Let’s get right to the point. Every time a patient with a nice car, $200 jeans, and an iPhone balks at a treatment plan, we get mad. We often respond with, “You need to create value!” or “They just don’t value it.” Can anyone tell me what that even means?
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Spoiler alert. You can’t create value. If there were truly a magic way to do this, business would be a cinch for anyone with a library card. But there isn’t a magic way. So let’s take a closer look.
People “value” what they can see, understand, and appreciate. More importantly, people are willing to spend money on services and products that help them increase their social currency.
Imagine you’ve just performed the most spectacular endo procedure of your life, the patient was perfect, and you saved the tooth. Hooray! Well, sit down and prepare for the hard truth. The only thing 90% of patients truly appreciate in this visit is avoiding pain.
The value of the clinical skill, preparation, and execution will only be partially coveted by peers who hear you present your story at a local study club. I say partially because even they will be thinking about how they might have done it better.
Ouch! Why does this sting so much? Simple — because you’ve dedicated your life to being a good dentist. You’re good at what you do, and you don’t think it’s too much to ask someone to recognize that.
The truth is, these reactions about “value” aren’t fair to patients. Patients have no idea what you’re doing in their mouth, and if you’re really that good, they’ll see very little evidence of a repair when you’re done.
Here’s an example. Imagine you’re out of town and a tree falls on your car. The local body shop performs a miracle and fixes your car before you return home. They even replace the tree. Psychologically, you’ll never appreciate what it took for them to pull that off. You’ll appreciate the speed and service, but probably not the skill. The only evidence of that will be your bill. Sound familiar?
So what do you do?
Tip 1 — Just who do you think you are?
Pretend you own a luxury car dealership, for instance, BMW. You have a beautiful sales floor and the best cars in town. One day you notice a Kia dealership being built across the street. Do you panic? Maybe, but I doubt anyone on their way to your dealership will make a hard left into the KIA lot, but you may possibly see the reverse. Bonus!
Think about this. Why didn’t you panic? We panic every time a new dentist pops up in town, don’t we? Let’s start with branding. Even if you’ve never owned a luxury car or a KIA, I bet you can list some differences. How? Millions of dollars have been spent to make sure you know the differences.
The thing everyone forgets in this example is, it doesn’t matter if you’re BMW or Kia, both companies make billions. The issues arise when no effort has been made to develop who you are. Don’t get lost in the wash. That’s when you lose. If all dentistry was free, and all buildings were the same, why would anyone come to you? The answer is how and what you market.
Tip 2 — VIPs and 123s
Most business leaders would be blown away by the way we reat our VIPs in dentistry. Why is Mr. Single-surface treated the same way as Mrs. Full-arch? Now, everyone should be treated with respect, but if you have a patient coming in for the type of work you want to do all day, and you do nothing different for them, that’s not good.
Look at the airlines for inspiration here. Airlines fight for business travelers. Ever feel like they step on the little guy, like they don’t care about your issues? It’s because they don’t! Did you know that Delta has a frequent flier status so high, that if someone of that status wants to get on one of their planes, they’ll actually kick a passenger off? It’s true, and they should!
The average person flies once a year. Business travelers fly every week. When the population as a whole is factored in, Delta knows they can lose almost 50,000 regular fliers to keep one diamond member and they’ll still make more money.
Now don’t go kicking people out of chairs, but recognize the 20% of your patient population that is responsible for 80% of your revenue. This can be simple. Make their bib a different color so people can recognize them. When the team sees one of these folks, they’ll know to say something. What people want is the recognition and appreciation — don’t feel like you have shell out big bucks to make them happy.
Tip 3 — Either get in the game, or get out of the way
Nothing deserves an eye roll more that a dentist complaining about the gaudy buildings and marketing tactics of their fully booked competitors.
Derek Jeter, of the New York Yankees, was once interviewed about what it was like to finally make it to the majors. He talked about the day he realized he was a professional, and it wasn’t the first day he took the field for the Yankees.
Jeter plays short stop, a high-pressure position, and he talked about the way he’d pray that the ball would be hit elsewhere. He didn’t want to let the team down or make a mistake. The day he knew he was a professional was the day his mindset changed. He wanted every single ball hit to him. He believed he was the best man for the job.
A superstar office has the honest belief that every single man, woman, and child in their community deserves the high level of care that they provide. So, let that be your intention in all that you do. But no matter what you do, doing nothing is not an option.
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As the Vice President of Client Affairs for the Productive Dentist Academy, Chris Moriarity has worked with hundreds of dental offices, lectured at dozens of events and learned … a thing or two. Armed with a passion for behavioral economics, Mr. Moriarity consults for dental businesses and practices alike. His unique viewpoints help to revitalize the practice and reengage the community.