In 1998, my dental receptionist came to me and said:
“David, the patients are complaining that your fees are too high.”
Which was odd.
Because I had not increased my dental practice fees for about two years, and with inflation running at a rate in excess of 10% per annum, I was feeling that I was actually overdue for a fee increase, just to catch up.
Because, after all, if your fees are not keeping up with the rate of inflation, by NOT increasing your fees you are actually giving yourself a PAY CUT each and every time the Cost of Living Figures are announced.
So, what was I to do?
On the one hand, I was overdue for an increase in fees just to catch up.
But on the other hand, I needed to be aware of what the market was telling me… or in this case, what my dental receptionist was telling me that the market was telling me.
So I pondered….
And here is what I decided to do.
I decided that I needed to make sure that I was being told the truth by my dental receptionist.
I wanted to know what these patients were actually complaining about.
Because, I couldn’t figure it out… why would the patients be complaining NOW that my fees were too high, when I had not raised my fees for near upon two years?
It didn’t make any logical sense to me.
So here’s what I decided to do.
I decided that the only thing to do was to give my patients something to complain about.
If my fees were actually too high already, then if I decided to raise my fees [because a raise was well overdue] then this will be seen by my patients for what it is truly meant to be…. And that is market research.
So I decided to raise my fees.
And raise them immediately I did…. by 10%.
Can you guess what happened?
After I raised my fees by 10%, what I noticed was this:
Nobody complained about my fees.
Not a one.
My practice experienced no reduction in busy-ness. In fact, appointments for treatment became more and more popular and more difficult for patients to obtain.
So prices went up, and more appointments were made, and kept.
Production and collections increased.
More patients were happy to receive and go ahead with more complex longer-lasting dental treatment.
I actually became busier, and collected more as well.
What I realised was that it wasn’t the patients complaining that my fees were too high….what it was was that my dental receptionist felt difficulty in collecting fees from patients.
So here’s what else happened….
What also happened was that my patients began feeling a “perceived” additional value with my dentistry, simply because my fees were higher.
And as such, my dental practice began to attract a more discerning and more affluent client.
And with time, from then onwards, I incrementally was able to increase my fees on a regular basis, in such a manner that I was actually unaware of what exactly my competitors were charging….
Because I had always used my own personal parameters for fee setting….and not relied on what I thought the market was thinking.
Do you think my counter-intuitive decision was correct?
As you know, roughly 20-25% of the population out there do not care what your competitors are charging because they perceive that what they are receiving from you is exceptionally good value.
And it is this 20% of the population that will provide you with 80% of your income.
This is the Pareto Principle.
A lot of dental practices spend a lot of their time trying to satisfy the 80% of the population that only provides them with 20% of their income.
And the valuable other 20% of the population leave and go elsewhere…
Linda Miles is coming to Australia in August.
Don’t miss this once in a life-time opportunity to see and hear Linda speak first hand…
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