THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

“So why should I pay your prices?”

Remember the days when you used to go to PC World to buy software for your computer?

How ancient does that sound now?

Drive to the nearest store, wander around the aisles, pick up the box, read the options.

And “which version shall I buy?” was the next question.

Of course, what Microsoft and others did was to generate a series of parallel drop-down tick box menus (is there a generic term for that?), indicating the FEATURES of each version of the software and adding successive “knobs and whistles” for each version.

That made it easy for us to decide how far up the ladder of options we wanted to go – get the basic version because all you want to do is X or the Supersonic Platinum version because you wanted to do X + Y + Z.

Now the spin into the business of dentistry.

I was chatting over dinner last night with the principal of one of the UK’s best specialist referral clinics.

They know how to charge.

A few years ago I needed an RCT and asked the price (this is my own client and a good friend) for his in-house “endo” specialist to do the job – I specifically said “no mates rates”.

After he told me the number they could have performed the procedure there and then, before i came around.

I did actually ask, out of polite interest, why their price was 50% higher then anything I had previously observed and the answer came back “because we have the best endodontist in the UK working for us.”

Commendable self-confidence but bugger off – this is about me.

Back to last night’s dinner conversation.

We were in the West End and I was revisiting last week’s blog post about Q-Clinic precipitating a price war.

I asked my client:

“If I were to ask any member of your team, clinical or otherwise, why you have the highest prices in the region, would they be able to give me a clear, concise and compelling answer?”

Of course, I’m a consultant, so I only ever ask questions that I already know the answer to 🙂

The fact is that they think they know why they are the most expensive:

  1. the clinical team would say “best equipment, best materials, best lab, loads of courses” – because they think its about them

  2. the support team would say “best dentists, lovely building, customer service”

  3. but there would be a sneaking suspicion in the minds of the team that it might be because all the dentists are living the high life?

either way around – its all about “us” (the practice – we are the best) and not all about “them” (the patient – you should treat yourself, you are worth it)

  1. I’m willing to bet that, like my dinner companion, your team haven’t nailed the answer in a way that makes the offer appealing to the patient

  2. I’m equally convinced that you don’t have any written material that answers the same question – no software box

Now my purpose here is to stimulate you into action before the ripple effect from Central London hits you.

Prices, my friends, are coming down – across the profession.

I had an email from a dentist this week, asking if I could promote in my ezine the sale of unwanted Invisalign kits – because the price at which they HAVE to sell is higher than the price at which patients are buying.

And there are no winners in a price war, not even patients – the smallest and most vulnerable businesses are the first victims, the quality of everything goes downhill with the prices.

So YOU MUST train all of your team RIGHT NOW in the communication skills necessary to answer just one question from patients (and telephone punters):

“I CAN GET THIS DOWN THE ROAD CHEAPER – WHY SHOULD I DEAL WITH YOU?”

Back to PC World.

Bill Gates was never there to answer the question “which version of Office is right for me?” – so he created the drop down, tick box menu – that spelled out the features of each version – enabling me to make an informed decision for myself about features that would enhance MY experience.

I propose a campaign inside your business, to be conducted in my absence over the next 2 weeks – to create a similar drop down, tick box menu for the reasons why I should choose:

  1. private over NHS?

  2. white over metal?

  3. membership over FPI?

  4. Cerec over traditional?

  5. your practice over their practice?

  6. independent over corporate/retailer?

  7. Mac over PC (only kidding)

and so on – get it?

Don’t have your telephony, reception, TCO or clinical team “making it up” – get the answers and the lists written as your holiday project for August – so that when everyone recovers their sanity on 1st September, you have it nailed.

Otherwise, bye bye profits, people and patients.

You have been warned.

I reminded a client yesterday that a “recession” is a mental construct (just like the horizon) – it’s not really there and, as Ashley Latter reminds us in his excellent ezine this morning, you can choose to “not take part” – but that’s not by adopting a position of denial – its by upping your game.

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