If you sell anything for a living, use this as a model of how not to run a business.
My wife wanted to find a dentist for us. We have not been to one since we moved to Georgia in 2008. checked with Angie’s list. She said this dentist’s office had high ratings. I don’t understand how.
I went for my appointment. The building was very nice. Large. Brick. The interior welcome was large and even a bit elegant. It had lots of wasted space. Yellow alert! Someone has to pay for this. Me!
There were three or four nicely dressed women standing around. They were clearly employees. It was 8:30 a.m. I was the only visible customer. Never, ever let a customer see employees standing around. Put them in a room in the rear, if necessary, but don’t have them standing around. This screams “waste!”
I filled out the usual forms. Did I have any problems? No. Well, yes: the traditional wife with a calendar issue. “You haven’t been to a dentist in 8 years. You’ve got to go to the dentist. I’ll set up the appointment. You won’t have to do anything except show up.”
I have had 3 cavities in 64 years of adult teeth, all before age 35. I have a plaque issue. So what? I have a split back molar. I have had it since 1999. So what?
My teeth have caused me no problems, other than being crooked. So, I don’t go to dentists often.
After 10 minutes, I was called. Why did it take so long, with all those women standing around?
The lady was nice. She did the x-rays. She was thorough.
Finally, a dentist came in. He looked like a 30-year-old out of the late 1960s. He had scraggly hair down over his ears. This was a clear signal: “I don’t abide with middle-class values.” This is unwise for any professional or any salesman. The person with something to sell on a repeat basis should not deliberately adopt an appearance that announces a break from the lifestyle of the people whose money he is seeking.
He did not have the same last name as the clinic had. So, he was probably a hired dentist. Someone in charge deliberately kept him on the payroll, hair over his ears. This said: “The owner is not minding the store.”
Anyway, he was clearly a salesman. His demeanor said “used car salesman,” except that used car salesmen get better haircuts.
He looked at the x-rays. He rattled off a list of bad teeth to the assistant: “18-crown. 13-crown.” I think there was a third. I could almost hear the cash register sound of my youth — the ka-ching sound that Quicken still uses for deposits.
He briefly explained why I needed these procedures. I might lose my teeth if I did not get this done. He offered no cause-and-effect explanation.
This was a demb selling strategy. He could see that my teeth were in good condition. If they weren’t, he should have spent time explaining my problems and offering asvice — such as flossing — that would help me deal with them. But no. It was money that would solve my problems, and he clearly wanted a lot of it.
He was selling to a skeptic. I do not go to dentists. Do not try to sell thousands of dollars worth of services to someone who has clearly not been willing to payy a dime to anyone in your field. Recognize that it will take time to separate him from his money. This is common sense. The dentist was devoid of common sense.
I have never lost a tooth. I have never had a toothache. This guy wanted me to believe that if I don’t put a crown on a chipped tooth, I might lose it, and two more to boot. I wasn’t buying it. From this guy, I would not have bought a used car, let alone a dental procedure.
I had come in only for a cleaning. He told me that I would need a local anesthetic to have my teeth cleaned. No explanation. He said I could schedule it.
I said the magic words: “How much will this cost?” He would not say. “I’ll have it estimated.” He walked out. I never saw him again.
The assistant said: “You don’t have insurance. There will be a discount.”
I got it! Price discrimination. “Different strokes for different folks.” Economists hate price discrimination, especially in health care. Why? Because it always involves government intervention to maintain it: restrictions on entry. I had first read about this in 1960 in an article titled “Price Discrimination in Medicine.” She was talking to the wrong customer.
Then there was this question: Why would I need a discount? For a procedure that normally costs $85?
They both left. I sat. And sat. Where was the estimation lady? I got up wandered into the hall, looking for my wife, who was also getting her teeth cleaned. I went back to the room. I sat. And sat. Finally, I went to the billing desk. The woman had the papers. She began: “Normally, this procedure costs $950.”
I stopped her. “I am not interested.” She started to tell me about the discount. “I am not going to do this.” I no doubt made my displeasure clear. This was not for effect.
Rule: When the opening bid is $950 for an $85 procedure, get out. Fast.
As I said, the outfit bills insurance companies more. How much more? I later found out from my wife. Over double.
I went to the room where my wife was in the chair. “I am not going through with this. You make your own decision.”
I left. She could pay my bill.
Later, the billing lady told her it would have been “only” $400. This information from my wife sent a message to me: “We over-bill insurance companies as a normal practice.” I regard this practice as immoral. It raises health care insurance premiums.
If you want to know what I did next, click the link. It will take you to my site.