One of the simple rules of business is to make more [money] than you spend.
And that makes sense.
Otherwise, if you spend more than you make, you go out of business.
I see dentists all the time sailing close to the breeze when a new shiny object comes along….
You see what happens is this…. the dentist takes the shiny object on “terms” rather than paying cash straight out.
The reason he takes terms is simple. He justifies that the extra small amount of money each month needed to pay for the shiny object will be easily achievable from this new shiny object, and in no time the new shiny object will have paid for itself many times over.
Or if the new shiny object is not a piece of dental equipment but is rather a new toy, then the dentist justifies that the monthly payment for this new toy can be easily achieved by doing one or two more cleans or one or two more fillings per month.
And then what happens is that just after he acquires the new shiny object another shiny object appears. And the dentist takes the new shiny object too, also on terms. And then another shiny object will appear. And they get that one too. Followed by another. And another. And another….
Sooner or later the dentist finds himself with a cupboard, or a spare room, or a home garage, overflowing with shiny objects that do not seem to be doing the job as well as they should be, or not providing the entertainment that they thought they would….. and they’ve also acquired a small pile of long term contracts that slowly drip money in cumulative amounts out of their bank accounts and into the accounts of finance companies and big lending banks.
I see dentists setting their fees using “feelings” rather than mathematics.
This is wrong.
They “feel” that their fees need to be “average” or need to be lower than their neighbouring dentists.
And so this is how they set their fees.
Let me tell you that when I ran my dental practice I never knew what my neighbours were charging for their dentistry.
And I did not care.
All I cared about was making sure that the fees I charged were reflective of the overheads that I had, and were reflective of the investments I had made in acquiring a dental degree and in acquiring the knowledge I needed to provide excellent care to my customers, clients and patients.
My fees also needed to be reflective of the investment I had made in acquiring my dental office.
“Feelings” had nothing to do with it.
What I discovered was that a fair percentage of the population [20-25%] were happy to pay the fees I charged so long as they received excellent service and excellent care, and so long as I did not hurt them.
What I found was that serving this section of the population provided me with eighty percent or more of my income.
It’s the Pareto Principle.
I also found that setting my fees based on mathematics allowed me to sleep better at night, because I worried a heck of a lot less.
In this day and age across the whole world there is a lot more competition in dentistry.
However, there will always be that section of the population who will not choose you on price, but rather, will choose your dental office because of the way that you and your team treat them.
Don’t be caught up in fee setting based on feelings, or in buying new shiny objects based on “terms”.
Customer A and his wife are driving through the English countryside. It’s two o’clock, and they haven’t eaten since breakfast.
A quick check on Trip Advisor and they realise that they’re not far away from the Mason’s Arms pub at Sunny Bank, which is out in the middle of nowhere, but is rated well.
Customer A sets the GPS for the Mason’s Arms, and they’re off…..and on course to be there by 2:25pm.
Until they get caught behind a slow-moving garbage truck.
Those of you who know the UK know the back roads in the countryside are narrow at best, and so poor old Customer A and his hungry wife have to sit patiently behind this slow-moving truck, for what seems like an eternity.
Anyway, our happy couple finally arrive at the Mason’s Arms, park the car, and walk in to the bar.
They are greeted by a handsome young bartender who is polishing glassware.
“How can I help you?”
said the bartender.
“We’d like some lunch”
said Customer A and his wife, in harmonic unison.
“Lunch is over.”
said the bartender.
“Kitchen closed at two thirty.”
he said with authority.
Customer A looked at his watch.
Customer A says:
“But Trip Advisor says you are open from 11:00 to 11:00”
The barman says:
“Trip Advisor is an independent website. Our hours are listed on the bottom of our own website.”
Customer A’s wife said to the barman:
“Have you got anything at all to eat?”
The barman replied:
“We have some desserts. Or I can offer you a bag of crisps.”
There was no flexibility coming from the barman.
Zero. Zilch. Zot. Nada.
Customer A and his wife left the building. They were not happy.
Customer A and his wife sat in their car and by 2:38pm both had left One-Star Reviews about the Mason’s Arms on Trip Advisor.
Trip Advisor is an independent website.
Customer A and his wife were not happy.
The Tale of Customer B:
Customer B and his wife are driving through the English countryside.
It is late afternoon, around 2:45pm, and they are both feeling quite hungry.
They are on their way to a large regional town, when by chance, their GPS has them approaching the village of Crossthwaite where they had eaten lunch only three days earlier.
So they chance their arm….
Customer B and his wife pull in to the Punch Bowl Inn and Restaurant, and guess what, the Punch Bowl serves lunch there right up until 4:00pm.
Customer B and his wife do not have a reservation, but are welcomed warmly by the floor manager Adam who looked after them three days earlier.
Customer B and his wife enjoy a hearty lunch, and then continue on with their journey. They leave extremely happy with their meal, and that the Gods had redirected, or directed them back to where they had enjoyed a fine lunch a few days earlier.
At the end of this meal, Customer B and his wife leave the Punch Bowl Inn and Restaurant a glowing Five Star review on Trip Advisor.
Trip Advisor is an independent website.
What’s the moral of these two stories?
The moral of these two stories is simply that you never know who is going to turn up at your doorstep for dinner.
Or in this case, for lunch.
And you never know what they’re going to tell their friends about their lunch…..or what they’re going to tell the world.
Sure, when you own your own business, it allows you to set your own rules.
Those rules can be when you want to work, which days, and what hours, and which customers you want to serve, and who you choose not to do business with.
How does this story relate to dental?
Imagine if one of your patients arrived late at the end of the day for their appointment? After racing across town and being caught in traffic?
Would your team stay back and treat them?
Or would you send them away?
Does your team have flexibility in their systems to allow for slight variations?
Sure, in the case of this restaurant, lunch has to end at some time. But their needs to be some flexibility, don’t you think.
Why not have an “external” end of service of 2:30pm, which is advertised to the world, but with an “internal” flex time of 2:45pm that allows for those who might stroll in, or rush in, just a few minutes late of the “external” time.
In dentistry you can do the same.
Your lab turnaround time could be fourteen days, but if you schedule your patients for twenty-one days, you create a flexibility. If the crown is delayed a few days from arriving on time, you still have flex time built in to your scheduled appointment time with your patient without having to alter things for them.
And if you say to your patient:
“If your crown arrives back from the lab early would you like us to call you and bring your appointment forward?”
then you are seen in your patients’ eyes as being the best in the world for thinking of them.
Where else in your Dental Office can you create internal and external flexibilities that advantage your customers?
If you look closely at your business you will see opportunities everywhere.
P.S. The events for Customer A and Customer B happened to the same couple.
And on the same day.
Don’t ever think that your dissatisfied customers aren’t going to walk across the road into your neighbour’s dental office and find what they are looking for…..