I hear this all the time. Whenever 3 or more orthodontists have a discussion of any length, the topic of shoppers is bound to come up. You can feel the indignation and almost smell the angst as each orthodontists takes a turn telling a story about a patient who dared to visit more than one orthodontic office before investing thousands of dollars and deciding who will care for their children! Everyone nods and agrees so of course this perspective must be right. Right?


We orthodontists shop for major purchases with regularity. How can we get mad when others do the same? If we shop for a car, doesn’t it make sense to shop for healthcare for our kids – not just on price but on feel and service and all those things that come from visiting a doctor and an office in person? Is it shoppers that these doctors really dislike? I don’ think so – it’s shoppers that don’t buy from THEM!

Being upset that potential patients are weighing their options and looking around is silly and a waste of energy. Worse still it creates an attitude and a culture in the office that will reduce the chances of getting a shopper to buy! We must make a conscious effort to prove to people why they should trust our office with their time, money and their children by showing them how awesome we are and the great results we get! We should be honored to get the chance to be included in the shopping list! This is a much different attitude than one of resenting those who are looking out for their own best interest (as they should) and your office will stand out if you can achieve it.

Here is a sample interaction of what happens in our office when a patient tells me they are shopping.

Mom: “We are going to visit several offices before making a decision.”

Me: “Awesome! I think that is the smart play. You shop for a car don’t you? Of course you should shop for your child’s healthcare! There are several great orthodontists in the area – I know many of them and we catch up regularly at orthodontic meetings or at lunch. We are very fortunate to have such a great group here. Be sure to have an orthodontic specialist treat your child no matter where you decide to go. Let me know if you want some recommendations on other offices to visit. When we finish here you’ll have all the info you need – problem list, treatment plan, financing, appointment info, etc. – and you can take a copy of the records with you so that little Johnny won’t have to go through that again or have another x-ray.”

How many other offices treat shoppers this way? Do you think we stand out from the crowd? How great would it be for the patients and for the profession if every orthodontist treated shoppers this way?