When dentists have a healthy respect for their dentistry and the fees that will provide excellent patient care:
1 They consistently offer the best dentistry to all patients.
2 Their staff members actively promote optimal dentistry.
3 They have a patient base filled with individuals who want the finest dentistry and appreciate value.
4 They do more of the higher value dentistry they want to do, working with patients who appreciate their service.
5 Long-term outcomes are improved.
Talking this week with Practice Consultant Susan Kulakowski, I became very aware that a large number of dentists do not have a good feeling when it comes to their dentistry and fees.
“Some practices tend to biopsy the wallet,” said Susan. “They present dentistry based on what they feel the patient can afford. Other practices tend to undervalue what they do. They present dentistry based on their feeling of self-worth, in comparison with the highest-reputation dentists in the community.”
According to Susan, this is because:
1 Many Dentists are afraid to lose patients.
2 They think their market potential is at the lower rungs of the economic ladder.
3 They lack confidence in their skills.
The results are a feeling of low self-worth, low income, and patients who are not receiving the best dentistry.
Together, Susan and I pondered the question, What’s a dentist to do?
Countering the Fear of Losing Patients
Patients may complain about the fees, but in actuality, they prefer to “shop up” and select a practice based on the image they are looking for. “Ironically,” reported Susan, “practices with lower fees receive the most complaints, attracting patients whose bottom line is cost containment with little regard for quality.”
Don’t quote low fees because of the 2% of your patients who complain about fees regardless of how low you quote them. Fees need to reflect the quality of care in the practice. Practices that continually give discounts are discounting their dentistry, and it sends the message to patients: “Our fees are too high.”
Think: No matter the home they live in or the car they drive, patients from all walks of life deserve to be offered the best dentistry and to understand the benefits of alternative treatments. They will decide if they can find a way to pay for what is best for them.
Countering the Feeling of Unworthiness
You know you have greater potential. You know how much you could put into your dentistry. You know how much of yourself you are investing day to day.
You are less likely to do your best for every patient, if you are discounting your fee for that patient. If you are not doing your best, you are on a downward path of diminishing self-esteem and happiness.
Remember, you have invested of your personal self and enormous capital to train and equip yourself for this work. You have the ability to offer a valuable service with significant care, skill, knowledge and judgment. You have overhead, and you are needed.
“Attending clinical, managerial, and behavioral continuing education courses is crucial for development of the confidence and competence you need to offer and promote exceptional dentistry,” said Susan. “Invest in educating yourself and your team on a regular basis, and intentionally implement learning. Reach out for over-the-shoulder coaching if your motivation or confidence needs boosting.”
Expanding Your Market Horizon
You and your team can raise your expectation of who will be attracted to your practice.
1 Know which dental services the people in your community are searching for (their wants).
2 Realize the majority of people are seeking value for their money. Therefore, they are looking for a dentist with a reputation for excellence.
3 Train and equip yourself to offer exceptional dentistry and hospitality.
4 Take pride in what you do. Believe you offer the best, and offer it to every patient.
5 Build an online reputation for excellence with rave patient reviews.
“If you believe patients deserve the best dentistry and offer it to all patients the very same way, you can be proud of your dentistry and your fees,” said Susan. Your self-worth, level of dentistry, happiness and financial security will rise. Your patients will benefit. Your reputation will grow. More new patients will be attracted to you, and they will be the patients who want the higher level of care you want to provide.