“Doc, that’s a lot of money. Can you knock that price down a little?”
I hate this.
We walk into car dealerships ready for battle. We feel that the prices have already been marked up and w’re looking to duke it out for the best deal. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have a mildly to severely contentious relationship with car dealers. We are consumers: we hate to pay too much for something when we can get the same thing for less by arguing the price down or going somewhere else.
I know some dentists who will routinely negotiate their fees with patients and they have no problem doing it. “You’ve got to be able to negotiate if you want to get the case done,” they’ll say in defense. I’ve written before about the consumerization of patients and what it means for dentistry. I think that negotiating fees contributes to turning our services into interchangeable commodities.
If a patient has genuine concerns about finances, then I’m happy to offer payment plans or Care Credit. I understand that dentistry can be an unanticipated expense and the patient may not have the budget for their necessary work. But this is different from the consumerized patient.
Here’s what I do when I encounter one of these negotiators in my practice. I’ll offer an additional product or service at little or no added cost. I add value to the existing treatment plan.
Let’s say a patient is facing some major major crown/bridge/implant work. I’ll give the patient a discounted Sonicare toothbrush or perhaps a free night guard. I’m satisfying the patient’s desire to get more without sacrificing the integrity of my services.