To Membership or To Package, That is the Question

As a healthcare consumer the new healthcare law has radically changed how we think of health care whether you believe that is a good change or a bad changes debatable but it does give the consumer different options that were available even a short time ago and how they pay for different kinds of health services. Chiropractors (in my opinion) have had some of the most interesting changes in their industry in sometime as a result of the recent healthcare law changes. Those chiropractors who have continued to use health insurance payments as a majority of their receivables have seen many healthcare insurance companies delay or denial of payments upon first billing of a patient's services simply to save money.I have seen this happen over and over again and because insurance provider knows that a chiropractor will not go after the patient for the money they will simply wait for the payments no matter how long it may take as long as they can continue to remain solvent. There is another group of chiropractors out there who have now decided to go completely to a cash system which enables patients to have control over their healthcare spending dollars directly with the chiropractor themselves. Patients then are responsible for submitting their own receipts for service as long as the receipt needs basic reimbursement requirements, (things like a proper name and a proper billing insurance coding title and number). The idea for the chiropractors in the situation is because I health insurance provider does not want to upset their customer they are more likely to pay or reimburse their customer which saves the chiropractor significant amount of money and allows them to spend more time seeing patients. This second trying to better fits with what many other companies in other industries been doing with their customers for the last several years thanks to innovations in modern automation technologies such as self checkout lanes at many retailers. In the long run it can save significantly on overhead cost of hiring an employee and train them as well as two if done correctly reduce theft by employees and customers.

So getting to the idea title of this posting I have been considering several different options that would allow individuals to have greater control over the money they spend with me in the massage room. My getting printable since the day I open my private practice has been to treat people the way that I wish to be treated as a consumer. To that end there is a line that could be crossed that would not allow me to remain objective in the face of what the consuming public expects from the business community with the use of modern technology and the overall changes in the values society puts on customer service and customer service policies. 

Some members of the consuming public would rather pay a little more for better quality services and superior customer service. There's another group that is only looking at the price of a service but still holds a very high regard to the standards in which they receive service. There is also another group next in between those two and that is the most consumers who wish for you to be open all of the time at the lowest price with no regard for the employees or their compensation. In between both extremes in the middle there are most business owners including myself and for that reason there's a constant debate myself and my principles.

 

When I was a younger therapist starting out in the massage in history it was very difficult for me to find a job and an industry that is typically staffed by females. I felt that my superior education would help sure me at least a reasonable amount of interviews to give me started in the industry. It's debatable whether my thought process was correct in that matter but more importantly I first started working in membership-based spas. With the same very long contracts and long commitments I immediately began to see how all the businesses had attempted to create value through constraints (membership contracts). When I had not fully understood at the time was that the membership price was actually no great savings over the independent therapist market rate in our area. The customer believes there's a value in being able to get an appointment seven days a week for approximately 13 available hours a day. The unseen the staffing in that this would be paid 30% (which is historically is at an all time low) and asked to work unreasonable hours repeatedly over to meet up with strings of the general public for very early or late appointments seven days a week. 

There is a strong argument in the opposing direction from independent therapist who tend to believe that the extremes of the general public's demands for certain features in massage and spa prices and availability could be better tamed by simply bring back the time honored tradition of respect between the customer and professionals who serve them. Therefore many therapists will have much more customer friendly policies but have fewer hours available for appointments and typically charge the same if not slightly more than a membership-based system. To me member based customers never bother to look for independent therapist simply because they're advertising is as prevalent as many of the membership-based programs. Most of the general public never gets the opportunity to honestly compare what will best fit their beliefs and their pocketbooks.

So as I stated I have struggled with the question of pricing and availability most important by with mechanism to high provide the most value in my time or in my price. So many therapists have tried a hybrid solution to their membership programs and as a result many of them have found real success. For others or independent they have offered packages which bring in significant cash flow but require a real customer service commitment from the practitioner to follow through with their promises of service and to keep the customer happy with much more mutually respected professional and customer policies.

 As many of you may know I do have a want to hear sale where I provide small but affordable packages to customers who cannot afford to work on the right membership model due to cost or availability. For sometime I have wrestling with the idea of providing permanent packages which could be available any time of the year. My packages were originally designed for those people who could not make it in a regular basis to receive the maximum discount or who do not need the maximum discount. They were meant to be used over a long period time but many of the purchasers of these packages use them immediately. My intention for the use of the packages was not the result and therefore has bang the question of providing packages on a regular basis for all customers or to simply provide people the opportunity to put credit down in an account and discount will be applied as each client became eligible for such discounts.

I share all this information and hope that clients reflect on not only their own buying behavior but also to have an understanding of what goes into making the policies and prices for a business perspective. I honestly believe that many business owners I know want to make a living and they do so within a wide berth of ethics which can bring them as many clients as it does repels. It brings me to many questions without answers. Questions? Just ask and I will show you how going from a membership to a package and now to a pre pay system will change how you spend your hard earned money.