Here’s Why You Should Never Discount Your Fees.

From time to time the dental world turns its attention towards the topic of discounting the dentistry that dentists do.

For patients.

And I find this a really weird and unnecessary topic.

Why the heck, once you’ve set your fees for your Dental Office, do you need to adjust them downwards?


I can’t see one logical reason for doing so.

And I see so many illogical reasons for trying to justify this stupid human weakness in behaviour.

Here’s my take:

I stopped discounting my fees pretty well the day I bought and began owning my own practice.

In January 1987.

And as you know, the rest is history.

From 1987 to 2007 and then onwards to 2014, I built a high fee, high collection dental practice in working class western Sydney by offering exemplary care and service.

With no discounts.

To average, everyday people.

And I was adamant that the word “discount” and the word “dentistry” should never be used together, or ever be used in the same sentence.

Some will say, “why do you need to charge such high prices?”

Some will say, “why are your fees so high?”

And I will say:

“Why are your fees so low?”

After five to seven years of University education, why are you working at an hourly rate lower than a roofer or a plumber?

Because after that length of time, you’re in debt.

Student debt.

And you’re trying to repay it.

Debts up to a quarter of a million dollars!!!

And you then start to discount your fees?

You start giving money away?


And then there are practice loans.

And set up costs…

Surely your fees for your services should reflect your bank and finance interest rates?

When I bought my practice in 1987, the interest rates on my business loans were 20%, but they soon rose to be as high as 28.5% at the height of the “recession we had to have”.

Oh glory days!

“Take me back to the good old days”, said no-one ever.

And sure some will say you can work a longer career and still make the same money in the end.

But what if you cannot?

What if you get touched on the head with the arthritis stick or the cancer stick and your career is cut short?

What if you have to cut back your clinical time to care for a sick spouse, parent, or child?

All those supposedly needy people who you discounted your fees to won’t be reaching into their pockets to help you out and help your family out at this time of need.

As I gently kept increasing my fees to keep up with the high inflation rates we experienced, I was surprised at how many patients still kept coming to my practice, despite me having significantly higher fees than my neighbouring dentists.

And they still kept coming, despite having to compete with two multi-chair, multi-dentist health fund clinics located within 500 metres walk from my practice.

Whenever a patient asked why other dentists charged lower fees than I did I simply looked the patient in the eye and said:

“Every dentist knows what his work is worth…”

Nowadays, as a consultant, I see dentists offering discounts to patients without even being asked for the discount.

And I don’t know why that is?

Sometimes the patients that get the discounts do not need the discounts.

They live well, eat well and vacation well…

Do you know whether they are truly needy?

Sometimes they might blow your generosity on tattoos, cigarettes, alcohol and pokies?

Who knows?

I did not know…

Now, don’t get me wrong….

I am not a heartless capitalist.

During my career I happily made healthy donations to charities supporting cancer research, homelessness, and mental health issues.

Along with donations to the ATO and the OSR as well.

But I knew “the value of a quid” and I wanted to make sure I maintained respect for that value.

And I did that by not giving money away to any Tom, Dick, or Harry who just happened to have a dental issue….

So let’s do the math:

If you discount $5.00 per patient…

With twenty patients that’s $100.00 per day…

Which becomes $500.00 per week

Which becomes $25,000.00 in a year…

Which ends up being $1,000,000.00 over a lifetime…

Even if you used that $25,000.00 per year to employ one extra person in your office to create greater efficiencies, or to create better service for your patients, your ROI on that twenty five thousand would more than probably be 5:1 or another $5,000,000.00 in collections over your working lifetime…

[based on the principle that practice salaries are twenty percent of collections].

And you could be a lot more benevolent with that income than with the original $5.00 per patient…


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