By: Charlene White
Quite often the question is asked by callers, “How much do braces cost in your office?” “Can you give me a ball park fee?” In the past, I found most doctors told their staff, “Do not quote fees over the phone. That’s why we offer a complimentary exam.”
The external factors have changed drastically in the last few years. I was interested to find out how this question was currently being answered. That prompted me to have a secret shopper call seven offices to get a feel for the responses.
The following is a recap of those calls:
The lady on the phone was very helpful and friendly. She indicated it would take approximately two weeks to get in for a consultation. She also noted that the doctor is the only doctor in the area who uses the Suresmile scan/system. She stated there would be no charge for the initial consultation; however, if a Panorex was needed there would be a fee of $95. She stated the doctor would talk to me about the cost of the braces at the exam; but in general, the fee would be from $5,800 to $6,400. She also stated they offer a variety of in house financing.
The lady who answered the phone was pleasant. She indicated there was no charge for the initial exam and they could get me in within one to two weeks. She stated that their new patient exams were offered at 8:15 or 10:15 AM, noon, or 2:15 PM. She indicated that the cost of the braces would range between $2,000 and $6,000 depending on the complexity of the treatment.
The person who answered the phone was helpful and had a nice voice. There is no charge for the initial exam; however, if x-rays or impressions are needed, there is a charge of $260. If the referring dentist took a Panorex within a year, you can bring it with you and save on the fees. It would be two to three weeks before they could get in a new patient. After the initial exam, the patient would come back in two weeks later for a consultation to meet with the doctor and discuss the treatment plan. The fee for braces starts at $4,100 with a $700 down payment and monthly payments of $160.
Phones were closed for lunch (not a good idea!).
The lady who answered the phone was pleasant. She stated it would be about a month for a new patient exam (a little longer as the holidays approach). There is no charge for the initial exam; however, if x-rays are taken there is a $200 records fee. The average cost for braces is $5,810.
The person who answered the phone was not friendly and seemed rushed as well as uninterested. She indicated they would schedule an initial exam, but they would need a letter from the referring dentist with the date of the last cleaning, stating no follow up treatment was needed before they would schedule an appointment. She was not willing to discuss the fees.
The lady who answered the phone was very friendly. She stated it would be two weeks before they had a new patient exam available. She said there is no charge for the exam, however, a records fee of $390 would be charged for x-rays and impressions. She stated that if the referring dentist had taken a Panorex, we could bring that with us. She also stated that if we decided to move forward with treatment, the $390 would be deducted from the fee, which runs between $4,900 and $5,900. She stated they did offer a $200 paid in full discount or the fee could be divided into monthly payments. She stated most treatments (and financing) ran from 18 to 24 months.
Phones were closed for lunch. They returned the call at 1:50pm. The person calling was pleasant and very helpful. She said that the general cost for braces is $5,000 plus or minus $200 but would be determined by what treatment would be needed. Also, for children ages 5 – 7 yrs, they have Phase I that ranges from $2,000 – $2,500 for preliminary work that is needed while they are young, knowing they will need further treatment when they are older.
As you can see from the responses, five out of six were willing to quote a range. One office was closed for lunch. In today’s competitive climate, that is not a good idea. Busy people make their calls at lunch. The truth is there is a wealth of information about how much orthodontic treatment costs on the internet. There are no secrets. Some moms are looking for a value for the dollar invested and others are looking to minimize their out of pocket expense.
It’s up to the orthodontist to evaluate what fees are working for them. The case acceptance percentages are telling. Is your case acceptance excellent, good, average, or does it need improvement? I consult with practices who are excited to see their production go up immediately by implementing more effective systems with regards to their new patient process. As the external factors change, it is important to evaluate the internal factors. Moms make 85% of the decisions in the family regarding expenditures. Mothers today are intelligent shoppers. They are doing their homework on the internet, and they are quite busy. One of my clients who is, as many doctors are, concerned that braces have become a commodity said his answer would be, “I’d be happy to sell you a cup of braces for $100.00! We have inside, outside, clear, and metal. Take your pick!” Changing times bring forth new and continued challenges.
In conclusion, it is important for the team to know how to answer frequently asked questions. Consistency is the key. Put your answers in writing and role play for practice. Focus on two or three items per week. Celebrate your achievements together as a team.