The Quick Short Buck Or The Long Slow Buck? You Choose….

Dentistry is a really weird business.

Yes really.

Because, as a business owner, you can have two types of businesses in dentistry.

And with that, there are usually two types of customers.

So you get to choose.

You get to choose which type of business you want to be operating.

You get to choose which sandpit you want to be playing in.

Here’s my take on it.

There’s the quick buck and there’s the slow buck.

The quick buck is here today and gone tomorrow.

The slow buck is here today….and it is here next year, and the year after, and the year after, and the year after.

Which sort of businesses of these two models do you think would be more sustainable?

In 1987 when I bought my dental practice I decided I wanted a long term sustainable business.

I wanted a business with regular clients who returned year in and year out and were loyal to me and my dental practice no matter what…

And were happy to have all treatment that they needed, as it was diagnosed, because of their undying trust and belief in me….

And that’s the business I built.

In the next twenty-eight years I took that dental office from a turnover of $140K pa in 1987 to a turnover of $3.6M in 2011.


That office grew from a team of me plus one to a team of me plus several, including two other full time dentists, three other part time dentists, three hygienists and seven full time auxiliary staff and two other part time staff.

The business grew from one operatory to seven operatories over two locations.

The model was simple.

Look for the long tail.

Don’t look for the quick buck.

Look for the long-term patient.

Build a relationship.

Build trust and you will build a business.

A trusting customer returns and spends again. And again. And again.

If you only look for the quick buck then you are always going to be looking for a replacement customer for the one you have just served.

“What sort of treatments did you focus on David?”

I was always looking for the long term motivated customer.

I was always looking for the patient who wanted to do what it takes to keep their teeth, NO MATTER WHAT, and were willing to commit to that chosen path.

This meant regular hygiene visits for them.

We always encouraged our patients RELIGIOUSLY to schedule and see our dental hygienists without fail through hell and high water no matter what.

This showed our patients that we were interested in their long term with regards to their mouth. We wanted our patients to know that a solid foundation was necessary for long term dental health, and that that foundation begins with the dental hygienist.

In fact, as a dentist, I WAS NOT interested in seeing people who would NOT commit to the hygienist.

What was the point of that I thought?

Why would they try to even pretend they were committed to dental health if they were not committed to a regimen of regular and necessary dental hygienist visits?

“What sort of visits did you NOT focus on David?”

Any visits or patients that “smelled” like a one-time-only type of treatment were not what I was seeking for my practice.

There was no way I ever wanted my dental office to be seen as a “convenience” or worse still, a “commodity” within my community.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I was always happy to provide EXCELLENT service to single visit patients.

But I never was in the business of encouraging “Price Competition” for business.


When I visited the USA last June this phrase was the cliché of the month… was everywhere.

And really, it is appropriate in this situation.

My fees for all procedures were set way in advance of daily catastrophes and fluctuations.

I never discounted my fees. I know some dentists who openly discount their fees to patients without ever being ASKED for a discount.

And I know other dentists who wilt like a dehydrated lily and concede a discount to every patient that even questions their fee.

In both these cases discounting cheapens the service. It says to the patient, and to your team, three things:

  • Firstly, it tells the patients and your team that you believe your own fees are too high.
  • Secondly, it tells the patient and your team that if you could get away with it, you would charge this higher fee.
  • And thirdly, it tells the patients and your team that you yourself do not see value in your own fees.

All discounting does is cheapen you, and the profession.

I was never a big fan of chasing the latest fads….

Whitening? That’s a fad.

Orthodontic aligners? That’s a fad.

The problem with attracting whitening patients and Orthodontic aligners patients is that they are very much wanting a one-stop process.

The patients don’t stick.

They are in and they are out.

And off to the next quick fix…..

It’s sad but true.

Very true.

Take a look at your books and ask yourself this question?

Did all, or any of those whitening and Orthodontic aligners patients bother to stay around for hygiene or for long term restorative, AFTER you finished their initial treatment offer?

Offering whitening and Orthodontic aligners to your existing patients is certainly an option. But in hindsight, using these services to attract new patients only served as “fire sale” material when we looked at total collections in my dental office.

When you offer these two products as a means of attracting new business in your dental office, you soon end up in a price war with your fellow dentists in an effort to create a competitive edge….and being the biggest discounter, or the cheapest dentist, is not a very good business strategy.

There’s Always A Customer Who Is Looking For Great Service

Provided you can deliver consistent great service there is always going to be a client or customer who is happy to pay your prices and does not care at all about what your competition is doing or charging, because to them [your customer] you represent excellence.

And these types of customers make up between 20-25% of the population.

Whether we are talking lawn mowing, pool cleaning, hairdressing or restaurants, there will always be 20-25% of the population who are loyal to their service provider and do not care what the opposition is charging.

The problem is, some businesses are not confident or happy to be playing in a pool where only 20% of the population is. Those businesses feel more comfortable fighting it out for a thin slice, or a scrap, of the larger competitive price conscious market.

Because those businesses are worried about volume.

And they confuse activity with achievement and accomplishment.

There is no point being busy doing unprofitable things.

That’s a tough life to lead.


My next public speaking presentation showing Dentists how to grow their Dental practices will be in Dallas Texas on Friday November 3 2017 with Jayne Bandy.

For more information and to secure your seat click this link here.

I will also be presenting at a Symposium on growing your Dental Practice in 2018 in Sydney Australia on Saturday December 2 2017 with leading experts Kinnar Shah, Angus Pryor, Jayne Bandy and Toni Surace .

For more information and to secure your seat click this link here.


Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days.

You can order your copy here: Click Link To Order


The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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