may prevent them from booking. Our advice is to wait until you’ve established a positive conversation and once you’ve reached the point where the caller has indicated that they’re interested in booking the appointment you can then mention the fee. Our team are trained very specifically to manage this aspect of the call to ensure that we maintain our high booking rates- it’s worth training your staff to do this well and not to fear asking for payment over the phone. A further tip is to ensure that your staff don’t spend time booking an appointment into your diary only to then mention the consultation fee– new callers can feel as though they’ve been misled and will often back off from making the booking.
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.
In a nutshell charging consultation fees 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, it’s worth considering!
For information about how we can support your practice please call us on 0191 7203000