I have never been a fan of discounting.
As a vendor, offering a discount implies that your fee or your price is higher than it should be, and that you are comfortable making a sale at the lesser price, and are happy to do so.
As a customer, asking for a discount insults your vendor, because the fee or price that they wish you to pay has been set, and you are asking them for a concession as a reward to you for being their customer.
As a customer I never asked for a discount.
Nor did I expect a discount when doing business with friends.
All I ever ask is that the vendor provides me with the same exemplary service and quality product that they would for all of their full-fee-paying clients.
I’d rather know that I was being given their best, than feel that I am squeezing them for less than best by asking for them to compromise me on their fee.
And it works the same as a vendor…
If I’m a dentist, and I have a full paying patient need an emergency appointment with me urgently, then I’m going to scan my schedule and re-schedule a non-full-paying patient. Aren’t I?
Similarly, if I have a non-full–paying patient needing to see me urgently, and my schedule is full up with full-paying patients, well guess who misses out?
It’s a simple case of economics.
Discounts for Bulk Buying
I know dentists who give patients discounts if the patient has multiple procedures done at a single appointment.
Well guess what?
When I buy ten tickets to see Michael Bublè in concert, each ticket costs the same as if I had bought them one at a time.
And Qantas do the same with airline tickets…
At the supermarket, the price of baked beans per can is the same whether I purchase ten cans or whether I only buy one.
Seeking low fee patients
Some dentists seek low fee patients.
These are patients who come through a PPO, or an insurance based plan, and the dentist agrees with the supplier to service these patients at a fee lower than his regular fee.
I don’t get it.
When a dentist signs up for one of these plans, is it because there is just like a giant reservoir of these patients waiting to be released to this new dentist joining in the list?
Or these plan patients seeing some other dentist nearby? Or further away?
If they are seeing another dentist, then how loyal will these patients be to the new dentist?
Or will they be more loyal to their plan?
During my first year of owning my own dental business I learned a very important lesson about price-loyal patients….
You see, for the first four years of my life as a dentist I worked in other dentist’s offices and not for myself. During these four years I used to treat a friend of mine and his three children for rebate-only fees…my friend never paid any out of pocket for his dental work.
And my friend was a loyal patient, travelling across metropolitan Sydney sometimes to see me every six months.
But now that I was in business on my own, I informed my friend that from this day on there would be no more rebate-only dentistry, or “mates’ rates”.
Well guess what?
I never saw my friend ever again.
Seemed like my “friend” was only using me for his own financial benefits…
Let me tell you about one of my clients…
I recently started working with a young female dentist who had only been a dentist for four years. She had bought a dental office that was not so busy, and so she had signed up for as many Medicaid plans as she could to increase her turnover.
And increase her turnover she did.
When I started working with her, her office had collected $1.07M for the year.
Not too shabby?
But she was seeing sometimes sixty patients per day, and hygiene appointments were being triple booked on the hope that one of those might turn up….it was unorganized chaos.
A quick look at her fees showed me that some procedures that she was doing she was actually doing at a financial loss…some denture work was totally wasting her time, and she was figuratively “paying the patient” because the fee she was collecting was so low…
So here’s what we did.
Over the space of eight months we SACKED over fifteen hundred patients from that office. My client wrote to these patients letting them know that if they needed dentistry under the Medicaid programme then they needed to go elsewhere, and she would happily send their records.
1500 patients in eight months?
Despite firing fifteen hundred patients, my client increased her collections and collected $1.3M for the next financial year.
Her office became a sanctuary for patients wanting to receive and willing to pay for the exemplary service that she was providing.
She collected more seeing less patients.
And she started seeing only those patients who wanted to see her, rather than all of those who wanted to use her as a convenience.
It’s the Pareto Principle
Twenty percent of your patients will provide you with eighty percent of your income.
And eighty percent of your patients will provide you with twenty percent of your income.
That eighty percent will also most likely provide you with one hundred percent of your headaches.
You see, out there in the general population there exists twenty to twenty-five percent of people who are happy to pay for a good or service from any vendor so long as they perceive they are receiving exceptional care and service.
When you cull out the eighty percenters, you create more room for the top twenty percenters who are seeking out what you have to offer.
It is this portion of the population that you need to focus on attracting to your dental practice.
Not the discount seekers.
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