Friday, November 20, 2009

How much do you charge?

Okay no one cares about bartering.

I only got one comment.

So on to the next topic.

But first, my week.

I have to tell you I have been a complete mess for the last couple of weeks.

I told you about the football, well I don't know if I have told you the extent of it.

When I told you I can't sleep, I really mean I can't sleep. On Tuesday I woke up at 3:30 am, Wednesday it was 4:30, and last night I was so exhausted I was able to sleep to 5:15.

So I am like a zombie.

Both our teams won last night and both the scores were 7-6.

The 1st grade team was chaos. They had never played in a game before, so it was a mess. Coaches literally lifting kids and moving them into place.

I told a kid to watch the quarterback. So he runs in and grabs the quarterback's flag. Problem is that the quarterback handed the ball off about 10 seconds earlier and was just standing there when my superstar took his flag.

Now the 5th grade game. This such a tough age. We are not executing very well and when someone else throws an interception or drops a pass or misses a flag well he gets to hear how stupid he is from the other 5 guys.

Oh and then there is me. I am using everything in my power to not yell out, "What the heck is the matter with you. The play is to the right and you are the only guy on our team to run left.

We are having fun that is for sure. The other coach basically said he was so stressed out that he wanted me to take over the play calling. I am telling you, it is not easy.

So it is not as much having fun but wanting your team to do well. It is at the end of the game and you have guys in the huddle saying, "coach I haven't got the ball yet," and things like that.

It is the second guessing of yourself. You are trying to do good for the kids and you end up breaking their spirits because you are such a shmuck.

Oh the joys of football.

I saw this movie Sunshine Cleaners (when you are up at 3:30 am you have plenty of time to watch movies). It was very good. Put this movie on your queue.

I am going out for pizza tonight with the family, then I am taking my son to see the movie The Blind Side. If you remember I read this book last year. It was one of my favorite books of the year. It was one of those books that you have to shut the book just so you can compose yourself or just stop and cry for a second.

It got a 2 star from my paper. I hope Hollywood did not screw it up.

Remember my friend who past away last week. He has a son that is turning 9 on Sunday.

He and his son had plans to go to Disney for his birthday (Disney lets you in for free on your birthday). He asked his mom if it would be alright if me and my son would go with him on Sunday.

They asked me.

So my son and I are going to take this young boy to Disney on Sunday.

I am totally consumed with my life right now, but I wanted to still talk a little about work.

I wanted to talk to you about a certain phone call. Because it is Friday afternoon and my life is so crazy, what I might do is throw it out there. Touch on it a bit and then talk about it on Wednesday of next week.

The phone call is when someone calls your practice and ask, "How much do you charge for a ____?"

This phone call has so much going on it has given practice management speakers material for a whole weekend course.

How about this one, "My name is Janice, and I am Mr. Stein's administrative assistant and he would like me to make him a cleaning appointment."

(I am posing this to dentist that choose to do a new patient exam first before any cleaning.)

So what is behind this call? What do you train your staff to say?

I am mortified when I go to the front, and I hear one of my peeps answer the phone and do their greeting and then they listen. Then I hear them say, "We charge $80 for that."

Then its, "Oh, your welcome" and hang up.

Some of you might be saying, "What is wrong with telling someone the cost of the cleaning?"

For me it is a philosophy thing.

I have to admit I am probably higher priced than other dentists. Nothing crazy, but if someone is cleaning teeth around town for $75, I am might be $80.

If someone is doing crowns for $1000, I might be $1100.

But there is so much more to my office than just a cleaning or a crown.

Let me try to explain this...

Let's say I need tires, and let's say I am a Cooper tire guy.

I will call 10 places (after I have check out the Internet) and ask them what they charge for the exact Cooper tire that I have on my truck right now.

So I am asking each place what they charge for the same tire.

So for this price I am getting four of the same tires, installed and balanced.

Apples to apples.

So I get why people are calling.

They are thinking I am selling the same Cooper tire that the next guy is selling.

And I believe I am not.

I believe there is so much more to my shop than just selling this tire.

And quite frankly, at my shop I am selling a much better tire.

Now how are you going to inform the caller of this if you just say, "$80...Oh, your welcome"?

To me this is what the caller is saying, "Hi, my name is Stacy, and me and my family are new to the area. It has been 8 months since we have been to the dentist and it is time. I don't know anyone in the area, and I don't even know what dentist to call so can you please tell me if I should come to your office or not? And, oh, by the way, how much do you charge for a cleaning?"

How would you answer this question?

Would you say, "$80...oh, your welcome"?

Or the caller could be saying something like this, "Hi, my name is Stacy and I have lived in your area for about 10 years. I go to your competitor. My kids have been telling me for a while now that they don't like their dentists. I have heard such great things about your practice. I was just calling to see how you treated me on the phone. I was just calling to get a feel for the way that you do things. I want you to win me over. And, by the way, how much do you charge for a cleaning?

I get that a lot of people are money conscious right now. Shoot, I am money conscious right now.

And they just want to know how much you charge, and I am over analyzing things.

But let's say you go overboard with your personality on the phone and you talk to this person.

They were not saying anything other than "how much do you charge?" They weren't new to the area or wanting to change dentists. But you gave them the Ritz-Carlton personality. You went over the top explaining your philosophy, and you told them how you were going to treat them.

You not only told them how much it was going to be, but you have planted a seed.

I have talked too much about it. I will give you more on Wednesday. Cliff hanger, yeah.

What about the administrative assistant call?

This is a tough one.

Okay, so you have a person that is very busy, so busy that he can't make a call for himself.

I have done this myself.

To me this call is all about telling someone about your practice. This call is about you the dentist and how you are going to be treated and does this person want to conform to your practice philosophy.

At my office we take at least an hour to do a new patient exam, and we usually don't clean the patient on the same appointment.

This really chaps some people.

People are busy, and I totally get that. People don't want to spend all day at the dentist office, and all they want is their teeth cleaned. I get this.

But we have to do our job, and we have to do it well.

If they don't want it done the kind of way we do it then maybe this isn't the place for them.

Now dentists, don't you hate letting someone go like that. Can't we just work something out.

I mean this guy seems to have it together. I mean he has an administrative assistant calling for him. He must be important, and he must have some cash.

We all know this guy is trouble if he won't conform to your style.

I will end on this...

I had a patient that came into our office and got nasty with my staff. Husband and wife were both professionals.

Talking about how much money they had and all that.

But every time they would come in I would have multiple stories of how rude they were to my staff.

It got so bad that I had to call them and asked them very nicely to be nice to my staff.

It continued and I eventually had to ask them to leave my practice.

Wouldn't it have been nice to kind of set the ground rules before all the nastiness started.

You can get a lot of that accomplished on that first phone call.

Or you can just say, "$80...your welcome."


Anonymous said...

Ok, Bartering in my opinion sucks for dentist. It might work ok for other tangible services or products. As a dentist doing bartering you will always get the raw end of the deal most of the time. So I don't do it at all. I hope you know that you are actually supposed to file taxes as earned income for bartered services.

As far as having people call and price shopping fees, it really doesn't matter. Most people who do that will most likely not be a good patient anyway. In my experience they are usually a pain to deal with. We are nice to them on the phone but I really don't care because it is usually trouble with a capital T calling. Referrals from existing patients is the best source.

Anonymous said...

Try listening to Yoga Nidra by James Jewell on your Ipod before sleeping .It works and a good stress reliver.
Gloria McMenamin DDS
Towson ,MD


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