Dental Office Collection Letters Series
Dental office collection letters should never be a substitute for collection calls. In fact, the two go hand in hand. And, although it can be difficult to reach patients by phone, it’s still important to try. And I always will begin to try to reach a patient with an overdue balance at the over 30 day mark. However, I will have already initially called a patient with an unexpected balance immediately. Once I am made aware there is a balance the patient is responsible for, I inform the patient by phone right then and there.
Hopefully, I reach my patient with an overdue balance by phone at 30 days. But even if I do, patients don’t always send the payment promised. They forget, or just don’t follow through. So, I will send my initial collection letter if I am unable to reach a patient by phone with an over 30 day balance. And I will also send a letter if a promised payment hasn’t come by the due date.
A series of 3 letters is sent. But each of these letters also has an accompanying phone outreach. It’s important to keep trying to reach by phone. And I don’t feel badly if a patient receives a letter and I have already spoken with them by phone. Honestly, I think it’s a great idea for the patient to see that I am serious about making sure that payment is received as soon as possible.
Collection Letter #1 – Over 30 Days
The first letter will always be a gentle reminder. We really want to always assume the best. And that our patient means well. So, be sure to keep the first collection letter short and sweet. Here’s an example of what I would send:
Dear Mr. Patient,
We have not heard from you regarding your balance of $ .
A statement was mailed to your address on _____________________.
A second statement is attached to your letter today.
Please feel free to contact April with any questions or to make your payment.
Our office number is 888-8888.
It’s my practice to avoid any discussion of financial difficulties or hardships. I just don’t want to open that door. If there is something like that going on, it’s up to the patient to let me know. I would rather they just pay the balance in full and not be looking for a way around that. And I’ve found that when patients do need to make some type of payment arrangement, they don’t hesitate to reach out.
Collection Letter #2 – Over 60 Days
When still no payment has been received over 60 days, a second letter is sent. This will also be the case if a patient has promised payment but we did not receive said payment. This second letter is a little more firm than the first letter. The other thing that I like to do is have the dentist sign collection letters personally. This does a couple of things. It keeps the dentist in the loop of who owes money and how much. And it does tend to get the patient’s attention a little more!
Dear Mr. Patient,
I have been informed that there is still an outstanding balance on your account of $_________ that is now 60 days overdue.
If you have already sent payment in, please disregard this letter.
Otherwise, we would like to hear from you today, please.
I would like to help you keep your account in good standing with us.
Please contact April today at 888-8888.
Collection Letter #3 – Over 90 Days
By the time we hit the over 90 day mark, there is a serious problem. And unfortunately, we are looking at the possibility that this particular account could be turned over to a collection agency. Or whatever final collection system your office uses. One other little trick that I also like to use includes the envelope. I want the mailing envelope to get the patient’s attention!
Try using different envelopes for each letter. With the first letter, over 30 days, use an office envelope. Whatever you would normally send your patients’ letters out in, use it! But with the second and third letters, try using something else. With the second letter, maybe a billing envelope of some type. And with the third, maybe just a plain envelope. Or a different color envelope to peak their curiosity.
Dear Mr. Patient,
Please accept this letter as final and official notification that payment must be received in full in our office by (15 days from now)_______________________ to avoid further collection activity.
There is still time for us to resolve this. Please call April today at 888-8888.
Further collection activity will begin on __________________ (16 days from now), which may include third party collection agencies or small claims court.
Dental Office Collection Letters Purpose
It’s obvious that the purpose of the collection letters is to collect past due money. And we want to collect the money as soon as possible. So, when a patient does call to make payment, try to collect the full amount due. However, it may be that a patient wants to only make a partial payment. Ask for something today. Even if it is a $5.00 payment. Get something today!
Try to keep their credit card on file if they wish to make payments. Ask your patient’s permission to keep their card on file and to bill it automatically on a given date for the amount the payment agreement is set for. This avoids having to go through the whole process again. You certainly don’t want to start calling and sending letters again. So, be sure to ask if you can set up an automatic payment for them.
Notice that the final collection letter states “may include third party collection agencies or small claims court”. And that it is in bold type. Even if you never want to send your patients through a small claims court process, you may want to consider it. Or at the very least, you may want your patient to think you may consider it.
Remember, the idea is to get the patient’s balance paid soon. And there wasn’t a promise of what exactly the next step would be in this collection letter. Just that further collection activity would begin. So, in keeping your patient wondering exactly what the next step will be, they just may be more inclined to call the office today to get it all worked out.
Here’s to seeing your dental office collections reach 100%. And as always, I am here if you need me. Additional support, coaching, consultations, or even monthly support is available to you. Please let me know how I can help. Contact me here!