We’ve all been there. It’s the end of the appointment, and everything went smoothly and as planned. You’re feeling good about your dental skills. Then you hear this from the patient:, “Doctor, do you have a minute? I was wondering if you were interested in purchasing ________?” Things just took a turn, and not for the better.
During my time as a dentist, I’ve been offered air purifiers, insurance, annuities, jewelry, makeup, vitamin supplements, gas utility service, satellite television, telephone service, pre-paid legal services, and kitchen/cooking supplies. I always wonder why people don’t try to sell me things I’m actually interested in.
I try to be understanding. I know people are selling these things to supplement their income. They would rather not have to bother me or their friends. However, I can’t afford to say yes to every one of them.
I do say yes to patients who ask for business card advertisements in their kids’ school play programs. I also advertise in sports programs for our patients’ teams. We all know the financial return on that investment is zero. Absolutely zero. I do it to support those patients that have supported my practice. I’m willing to help out.
So why do I not like when patients want to sell me something? I dislike this because I know may end up losing that patient.
Here’s why. No one likes to hear no. As soon as you say thank them but decline, they start thinking to themselves, “Sure, doctor wants me to buy his services but wont’ buy mine.” Eventually, especially if they happen to ask a second time, they start feeling bad about going to your office. That’s a normal human reaction. Who likes rejection?
By no means am I suggesting to never purchase things from patients. If you happen to be in the market for pre-paid legal services then, by all means, write the check. The patient will appreciate the business. As a matter of fact, my staff and I have purchased things from patients before. Okay, mostly my staff. They seem to like those jewelry parties.
It’s just that I can’t say yes to everyone. If I did, you would see me on one of those television shows about hoarders.
Here is how I’ve been handling this situation lately. I tell them a family member or colleague already has my business in that department. It works a little better in keeping patients. Most understand that we’d give the sales to friends or family before anyone else. But each time they come in, they still tell me how they can beat any price.
Oh well. I guess everyone loves you until you stop writing the checks. How do you handle such situations?
Andy Alas, DDS