Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wheeling and Dealing

I am reading a book called Bonhoeffer now. Another huge book that might take me til Christmas to finish. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor of reformed church in Germany that was arrested and killed because he plotted to assassinate Adolph Hitler.

Okay, topic de jour. Something that has been happening to me lately that I know must be happening to you. I am getting a lot of wheeling and dealing for my fees. You know what else is happening? I am wheeling and dealing other people for their fees.

Let me tell you about what I do first, and then I will talk about people haggling with me. I needed to have trees cut at my office. I have used one guy in the past that I wasn't enamored with but who is usually cheap, so I had him come out give me a quote. I then got a recommendation for another guy. I called him and asked him to come out and give me a quote.

The first guy gave me a quote for $1,200. Then the second guy gave me a quote for $1,600. I liked the second guy, so I posed this to him. I said, "I have received a quote for $1200 and you were $1,600. I really want you to do the work, how about if we meet in the middle and you agree to do it for $1,400?"

By the way, this was all done by texting. Isn't all real business done by texting? I don't get it, but this is the way it is going, so I am jumping on board. Anyway, he texted me back, "I will do you one better, I will do it for $1,200 and will earn your business." Wow! I was impressed. I got the guy I wanted to do the trees and he did it for a 25% discount.

I am thinking nowadays that everything is negotiable. People are willing to "earn your business." People are willing to do the work for less of a margin just to do the work. No one is not willing to work with you.

Except for my computer guy. I have to tell you that I like my computer guy.
I think he is good at what he does and he is honest, but he is expensive. I need new computers. At our small office, we have 14 computers and they are all over 5 years old. Computers are like dinosaurs in five years. And the new computers are twice the computer I got 5 years ago. He quoted me at $26,000.

Now, I am no math wiz, but I know that is almost $2,000 per computer. WHAT?! Come on, dude. I wrote him an email that it was too high. Then I got a letter from him saying that he doesn't just offer computers. He offers a service, "much like your business." It is not just a filling, it is pride, it is someone standing behind his work, quality in everything. I can't argue with him because I agree with him, but...

That brings me back to my office. "I know you quoted me $7,200 for those six veneers, but will you do it for $6,000?" These are patients that have been around a long time. I am not going to tell you what I do because just when I write something that I don't want EVERYONE to read, somehow everyone reads it. But one of the things I wonder about is if I do this and the word gets out, then everyone is going to start wheeling and dealing with me.

Am I cheapening my work? Yeah, I can justify not giving a break to people but when it is hard to pay payroll and someone wants to give me $6,000 instead of $7,200, I jump at it. So what if I am cheapening my work? I am meeting payroll this week.

There are a lot of factors for me. I absolutely love doing dentistry and, quite frankly, I would do it for free if I could, BUT my staff doesn't feel the same way. I love people and I want to help everyone. I truly have to fight the urge to give everything away. "Yeah, sure, why not? No problem." But my staff would say "Oh no you aren't. No way. Are you crazy?"

But my staff doesn't know the bills coming in. They don't know that the roof is leaking, or how much it costs to replace the chipping laminate floors. They don't know that we have a tree hanging over our neighbors building that needs to be cut because of liablity. They don't know the stress of just trying to meet payroll or they don't know what is like when you just hate to open the mail (and get angry at the mailman).

I don't know the answer. I wish I could tell you a secret, but I think it is just where you are at right now. I think patients like us and sometimes they just want to see what we are made of. Do you think this patient that has $6,000 to do veneers doesn't have $7,200? What are your thoughts?

Hope you are having a great week.

P.S. Just a warning: I am on vacation next week. The family is going to the beach. I don't want to miss much work, so I will be coming back and working for a couple of days, but me blogging is very much in question. Maybe just one from me and I will ask Scott and JJ if they want to double up. Anyone got a particular topic in mind?


Anonymous said...

Markets are funny. The value of something is price that some one will pay for it. Ask your staff if they are willing to work for less or not work at all. All of a sudden they will understand this concept. Its always better to do something for less than not at all, i.e., keep someone's business, rather than lose it. This is the only way businesses will survive this economy and dentist's aren't exempt. Hey, at the very least, it will increase your value in the eyes of the patient. Enjoy your week off - I'm shortening my vacation this year as well. G

Anonymous said...

There is no reason the computers should be that expensive. Dell has great sale around Christmas time usually $400 with monitor.
Just add more memory and you should be fine.
Yes pt are trying to bargain fees when it comes to the expensive stuff. Sometimes I help out sometimes I don't. It is a case by case basis.

Green Black Walnut Hull Tincture said...

I hate such thing which can take my life.. But I always love to be called a reader of your blog and I also like to be reader of Bonhoeffer...thank you for the post...

CharterDental said...

I always appreciate your perspective. I really like the idea of earning someone's business (though in today's economy, sometimes that doesn't even matter in the interest of saving a few bucks). I guess it depends on your industry. Anyway... Have a great vacation!

Dentist in Colorado Springs said...

I thought you were going to bring the bartering aspect of this. Hey, I'll put in tile floors for you if you give me a free crown. Until the economy picks up I predict we'll see more an more of this.

Enjoy some down time.


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