Taking deposits from clients can be a sensitive topic, whilst you and your team may experience a few objections from clients, it is becoming part of everyday good practice to ensure your valuable clinical time is protected.
Our own experience here at AR, gained from working with many clients across the UK, shows that taking deposits can be very worthwhile. Without doubt attendance rates are raised and cancellations provide enough notice that you can re-use valuable appointment slots.
Along with protecting your valuable clinic time you can even choose to receive a financial return on the time you commit to the consultation by charging a non-deductible fee. Clients will often pay a non-deductible/refundable deposit where they would be more put off by being a charged a consultation fee – it’s simply in the wording!
A client who’s paid even a refundable deposit is showing that they’re already committed to your clinic, enabling you to feel comfortable to give valuable consultation time.
There’re several ways that you can utilise a deposit:
• Take a sum of money to offset / deduct against the treatment if / when taken – this could be anything from £25 to £100
• 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.
Our team’s expert skills from in-depth training enables them to discuss and secure deposits 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 many clients.
At this stage we need to mention cancellation policies- you must have one in place if you charge a deposit. You need a 24 – 48 hour cancellation policy 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. This also makes it easier for your staff when they’ve to manage clients’ expectations when they cancel their appointments, especially at last minute.
You need to bear in mind that by charging a deposit to secure appointments, you may lose up to 5% of new enquirers as they’ll not want to pay, however this is offset by great attendance rates for consultations – IT WORKS. Remember you’re in control – you can always choose to waiver the deposit if you feel a situation warrants a free consultation.
It’s important that the deposit 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 making the consultation appointment. Our advice is to wait until you’ve established a positive conversation with the caller and there’s the beginnings of a relationship. Once you’ve reached the point where the caller’s indicated that they’re 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 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 deposit – new callers can feel as though they’ve been misled and may 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 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, it’s worth considering!
For information about how we can support your practice please call us on 0191 7203000