PJ Byrne, the CEO for Humm in the UK and Ireland, talks us through who Humm is and how it plans to reinvent finance in dentistry to help your practice grow.
What do you do and what are you hoping to bring to dentistry?
That’s a really good question. I guess for us, whether we like it or not, we are associated with the buy now, pay later space. But we actually wouldn’t see ourselves as a buy now, pay later. The main reason for that is that here at Humm we split your payments anything from £1 all the way up to £30,000. This is over a term as short as four fortnights and out as long as 72 months.
When I look at other players in the industry, they offer a customer one way to pay – it might be in four, in six or in 10 instalments.
But here we basically say to the customer: ‘You tell us what you want and we will make it happen’. This is to make sure that it fixes to their budget. It isn’t just around what we want to do and what we want to offer.
Why is this something you think could be so beneficial for dentistry in the UK?
The main thing with dentistry is that it is so expensive. We speak to a lot of customers, and we ask simple questions such as why do you invest so much when it comes to this space? A lot of it goes back to confidence and we all know if we feel more confident in ourselves, we’re happier. When we’re happier, obviously we’re living a fuller life and everything becomes a lot easier.
So for us, we look at where we can make a difference. We really believe that we can make a difference in this industry because, as I mentioned earlier, we can give the customer an option to split expensive transactions over whatever period they need to make it affordable.
I’m saying smile – it could be many different things – but they get that smile that they really want, and deserve.
How can dental professionals implement Humm in their practice? Is it simple?
Yes, it is very easily done. When I speak about a customer, we have two customers – so we would see our partners as our customers. What I mean by that is that it’s our aim to make sure that we give them a great service. As part of offering great services, you have to be very seamless – everything we do is API driven.
By ending on the platform that the potential partner is using, we can implement and integrate within just a couple of minutes. If it’s a standalone, bespoke or in-house system, that can take up to a couple of days. But what we do is hand over our developers to a potential partner and they do the work.
Working alongside their integration team, they make sure it’s again as simple and seamless as possible.
We’ve yet to meet a platform that we couldn’t integrate with.
It does differ from platform provider to platform provider but we simplify everything and we do most of the work.
A lot of partners like to have their own tech team overlooking and helping to make sure it is done to their standard as well, which is great. We encourage it!
What sets you apart? What do you do differently?
This is something I get asked daily. A lot of people would ask why have you come to the UK market?
When we did our research on the UK market, we found what we believe to be a really big gap in this space for a transparent and fair provider.
What I mean by that is that everything that we’re going to do from upfront marketing all the way to taking the customer to purchase will be built around the customer.
For example, if someone is applying at home for finance, they will know upfront that it’s finance. We’ll do right by them. We’ll do the correct credit checks to make sure the customer isn’t already in financial hardship.
What comes off the back of that is a better customer to that practice. That practice can then sleep at night knowing that their won’t be any brand damage.
Word of mouth
For us, all of our strategy is very different from the rest. We want to be around for the long term, so that means we’re not obsessed about making money quickly upfront. Our strategy is very simple.
We want more good customers from day one. So how do we actually end up making money, because everyone asks the same question? We have a customer for years and years – they make multiple purchases throughout their lifecycle and we make money through that.
We do not make money off their first time transaction, nor do we want to. So where we’re different is that it’s our goal to be here long term and to be market leaders in transparent finance.
I think that kind of approach is very appealing to dentistry. It’s very much built on things like word of mouth and trust and giving people a great first impression so that they know to come back to you whenever they want further treatment.
How can this help handle the current demand for dental treatment?
I suppose there’s a couple of different ways you can look that. If it’s backlog from not being able to get the finance to actually pay for procedure, our main goal is to make that budget available.
We don’t want it to affect their overall lifestyle that they currently have. We’re well aware life must go on and we’re not out to get people to spend money they don’t have. We’re out to help people budget, to help them get what they want because they can actually afford to pay it back.
We would be the provider that would actually advance funds if we have done our checks and believe the customer cannot afford to repay.
We pride ourselves on transparent and flexible financing.
Stronger cash flow
But we will also make it easier to budget to get what you really need done.
As a practice, you are paid upfront. Your cash flow will be a lot stronger and it can be used to buy more materials or equipment, or maybe to bring on more staff. We talk a lot about being a partner, and not just a finance provider.
We come in and we sit down with the partner and we actually put a plan together to see how we can add more value than anyone else that’s in the market.
That upfront payment is key – that’s what we keep hearing from our partners. If they were waiting for it in stages, it’s a little bit more difficult to manage cash flow. Whereas paying for the full procedure upfront obviously leads to more cash flow. The key can then be to grow out that practice and get bigger and bigger.
How is Humm different to traditional dental finance companies?
I’ve been in the industry for such a long time and for years it was always our mission to digitise this space, which we have. But on the way we realised that certain industries like doing things certain ways. You have some practices that absolutely love how digital Humm is, and then you have other practices that don’t want to be that digital.
Again, we listen to our customers so everything that we build, we build it configurable. So if you are a practice and you want to be very hands on, we can give you the ability to be that hands on. We don’t recommend it, however.
Where we really add value is because we’re so digital we do all the work with the customer. This includes an app; you can do your application on the web and we send the customer an approval to use.
This means that the receptionist or whoever looks after that side of the business doesn’t actually have to sit down with the customer and do the application for them.
That said, if you want to, we can absolutely work with you and build out that process for you. It’s really, really simple.
But for us to be really adding value, we would like to say actually we’re not going to tie up the receptionist so they can get on with other tasks. The same applies with GDPR as well. This is probably something that people are probably tired of speaking about but it’s something that is going to get more serious.
At Humm, we take away the risk of having to scan documentation and upload documentation for the customer. We do that ourselves with the customer via the app.
What are the top three benefits of using Humm in dentistry?
The first would definitely be that transparency for the customer. When we are onboarding a customer, everything is clear. We send you a customer that you will have for life. Dental procedures aren’t just for today, it’s a life cycle. We want to get a good, loyal repeat customer. We’re going to make sure that the customer is looked after from start to finish.
Some people are quick to look at us and say we are auditors and or another finance provider, but we’re much, much more. We don’t just do finance, we do relationships. And why we succeed in whatever market we’re in is because of that relationship.
We provide hands-on account managers who will come in and train, who will come in and talk about marketing – whatever it might be to make sure that you’re getting value for the relationship itself. We are also very big on our brand and we’ve so much pride in it. Never would we put our brand at risk and we would never do that to anyone outside of Humm either.
When you partner with Humm you can be guaranteed that you’re partnering with somebody that will have as much pride in your brand as they do their own. You will see that because it’s not every industry that we will offer our services to.
This is because we believe there’s some industries that don’t work for our brand. We’d rather not potentially damage ourselves by going into that industry.
I mean this with the greatest of respect – we don’t have interest in financing small ticket, short term. At a personal level, I don’t see a future in that. I keep going back to the relationship and the life cycle – we want to change people’s lives.
If you are going to purchase a pair of trainers for £50, that’s not life changing. But if go in and you want to get that smile that you’ve always dreamed of, that’s life changing. If you want to renovate your home, that’s life changing. We’re about being there for when you make those life changing moves.
Humm will have a stand at the Dentistry Show Birmingham on 13 and 14 May 2022.
For more information visit www.shophumm.com/uk.