Just like all of you, we get shoppers in our office daily. As we have discussed in Part I & Part II, having the right attitude and being grateful that we are included in the shopping list instead of resenting shoppers is key to successfully winning the shopping war. Here I would like to discuss the idea that, “most patients want the lowest price and that’s their main driving force so if I’m not the cheapest then I don’t have a shot at getting patients to start with me.”
I hear this a great deal from orthodontists of all ages and in all kinds of demographics. A few thoughts:
1) If you believe this is true then it is true when it comes to your practice. If you believe that your fee is appropriate and that patients get good value then you are good to go. If not, change your fee to a level that makes you comfortable and confident. You and your TCs MUST believe in what you are doing and what you are charging. Otherwise you are toast before you start.
2) If you or your TCs believe your fee is too high but won’t change it and believe that you must discount to convert new patients, that is your prerogative but think about what you are saying to the patient. Basically you’re admitting that you were lying about the “real price” and the patient shrewdly forced you to tell “the truth” by making you discount your fee. That’s not conducive to building a basis of trust and can set up a situation where the patient feels empowered and even mandated to challenge and question you throughout the course of treatment.
3) Most of our patients are kids. Think about the psychology of parents and their children. When a kid turns 16 and her parent takes her to the car dealership to buy her a car, how often do you think the dealer hears, “I am so proud of my daughter – she passed her diving test and is growing up so fast! As a reward I want to buy her the cheapest car on the lot.” Next to never is the answer. Parents want THE BEST THEY CAN AFFORD for their kids. Same goes for cell phones and braces. The best costs more than the not so good.
4) Human beings use short cuts to determine quality in areas where they are not experts. Think about what happens when you take your special someone to a nice dinner in a town you don’t know? Do you go to the local, inexpensive fast food joint or to a fancy place with nice table linens, heavy silverware and multiple glasses on the table? Why? What kind of wine will you order if you’re no oenophile but want a nice bottle? The most expensive one – or at least not one of the cheap ones!! Same goes for braces, cars and cell phones.
5) You can easily add big value by giving the shopper things that don’t cost you much but would cost the patient a lot of money – bleaching, clear brackets, free retainers, etc. And before you nerds say it, yes, this is technically discounting but think about it realistically – it’s an entirely different thing than dropping your price. Value adds are a much better option than discounting your fee if you need to give in a bit.
6) Extending your financing beyond treatment time is better than discounting. If you drop your fee 1000 dollars, I GUARANTEE you will not get that 1000 dollars. If you extend your payments beyond treatment time 6 or 12 months (200 or 100 dollars a month during that time) then you’ll PROBABLY get that 1000 dollars. Which sounds better? Don’t get hung up on that one time you “got screwed” years ago. Be sure to have everyone on auto-draft if you decide to extend financing.
Look, there is no right answer. You should do what is best for you and your business. We should all worry about ourselves and not begrudge others for doing what they think is best for them. I only ask you to think about WHY you do what you do!