If you want to know how to have a successful practice, just start studying people. it’s people that make up your practice. it’s people who pay you for what you do. they make decisions about you and your dentistry in similar ways as they do about other things they buy.
So let’s take a look at some fascinating human buying psychology that gives some excellent insight into your practice:
Things are starting to run a little low at the house. The basic staples are almost depleted. There’s only one roll of toilet paper left. Most of the canned goods are gone. You could really use some beans, rice and pasta as well. You jump in the car and go to the best place to get the best “deal” on household necessities – your local discount, big box wholesaler.
As you walk the isles, you see shelf after shelf filled with commodities; mass-produced, widely available products whose quality is generally the same from brand to brand. You buy commodities based on one thing and one thing only – PRICE!
As you pack everything you have purchased into your car, you pride yourself in how much money you saved by being such a savvy shopper. And so you pull out of the discount store parking lot and drive a few blocks down the street to Starbucks to reward yourself with your favorite espresso for which you pay a premium price.
What’s going on here defies all logic. Going out of your way to save money on the one hand and then paying a premium price moments later for something that you could get for mere pennies somewhere else. Logical? Maybe not. But it happens thousands of times each day all over the world.
Why are we willing to drive across town to save a little money on what we “need” and then turn right around and pay a premium price for what we “want”?
The answer lies in the buying proposition. At the discount retailer you are engaging in a transaction to get things you have to have – necessities. Your motivation is to get it at the best price possible.
At Starbucks, however, you’re buying much more than coffee. You’re buying an experience. It’s the atmosphere, the custom cup of coffee made exactly to your specifications. You’re buying the status of the Starbucks name. In fact, you’ll probably carry that cup of coffee around for an hour or so with the label facing out just so people can see that you are a Starbucks kind of a person!
What’s going on with toilet paper and coffee has a lot to do with what’s going on in dentistry. Here are two powerful lessons to be learned for your practice:
Lesson #1: Don’t let your dentistry become a commodity.
Every day I see dentists advertising “bargain” dentistry; cheap cleanings and exams to get patients in the door. Other dentists agonize over their fee schedule. “Am I competitive with other dentists in town? Maybe if I lower my fees I get more business.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The more you depend on low fees to drive traffic into your practice, the more you lower yourself to the ranks of commodity, need-based dentistry. Patients will come to you for the bare necessities. You’ll be busy perhaps. But highly productive and profitable? Not likely.
Lesson #2: Dentistry can be about a great experience and relationships, not just about price.
How do you tell a great cup of coffee? Do you judge it by what you know about the quality of the coffee beans or the excellence of the machinery that roasts and grinds them? Not likely. All you know is that a good cup of coffee tastes good, you feel good, and you enjoy the experience of buying it and consuming it.
And so it goes with dentistry. Are patients good judges of quality dentistry? I wish they were. But they’re not. In fact, they may not know for years if the quality of the work in their mouth is any good. So how do they judge you as the dentist? By how they feel when they are in your office and with you. Do they like you? Do they trust you? Are they comfortable in your office? Do they feel better about themselves for having been in your office?
Those are two of the simple keys to unlocking the door to the right kind of practice; to going beyond “usual and customary” and helping people choose comprehensive, preventative care over “drill and fill,” patchwork dentistry.
So you decide. Do you want a price driven, transaction “discount store” where patients come only when they have to, or a relationship driven, experience destination that patients will rave about to their friends and come back again and again? I think you know the answer.
Steven J. Anderson is the founder of numerous dental organizations including Total Patient Service Institute that specializes in creating high performance, case acceptance dental teams. For dates and locations of the next Total Patient Service “Total Immersion” experience, log onto www.totalpatientservice.com or call 1-877399-8677.