As regular as night follows day, the ghost of discounting rears its ugly head in the pure annals of the noble profession of dentistry.
Sure, there will always be those practitioners who will happily try to squeeze their neighbours down on price by undercutting the fees charged by their dentist neighbour…
And all this does is create a whirlpool in dentistry that is pulling the dental profession into the sinkhole vortex of bad attitude.
But on top of this point is the simple fact that there are dentists out there who happily reduce their set fees for their dental services to clients without so much as a request by the client for them to do so.
And when the figures are added up the amount of money given away for no good reason is astounding.
Tale of Woe and Irony #1
I had a client for a very short while who was always late with his monthly payments to me for my coaching services, and who moaned and moaned that he wasn’t making any money and that he could not afford to keep me on because he could not afford my fees.
Well, I had encouraged him to increase his fees by five percent, because in the four and a half years that he had been the owner of this practice, he had yet to raise his fees by one penny.
And so fiscal drag was creating an abyss for him to have greater and greater difficulty getting across.
And he couldn’t bring himself to increase his fees, because he believed that patients would leave and go elsewhere.
The kicker was that the dentist told me that during the previous financial year he had personally discounted or reduced the fees on all of his dental services rendered by more than $50,000.00 for that whole year, without ever ever being asked to do so by any patient.
Effectively he had gifted away more money to people who chose to go to this Dental Office than the amount of money required to pay for my advice.
And of course we all know how much business advice this dentist would have received from these patients that he had gifted that $50K+ to.
Tale of Woe and Irony #2
A dentist friend of mine does locum work now.
Having sold his dental practice, he keeps his hand in by filling in for dentists around the country who are vacationing or who take time off.
In this sort of role the locum often finds that patients will “wait” for their dentist to return, so work loads and types of work can be variable.
My friend was telling me about one office where he worked where he had “finally” had himself a reasonably productive day.
At the end of the day when he went to review his performance and collected his Day Sheet, he found that the reception staff at that dental office had gifted some of his patients a total of $900.00 or more for the day, because the staff felt that my friend had been so efficient with his time.
And so my friend’s skill had resulted in his performance being discounted considerably.
And without his direction or approval.
I see this sort of fee reduction being given away all of the time…
And for no good reason except for some internal guilt owned by the operator or by the staff.
Ask yourself this?
When you go to buy ten tickets to see Michael Bublè in concert, does the ticket office give you a reduced price because you’ve bought in bulk?
What about at the grocery store?
Does the retailer give you some free carrots if you buy more than ten carrots?
Prices are set for profit of any business regardless of volume of purchase.
And in dentistry we should never feel a guilt level for being efficient.
I’d prefer to think that our operator efficiency has been of benefit to the patient in reducing their treatment time and for that we should be financially rewarded rather than punished.
How many times have we slaved over a difficult restoration or crown prep on an upper second molar that’s taken an exhaustive amount of time to complete, only to bill the patient the same fee as if we were working on a small simple procedure on an easy access lower first premolar?
Tale of Woe and Irony #3
I’ve a client who’s employing an associate dentist who reduces his billings each and every time for each and every patient, so that the associate dentist is virtually working each day for some twenty percent or more concession in fees than he should be if he simply just billed and drilled and shut up.
I’ve occasionally visited stores where this has been the case for me, and I’ve wondered why the heck I’ve been offered a price reduction, simply because I am there where I am?
There’s a great second hand bookstore that I visit whenever I’m in Brisbane.
And they do it.
When I turn up at the check out counter with a large stack of pre-loved books, I’m given a ten percent reduction in my bill without me even having to ask.
Or wanting to ask.
And so that business has gifted me some of their profits, for no valid reason at all.
It’s economic suicide.
I’m not sure whether the bookstore owner keeps a ledger of how many dollars are slipping out of his business in this manner?
Again for no good, logical reason.
I visit this store because I know they will have a great selection of booksfor me to peruse.
Irrespective of price.
And our patients will visit our dental offices for that exact same reason.
Because we offer excellent service and excellent skills in what we do.
And they’re willing to pay whatever we see fit to bill them for that service.
So we don’t need to be selling ourselves short for no logical reason.
I know, because I owned and operated a high fee, high collections dental office in an average part of Sydney, where people lived in average homes and earned average incomes.
And we were successful in doing so because of the outstanding service that we provided.
Without having to surrender one penny less than what we decided each service was worth.
It is possible to “hold your line” on price.
You owe it to yourself, and to your family and business shareholders to do so.
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