Yes we have a flat fee of $2998 at Smiley Face. Yes I love it because at this price point I have a great deal of freedom to practice as I see fit, I treat only people I enjoy and I work only when I want to work to get great results for happy patients – and I take full advantage of the model we have designed! We work 3 days a week 9-3, 44 weeks a year and we have a lot of fun! I don’t rely on anyone to send me patients and thus don’t have to kiss up to anyone. I love what I do!
But the takeaway from the Smiley Face experiment is not about price.
It’s about having simple systems, efficient mechanics, a desirable product that people can afford, happy patients, great service, a fun environment, effectively explaining and marketing what we do, having a good time and loving what we do. This model and these attributes will work at any price point. My wife Bridget was wholly against charging $2998 when we were setting up the practice. She asked why not charge 4000 or 5000? We could have but at those price points I would have had to practice more traditionally, play the GP referral game and be open after school and more often among other things that are expected of a higher fee orthodontist. Bridget understood then and does now that charging $2998 is as much about our lifestyle as it is about business – she’s a great person to talk to if you want to understand why we are so happy with what we are doing. But back to the point. You can charge whatever you want – whatever someone will pay you – and still implement the simplicity, service, fun, enjoyment and days off. Well, in theory YOU can. I know of several practices that do extremely well at the $4500 – $5500 price range. Their practices are much bigger than mine will ever be collections wise because of their awesomeness and their higher fee and their longer hours. But remember that they can charge a higher fee because they are awesome – they are not awesome because they charge a higher fee. Some orthodontists are just better at relating to people than others and patients are willing to pay for that.
It all comes down to this: If you’re getting great results then keep doing what you’re doing! If you’re not getting the new patient flow you want then it could be any number of things and price is only one of them! So remember, it’s not about price it’s about how well you do what you do, how many people know about it, how desirable what you offer is, the value perceived by potential patients (your perception is irrelevant – if there is value the number of patients who show will let you know) and your level of service. If you do all of these things well you will thrive at any price point. If you don’t do them well then a lower price is certainly the great equalizer when it comes to public appeal.