You Want How Much?


The ADA had an incredibly successful annual session last week. With so many practices feeling the effects of changes in the economy, having almost 30,000 dental professionals in Las Vegas is a sure sign of commitment.

So many times, we wonder how we can afford to invest in things such as continuing education courses or expensive equipment for our practice. The perception of how much something costs is easily justified or negated by our perceptions of what we’ll get in return (cost versus benefit).

So, if you perceive that spending $20,000 for piece of technology will ultimately improve the aesthetic outcome of your operative cases which will in turn increase patient satisfaction and referrals, you’ll be able see the return on your investment.

What about your teammates? How comfortable are they with the cost versus benefit when it comes to a patient’s investment in the dentistry you propose? If they don’t have a strong conviction as to the benefit for the patient, they’ll have a difficult time justifying the investment. Scroll down for some solutions to this common problem.

Stay Inspired,


You want how much?”

One of the most exciting events at the ADA Annual Session this year was the “How much is it worth?” event starring the famous foursome from the History Channel’s hit show, “Pawn Stars.”  ADA attendees lined up to see if their treasures were going to make them instant millionaires.  The stars of the show weren’t getting hung up on how much it was going to cost to buy an item because they had a clear vision of what the value of the item was.  They saw the benefit rather than just the cost.

It’s not only patients that get hung up on fees.  Often team members and even doctors themselves struggle with their own perception of the value of the services they provide.

Remember, this goes back to the ‘Why’ that Rachel talks about so often.  The fee for a crown might seem significant, but what is the overall value/benefit for this client (improved self confidence in a beautifully restored smile, full function during chewing, etc.)?

Here’s the bottom line…the value you deliver must be exponentially greater than the fee.

I was temping in a wonderful practice a few years ago. In the next operatory, I heard the doctor recommend a crown on #15 for his patient and had quoted a fee of $975.00. The dentist then left the room, assuming the assistant was going to escort the patient to the scheduling coordinator to make a crown prep appointment. I overheard the most interesting conversation between the dental assistant and the patient. It went something like this…

Patient: “Wow! $975.00 seems really expensive for one crown.  What do you think?”

Dental Assistant: “Yeah, we keep telling him not to raise his fees but he keeps going up every year.” (YIKES!)

Patient: “Well, I’m definitely going to have to think about it.   I just can’t see spending that kind of money on a back tooth that nobody ever sees anyway.”

Dental Assistant: “No problem.  Once you decide, just give us a call and we’ll get you scheduled.”

She wasn’t trying to undermine the dentist’s recommendations.  She was obviously uncomfortable with the fee.  You must keep all team members aware of necessary changes to our fee schedule, so they will know why the fees have gone up.  Maybe it’s a matter of lab fees changing.  Or, maybe the overhead for that procedure has increased and you must raise fees in order to maintain your profitability.

If your dental team understands the value of an optimally restored mouth, they’ll be less likely to have an issue with how much a procedure costs.  And it may very well be up to YOU to educate them on the benefits.

Here are a few tips on preventing this situation from happening to you:

  • Make sure you (and the entire team) are aware of lab fees, overhead, regional fees for your zip code.  Are your fees in the 40th percentile or the 90th percentile?  The NDAS fee survey and Dental Economics’ 2011 Financial Black Book are great resources.
  • If you (or a teammate) are uncomfortable with a fee, you’re less likely to make treatment recommendations for that procedure.   You must believe that the value of a procedure (decreased risk of heart attack, for example) is exponentially more than the cost.  We work on this in detail with our private coaching clients.
  • If your team is involved in any type of profit sharing or bonus program, make sure they understand the need to routinely assess and potentially raise fees in order to cover your costs and maintain these benefits.
  • Have multiple options to help make it easy for patients to pay for their treatment. This too will increase your confidence when presenting treatment.

Remember what I said about the guys from “Pawn Stars”?  They didn’t have an issue with what they were going to have to pay for an item because they knew the intrinsic value of their purchase.  If you keep reinforcing the value of your dentistry, the patient isn’t solely focusing on how much it will cost.

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