Is Dentistry Changing in the Eyes of the Public? How to Avoid Joining in the Race to the Bottom

Is it just me or is dentistry changing in the eyes of the public?

This month, what with travel for seminars, conferences and concerts, my three days per week for 4 weeks has seen me treat patients on only half that number of days.

So you’d think that appointments with me this month would be quite valuable, right?
To the contrary…..

For instance, in this week I’ve worked only one day available before venturing off overseas for some education. So really there’s now four weeks or so before my next appointments and my book looks pretty darn full for a few weeks when I get back.

But then yesterday, not one but two Gen Zers just went ahead and pulled out of significant appointments for this week, that they’d had reserved just for them for some time, with zero notice! Without a care! As if it were simply water off a duck’s back!

Which kind of got me thinking, on two planes….

Firstly, I started thinking about dental manpower. In particular, the plight of the contractor assistant dentist. Now if I were working as an assistant dentist, not in my own business, why should I not demand payment for my time for just being there and sitting around?

Now I’m talking on behalf of all assistant dentists here. And this is tough, because I’ve been a self-employed business owner for over twenty-six years…but bear with me…

What are assistant dentists that get purely compensated on commission for treatment performed doing to alleviate and prevent this injustice moving forward? Think about it…where else, in any other career or trade, would a five to seven year university trained skilled professional in a high stress industry allow themselves to be booked and billed out by practice owners to sit around waiting some times, without being compensated for that time? Sitting around for $0.00 per hour, waiting for someone to walk in the door? In somebody else’s business? Seems ludicrous…

I’ve been there, on the flip side, as an owner employing, and I can honestly say, it’s a ridiculous scenario that assistant dentists have allowed themselves to have been built, with the passage of time, around them…

 

Which brings me to my second point, as a business owner. As a skilled and even more highly educated and trained professional, what is it that these days is allowing the public to treat us like tree loppers or drain fixers whose flyers and leaflets are constantly filling our home letterboxes to overflowing? Because that’s what it seems like to me. There just seems to be this growing lack of respect from the community for the services of dentistry as if it were now just simply a commodity.

I’m feeling this more and more as new patient after new patient turns up with an acutely painful broken down tooth in a mouth that politely could really only be called a disaster area and asks simply “What’s the cheapest?” when questioned as to what they’d like to do to get them out of this unbearable discomfort.

If I were the cable guy, people would sit around for hours waiting for me to possibly turn up at a time that suits me, the cable guy. But as a fixed location dental office, I’m getting the feeling that more and more of the public are starting to treat dentistry as if it were a 24/7 convenience store that they just pop into to pick up the milk when it suits them…

What do you think?

I’m thinking, that down here in Australia, this public perception has been caused by two, possibly three, significant factors.

Firstly, the recently implemented and then more recently disbanded federal government funded no means tested scheme for paying for dental treatment for medically challenged members of the public has had an immediate effect of letting the whole population start to think of dentistry as “Well, what can I get for free?” although technically, it’s not free…

And secondly, the recent dramatic increase in the number of dentists registered to practice has made dentistry more than ever appear to the general public, to be a commodity. Recent numbers I’ve heard is that in 2012 we have twenty seven percent more dentists registered than we did in 2009, primarily as a result of increasing new graduates and overseas trained dentists entering the marketplace. This increase and continuing increase in available dental manpower will only fuel the public perception of dentistry as a convenience or a commodity, and not as a service, or luxury service to be valued.

Thirdly, on top of this, there is also a growing push by insurers into the dental services marketplace, as either owners of dental offices, or providers of dental services, or simply as concocters of dental plans for the public…

The times they are a changing, as Bob Dylan wrote…

What this means to you out there, Mr. Dentist, is that to succeed in Dentistry as a Business you need to make your Office, your Business stand out from the crowd, so that when it comes time for the public to seek dental services, it’s simply a matter of them knowing that yours is the Best Darn Dental Office in the Whole of Town!!

And remember this, you haven’t spent a whole lot of years and a whole lot of money going through dental school, and then more years and more money and even more heart muscle and stomach lining to build a dental practice, just for the ignorant public to perceive you as just another commodity provider, like some retail outlet, for them to chew up, spit out and haggle with…

So take action! Take action today!

Ignore this, and you’ll find that you’ll just be joining all the other businesses out there in a race to the bottom…. A race not worth winning, a race not worth entering…

 

“How to Consistently Exceed Your Customers’ Expectations” and “How to Prevent Your Dental Office Being Caught In A Race To The Bottom” are just two of the many straight forward chapters that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report. Email me at david@theupe.com

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