A common topic of discussion (and complaining) on most of the forums I frequent has to do with vendor reps and how they behave. Now most vendor reps are great and help us get what we need but there are a few outliers. The biggest complaints I hear about vendors are:
- The rep talks about what other doctors are doing right with their product and how big their practice is in an attempt to shame me into using the product.
- The rep talks about how stupid other doctors in my area are in an attempt to play to my ego and get me to use the product.
- The rep shares intimate details about other doctors or other doctors’ practices. How much they buy, how much they make, problems in their offices and in their lives. These are details that reps should not be sharing.
- If the rep is talking about what is going on in other offices he visits like this with me then I’m certain he is talking about what is going on in my office with others – and I don’t like that!
- Showing up unannounced and acting like they own the place – The reps that show up without an appointment and walk around as if they are entitled to be there drive me crazy. They interrupt my team and me and disrupt the workflow.
- Flirts – These reps show up during a patient day and hit on staff members or flirt with staff members. Whether it is unwanted attention or not, this behavior disrupts the workday and is counterproductive and unprofessional.
- Bullies – These reps know that orthodontists are polite by nature and polite by training and that most of us are unwilling to give offense or be rude no matter how aggressively the rep pushes and they take advantage of this to try and force us to buy.
- Thieves – These reps try to hire away our team members to work for them or to help them with side projects. I wish the best for my team members but to solicit my employees when you are a guest in my office is offensive.
I’m sure you’ve had to deal with one or more of these problem reps and wondered what could be done. There is a very simple solution. Work with a local lawyer or talk to friends who have one and get yourself a Non-Disclosure and Non-Solicitation agreement that is enforceable in your state (state law varies). Once you have this, require that every rep that wants to have contact with your team or enter your office signs the document and then also make reps aware, in writing, that they need to have an appointment to visit your office or speak with your team members – in person or via telephone. Keep these signed documents on file and be sure your team knows the rules as well as your reps. It is unlikely that you will have to use these signed documents – their mere existence is enough to deter most bad behavior – but you will be glad you have them should you need them!