Thursday, December 1, 2011


An article in the LA Times about the declining revenues for dentists caught my attention.  The article is about the new marketing efforts of dentists who are seeing their profits drop as patients are skipping cleanings, fillings and other dental work.

Their response is to seek new marketing strategies.  They are paying marketing consultants to tell them about social media, upgrade their websites and even to add spa like amenities to their practices.

That's why Vines hired Steffany Mohan, a fellow dentist and marketing consultant who says that keeping patients satisfied is as important as persuading them to walk through the door.

Mohan emphasizes personal service: Dentists should offer sedation to patients nervous about pain, and make dental care feel like a trip to the spa with amenities such as scented neck wraps, moisturizing lotions, heated massage pads and video screens mounted on the ceiling above dental chairs.

"People don't necessarily remember what you said or did, but they'll remember how you made them feel," Mohan said. "We're going for giving them an experience they'll remember so they won't go anywhere else."

Vines said he expects to spend $35,000 to $50,000 over the next year on Mohan's marketing strategies.
Okay.  The economy has tanked, 10% of the population is unemployed, even more are underemployed.  Companies are cutting benefits right and left and we all know that having dental insurance is pretty much a joke because , beyond a couple of x-rays and cleanings, the cost of any procedure is prohibitively expensive. 
I have had a broken crown for 3 years.  I finally had a job with benefits and opted for the dental so I could get it fixed.  The difference in cost with $100.00 a month insurance and no insurance?  I would "save" $435. on the crown, making my out of pocket cost $600.00 for the insurance and $985.00 for the crown.  The crown, by the way that the same dentist supplied me about 7 years ago.  I still have a broken crown and am cancelling the insurance in January.
My experience is that dentists are big on price fixing.  Have you ever called around to see if you can get the services for less?  Don't bother. 
If my business was losing revenue, I might look at my pricing, my hours (our dentist was closed on Friday, closed for a week at Thanksgiving and 2 weeks at Christmas - making it impossible for my college kids to see her when they were home.  We now have a new dentist) and better financing options for my patients.  Hey, how about some evening  or weekend hours so people don't have to skip work to have an appointment?  How about offering some kind of discount to people without insurance who are paying cash? 
Personally I would not be soothed by warm scented towels, I would be wondering how much the damned thing was costing me.


hokgardner said...


Lisa said...

I cannot tell you how much I love this post. Nate is wearing braces that we can't afford to have taken off. The orthodontist will only provide emergency treatment because we can't pay our bills. When I asked them to lower our payments and spread them out, they refused.

I finally went for a cleaning to use up my allotted dental insurance (1 standard visit per year). The hygienist told me that their numbers are way down because they know people are skipping dental care due to messed up economy.

Bryan Bauer said...

Your crown only lasted 4 years? You said it was 7 years old and was broken for 3 so I am assuming that. What kind of dentist did you go to? I have never met any dentist that wouldn't replace a broken crown for free in 5 years or less.

I read your blog with interest. Although my practice has been having huge gains throughout the downturn utilizing many of the marketing things the article recommended. I think we primarily did it by making our patients lives more convenient. We offered more and longer payment plans. We opened earlier to catch the before work crowd and worked more hours when kids are home from college. We opened Fridays and opened Saturdays during the school year for kids. We try to do all the dentistry under one roof so families don't have to run to a bunch of different places.

To those interested in the costs of dentistry you can go to fair consumer health .org and get a really close idea for your zip code. The fee will be close for most offices but you do get what you pay for in dentistry (unless you go to a dental school they are usually pretty good and cheap but it takes a lot of extra time and visits)