Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Home Depot

The idea of this blog came about because of my wife. She now is going full-on organic. She feels like there are too many hormones in milk and thinks eggs... Uh, don't get me started.

Now we are buying milk and eggs straight from the farmer. There is a guy who pulls up in a parking lot and pulls jugs of milk out of a cooler and she is buying them. She says the farmer controls what the cow and the chickens are eating. So yes, now we are buying ground beef from Mr. Farmer; the label says "grass-fed only."

I don't know how you feel about all this stuff, but my wife and her friends feel very strongly about it. I am pretty ambivalent. But one thing she also talks about is helping the local growers. This I can relate to. Now, I don't want a ton of comments about how the government is a conspiracy and stuff like that.

There are huge grocery chains basically running the small mom-and-pop store out of business. How can a mom-and-pop grocery store compete with Publix (or Kroger or Ingles)? I don't think they can if they are just selling goods.

Let's look at the mom-and-pop garden center (this is very close to home because one of my best buds owns a mom-and-pop garden center). Before I go, on I want to tell you that I LOVE Home Depot. I just love walking through there. I like doing stuff myself. I love planting my own plants. I love hammering things. I love drilling big holes in things and really love power tools. I just get a warm feeling all over when I walk into Home Depot.

But Home Depot is making the old small garden center obsolete. If my friend is just selling plants, he is dead in the water. Home Depot will go to a grower and tell them that they will pay $.05 per plant because they are buying tons and tons of plants (and the grower might not like it, but they are selling tons and tons of plants. The grower makes less and Home Depot makes more.)

This same grower will go to the small garden center and tell them that the cost is $.50 a plant. Home Depot sells the plant for $2.25 and makes a pretty good profit. My buddy either sells it at $2.25 per plant and makes a lot less per plant or sells it for $2.75 and runs the risk of losing some clients because they "can get it at Home Depot for less."

I remember my friend telling me a story about poinsettias at Christmas time. Home Depot was selling them for less than he could buy them at his growers. He told me a couple of times he would go to Home Depot and buy product! (He doesn't do this a lot because he says the quality of the plant just doesn't live up to his standards.)

But you know what? I have stopped getting my plant stuff at Home Depot and I will tell you why. First, I want to help a brother out (kind of like my wife wants to do). But getting past tha, my friend is so knowledgeable about plants and everything that grows. He knows how the temperature at night effects the way plants grow.

He knows that there is a difference between plant fertilizer and flower fertilizer. He will sell me grass fertilizer (so I can do it myself) but he will let me borrow a fertilizer spreader (this is a service to all his customers). He will sell me weed killer for my lawn and let me borrow the spray thingy to put it on my lawn. All part of the service.

If a customer would like him to sit down with them and plan out a garden design, he will do it for them. They sell fountains and, after they sell them, they provide the installation. See now he is not just selling plants; he is providing a service. He is separating himself from Home Depot.

Do you see where I am going with this? This is what we, as dentists, need to be careful of. Medicine is definitely going through this. Hospitals are becoming the Home Depot of medicine. The hospitals want to be a one-stop shop for patients. They hire urologists, radiologists, pathologists, OB/GYNs, internists, and give them a good job. They pay them well and then what happens to the mom-and-pop internist? Gone.

Dentistry has always had the mom-and-pop mentality. But we can't lose what customers/patients really want. They don't want to just buy a plant. They want the plant AND the service. They want us to know what their garden looks like. They want us to know the different types of fertilizers.

But most of all they want us. The smiling faces behind the fillings and crowns. They want our hygienists to know them. They want to talk to a person on the phone.
They want to walk in and hear, "Hi, Mr. Greene." They want to know that we care. They want to know that money is not the reason we are here.

It is complicated. All I know how to do is good dentistry. But you know what? I don't think a patient knows a good dentist from a bad one, just like I don't know a good plant from a bad one. They all look like plants to me. I am pretty smart - if my friend sat me down and showed me the difference, I could surely appreciate the difference. And so can our patients. So show them.

Take a before intra oral photo and then an after. And say, "This is what a good fillings looks like." Then they see good service WITH good dentistry.

Do I still love Home Depot? Yes I do! But I can tell you that, to me, they are just a store I can buy something in. I am not looking for knowledge and/or service. I never see the same guy/gal working there. I am in and out of there in about 20 minutes. [Unless I am in a bad mood and I need some therapy. Then I just hang out in the power tool section for about 15 minutes and then I feel better. If I am really in a bad mood, I will buy something from that power tool section and be on cloud nine for about a month).

But when I don't know what I need and I need an expert, I go to the mom-and-pop store. Like my local garden shop and my local dentist.

I think I will follow up with more comments about Home Depot on Friday. "What do people want?" Do they just NEED a cheaper price? I had a patient today whose child had two cavities in two permanent teeth and she said she simply couldn't afford to get them done. She didn't need service, she needed a cheaper price.

Let's talk more on Friday.

Have a great day,


Anonymous said...

People don't appreciate the lack of service until they don't get it. Cheapest price wins for a while till they have to get it redone later.

I hope you guys don't catch anything from the farmer since his milk likely isn't pasteurized and his meat likely has not been frozen or nuked to kill the bacteria.

Nathan said...

I work at the Ritz-Carlton, and some guests will only stay at a Ritz-Carlton. Yes it's a chain and very expensive, but the guests return for the service. People like it when someone knows there name, when they speak to a real person on the phone, and when they receive high quality anything.

Skill is also necessary, but a genuine personable approach is what sets the greats apart from the rest of the herd. In my opinion at least.

Sessgrassfertilizer Man said...

You know for those gardening plants I would use mix fertilizer,since a chemical in the fertilizer,called potassium,protects the plants from diseases that builds up in the soil and cold weather.You're a doctor i'm guessing,so you can afford expensive fertilizers.But if you want to be cost efficient,you can get the mixed dry-fertilizers .Out of all the fertilizers,they provide the most flexibility for a man of your honors(Dr.).Dry fertilizer comes in two forms slow release and fast release.It cost beneficial because it requires less reapplication.I hope that helped you.Peace doc!!!


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