An Old Nissan, Five Dollars and Your Dental Practice

“Here’s the scoop,” writes futurist, marketer, speaker, CMO and frequent blogger Greg Verdino in a post at his blog. “I drive a Nissan Altima and I’ve been reasonably happy with it. It’s neither the best car I’ve ever owned nor the worst, but I’m not a car guy so if it gets me from point A to point B safely without costing me an arm and a leg in gas money I’m satisfied. The Altima more than fits the bill.”

This may not be the world’s greatest endorsement, but it is most likely representative of how many Nissan owners feel about their cars – it’s not amazing but it certainly works well. Like it or not, this also may be how many (or most) of your patients feel about your practice. Let’s keep going here.

One morning Greg realized that his $315 lease payment was due THAT DAY! “Luckily,” he recalled, “Nissan offers an online payment option—so I logged onto their site and authorized an electronic deduction from my checking account.” The catch? Nissan charged a $5 fee for the convenience, and even more for using a credit card.

Here is Verdino’s take on the situation.

“In terms of dollars and cents this charge may be smart business. But in terms of perception and sense, I’m not so sure. Like I said, I’m a pretty happy Nissan driver but this morning I’m pretty annoyed with Nissan as a company. Even a minor inconvenience (in the form, ironically, of a convenience charge) takes its toll on how I feel about the brand itself and my experience as a customer. So much so that I’d not consider trading in and trading up to another Nissan when the time comes? Maybe. I’m not sure. But if that were to happen, wouldn’t the lifetime cost to the company (in the form of lost opportunity and lost business) outweigh the near term $5 windfall?”

Customers (and patients) expect to be rewarded for doing things right – not penalized. Nissan’s accounting department made a decision that the customer service department may feel is horrible! The explanation? What is comes down to is basically – “Sorry – that’s our policy!”

So how about your dental office? Do you have any procedures or policies that may make sense financially or even clinically – but could be turning off your patients?

Here’s a classic. Say this loudly in your best snooty tone.

“In OUR office, no new patients can get a cleaning on their first visit. They must be examined by the doctor and then reappointed.”

Is that the ideal way to do it from a purely clinical standpoint? Most likely. But how about from the potential new patient’s perception of how they would like to be treated? Is it convenient for them? Does it make sense? Is it making them jump through an unnecessary hoop to become a patient in your practice? Absolutely!

How many policies or standards do you have that may be 100% correct but are turning off your current patients or cutting off new patient flow? Probably more than you think! Even something that appears to be a nice service (i.e. offering “in-house” financing) can turn patients off when it comes time to make that collection call – and they most likely will stop coming in and certainly won’t refer their friends.

So take a few hours to brainstorm with your team things that you are doing, big or small, that may be “right” theoretically but in practical terms are turning off your patients. Remember – next time you see Greg Verdino he will be driving a Toyota!!

Special treat: If you are not seeing as many new patients as you would like – chances are you are doing many of the same things that Nissan did to Greg. Our new program will help you figure out how to eliminate them and increase your production like crazy! Check it out by clicking here!

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