Don’t You Dare Discount!

By September 23, 2015Blog
  • $59 exam, X-rays and cleaning (A $350 total value!)
  • $460 for deep cleaning for deep pockets (Valued at $1,426!)
  • 40% off all dental services for the month of December!

No! No! No! Absolutely no discounting dental services.

Here’s why discounts don’t belong in your marketing plan…

You are an expert in your field who has been trained to deliver top-notch dental care. When a practice lowers its fees, it diminishes the value of the dentist’s expertise. If the value of a standard visit is $350 or the value of a deep cleaning is $1,426, then that is the value. Value never fluctuates. Therefore, fees shall never fluctuate.

Plus, bargain-shoppers will never be willing to pay your premium. From the start, discounts condition new patients to always expect low fees. It is very difficult, and impossible in many cases, to transition a discount patient into a regular paying one. Discounts simply don’t attract the quality, life-long patients that will really serve the practice for the long-term.

Thirdly, discounting may not abide with American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines or the law. The ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct reads, “Although any dentist may advertise, no dentist shall advertise or solicit patients in any form of communication in a manner that is false or misleading in any material respect.” Whenever discounts are offered, the door is open for possible falsification or misleading.

The text goes on to say, “The fee for a patient without dental benefits shall be considered a dentist’s full fee. This is the fee that should be represented to all benefit carriers regardless of any negotiated fee discount.” Beyond that, discounting insurance-paid services may be illegal in some states.

Potentially the worst of discounting is running a “social coupon” like on Groupon or LivingSocial, which may put the practice in jeopardy of splitting fees in the eyes of the ADA. The text confirms, “The prohibition against a dentist’s accepting or tendering rebates or split fees applies to business dealings between dentists and any third party, not just other dentists. The prohibition against fee splitting is also applicable to the marketing of dental treatments or procedures via ‘social coupons’…” The guide goes on to stipulate specific criteria for social coupons that would fall under splitting fees.

Lastly, the healthiest of dental practices never discount services because while that approach may cause a temporary uptick in top-line production, it will never translate into practice profitability. The lasting practice is consistently profitable.

Rather than a discount, put a value-add object in the patients’ hands, something unrelated to fees or services:

  • Free whitening trays
  • A complimentary Sonicare toothbrush
  • Free guide: Helping your Child Learn Excellent Dental Hygiene Habits

This approach, instead of discounting, will go a long way in attracting and keeping the very best patients in the practice, and in preserving profitability.