Are Subprime Dental Implant Leads a Waste of Time?
What do you do, then, when you see patients who require extensive work like full mouth dental implants? Do you have to accept “no” for an answer when a patient’s a prime candidate for an array of treatments but presents a subprime credit score? In many cases, you and your patient could have more borrowing options and buying power than you might assume!
Why Poor Credit Patients Aren’t Necessarily Poor Leads
Before diving deeper into the ins and outs of credit scoring, it’s important to understand that subprime borrowers run the gamut. More specifically, a patient with a credit score of 650 is much closer to being able to move to a good credit score than someone with a credit score in the 300s. Even if a patient’s score is in the 500s, the patient might not be too far removed from being able to afford dental solutions that cost $15,000 or more.
In other words, the actual score isn’t always the end-all, be-all in terms of a patient being able to borrow money. Credit scores change, sometimes on a monthly basis. Additionally, there are 27 different types of credit scores on the market. That means one lender might determine a patient has a score of 590, whereas another might put the patient closer to 630. With so much variation in scoring, you can’t give up without trying.
If you’re surprised to hear this, think of how surprised patients who’ve been denied repeatedly by lenders feel when they learn they might have a chance at receiving life-altering dental treatment. Often, they’re grateful to learn that you’re willing to help them and not just turn them away like everyone else.
Ways to Assist a Subprime Patient in Borrowing Money
Of course, you’re (probably) not going to lend money as a dental practice. Nevertheless, you can take a few steps to assist leads with subprime credit scores. Doing so will help you get more out of your lead sources, fill your sales pipeline, and improve your long-term conversion rates.
1. Show empathy for patients who receive “double denials.”
A double denial happens when a patient tries to get credit from a few places and just can’t because of a poor credit history. Rather than saying, “Sorry,” revise your approach. Say, “We’ve seen this before and will coach you on how to raise your credit score to qualify.” Sometimes, it takes only three or six months to raise a person’s credit score to credit rating agency approval levels.
Will you have to do a little hand-holding? Sure. However, being able to complete a $30,000 treatment is worth the effort. For instance, offer double-denied patients a handout that explains ways for them to increase their credit scores. These can include not taking on additional credit, paying off their bills on time, and paying down existing debt. That way, you can call them occasionally to check in and see if they’ve followed your suggestions. If they have, you can rerun the credit and see what happens.
2. Find out if someone else in the household has a higher credit score.
Patients often live with other people, like their spouses, parents, or children. Don’t assume that everyone in the household has a poor credit score. Even spouses frequently have different credit scores from one another. Consequently, if a patient can’t get approval to borrow money for treatment, the spouse may be able to on the patient’s behalf.
Alternatively, patients may be able to find friends or family members willing to cosign loans. Cosigners need to be aware of their risks and responsibilities, certainly. Yet many people are happy to help the people they love get dental services to improve their quality of life.
3. Bundle services to maximize patients’ borrowing potential.
Consider this situation: A patient’s desired smile journey will cost upwards of $50,000. However, the patient can’t borrow that much because of subprime credit. What if the patient could borrow less, such as $20,000? Is there any way to bundle several treatments so the patient can inch closer to the finish line?
To be sure, this will affect your profit margins. After paying necessary provider fees, you may make less by bundling than you would if you priced each service individually. At the same time, the profit may still be worth it when you consider volume. Even if you make less per patient, you may make more than you would per year. Best of all, the patient begins to see a major difference, which can be an incentive to work on improving a languishing credit rating. In the future, the patient may be able to complete the full treatment thanks to your assistance, patience, and expertise.
Building Lifelong Fans by Accepting Patients With Poor Credit
More than anything, all patients want transformative procedures that can affect both their everyday life and health. Yes, you need to get more qualified, creditworthy patients than not. But that doesn’t mean you can assume that all consults with poor-credit patients are a waste of time. When you work with someone to get them over credit obstacles, you position your practice to win a fan for life. And remember: Fans tell people about your business and can turn up your referral network.
The next time you run a credit report and it seems unlikely that your patient can move through the system due to a score in the 600s or lower, reconsider the situation. Credit issuers may be more flexible than you think. Even if they’re not, you have the opportunity to make a positive impression—and potentially earn future business thanks to your foresight and understanding.
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