Does this sound familiar?
“Why is Dentistry so expensive!”
“Can I get a discount on my treatment?”
“Wow, that’s a lot – I guess I’m paying for the Dentists new car huh!”
“My neighbour had a crown from the place down the road, and
it only cost them $800!“
There is a good chance you and your team have heard at least one patient say something along these lines when discussing booking the next appointment. Without guidance and training in responding to statements like these, it can lead to an awkward, unproductive encounter with the patient. When well prepared, these conversations can turn out to be beneficial both for the patient and the practice. “How?!” I hear you ask – well keep reading to find out.
Set your team up for success by equipping them with facts they can use when discussing the cost of dentistry.
Do you know how your prices compare with similar practices or those in your area? Schedule time yearly to research your competitors’ prices for a range of treatments and see where your prices fall – chances are you won’t be the cheapest, and you won’t be the most expensive either.
Reflect on the value your team provides your patients that might set your prices apart from theirs. Are your clinicians and staff constantly doing additional training to develop their skillset and level of service? Are you allowing sufficient time in your appointments to ensure your infection prevention and control is second to none and that you have enough time to treat the patient with gentle care and to perform your dentistry with precision? Are the lab technicians hand-crafting your crowns onsite when the practice down the road is sending work to a less skilled technician?
Create a resource of the above information that you can share with your team, and they can refer to it in future.
Allocate time at a team meeting to discuss the importance of being well-trained in having conversations about the cost of Dentistry and treatment at your practice. Show them how your prices compare and discuss why your fees reflect the quality of care and service your patients receive.
Give your team permission as to what they can discuss with patients; providing them with this information will empower them to speak confidently. Ensure they understand the points they need to make rather than simply providing them with a script.
Schedule a time to repeat this training in one year (or sooner if required) to ensure that all staff convey a consistent message about pricing.
Provide time for your team to role-play responding to standard price-related comments using the information you’ve provided and examples of the verbals below. In my experience, it’s not enough to give the information and expect the team to feel comfortable to relay it to the patient immediately. Practising first in a safe environment helps everyone to find their own way of communicating the information and hearing how conversations sound aloud.
Set your team up for success by allocating time in subsequent staff or department meetings to review conversations with patients and discuss what tweaks might be required. Keep having the team practice their verbal skills to ensure they are comfortable.
We all know that quality Dentistry is an investment that patients need to be comfortable with, so why avoid the topic of fees? I’m not saying that you should post a list of prices on your website – after all, we want patients to understand there is more involved than just the dollar value. I believe that along with having your team understand your fee structure, you can encourage your team to be proud of and transparent about cost and the care and service your practice provides.
You can also use this transparency to promote your practice by adding information to your website and social media about how your fees reflect the value your patients receive by choosing your practice for their dental needs. Patients will value the information about why they are paying the amount of money, what they get for it now and in the long term, and how they can protect their investment through regular active maintenance.
EXAMPLE OF VERBALS
Use these verbals below as a guide to patient conversations; edit as you need according to your practice policies and language style. Remember, it’s more important that everyone understands the points to make and the end goal than reading a script verbatim.
If a patient comments on how expensive your treatment is:
- “Yes, unfortunately, dentistry is expensive across the board. We know we’re not the cheapest practice, and we’re not the most expensive. We are confident that our fees are a good reflection of the quality of care and service we give our patients.”
- “Yes, dentistry is expensive. We believe our fees are a fair reflection of the quality of our care and service. We understand that everyone has different priorities, though, and I’d be happy to discuss our payment options with you if you’d like, or look at how we can stagger your treatment?”
- “It sounds like you would like to proceed with the treatment and the immediate cost is a barrier to that – would it be helpful if I told you about our payment options?”
If a patient says they want their x-rays to shop around and compare prices:
- “It’s always a good idea to call around and compare prices; you definitely want to feel comfortable with your investment. Like in any profession, the care and service differ from practice to practice, and the fees reflect this. Technically skilled clinicians and support staff, and ensuring patient and staff safety through correct infection prevention does tend to result in more expensive treatment. We understand this is an investment that people must choose depending on their immediate priorities.”
- “We can absolutely forward your records to another Dentist so that you can get another opinion; we understand you need to feel comfortable with your treatment cost. It can be tricky to compare apples with apples, so consider the products they use, the amount of time they will take with you, their post-operative care and whether they are quoting for every item you’ll need to complete treatment.”
If a patient asks for a discount because they require treatments:
- “As a rule, the practice doesn’t offer discounts as it can compromise the value of the care that we can provide you, we can certainly look at restructuring the appointments to spread the cost, or we could discuss our payment options.”
The key to uncomfortable conversations is to approach them confidently. Equipping your team with the training and tools provided in this guide will set them well on their path to successfully discussing the cost of dentistry!
If you enjoyed this article you may be interested to learn more about Primespeak. If you haven’t already heard about Primespeak, this world class program will help you enhance the patient experience, increase case acceptance and improve patient retention. We think every clinician and Dental Assistant should attend this course at least once in their career, though many attend multiple times! Learn more about Primespeak full-day workshop here.