Looking Beyond the Good Deal for the Best Deal on Dental Work

by Adam Smith

dental health

If you are looking to save money on dentistry, your mailbox is probably not the first place you should look.

We have all seen them. In fact, you have probably seen multiple in the last week. I am talking about the dental advertisements. They are all pretty similar in content.

Free exam and X-Rays“, “$39 cleaning exam and X-Ray” or “$100 gift card for new patients with completion of new patient visit“.

Do any of these sound familiar? As you are bombarded by many of the dental offices in town you are likely confused as to which of these is the best deal.

My answer for you, as someone who has worked in the dental industry for several years is, none of them.

Dental Marketing is Expensive

The first thing that we should all be aware of, is that marketing for dentists is VERY expensive. When someone is sending out multiple mailings per month, you can guess that they are spending thousands of dollars in marketing per month.

As a financial consultant to several dentists, I have personally seen offices spending over $20,000 per month on marketing. Add to the thousands of dollars spent, the fact that they are offering a discount to the new patient and you have a recipe for losing money on a patient’s first visit. Because the office is losing money on the patient’s first visit, they have two options to become profitable on that patient.

The first, and most ideal scenario would be taking excellent care of the patient and hoping that they continue coming to your practice long term. The return on marketing investment in this scenario is typically six months to a year, which makes this an uncommon scenario.

The reason this is such an uncommon scenario is because if you are sinking thousands of dollars per month into marketing without making money on the new patients, you could very well be running at a loss for six to nine months. Most dentists would bail on the marketing after the first couple months of losing money which would put them back into the category that you don’t see in your mailbox.

The second scenario, and by far the most common scenario, is getting the patient into the practice and aggressively diagnosing thousands of dollars of dental work which may or may not be necessary.

The patient comes back in one to two weeks later and the dentist is almost immediately profitable on that patient. Is this even legal? The answer unfortunately, is yes. To understand how this is legal we need to understand that there is a gray area in dentistry.

Some things are cut and dry, but other things have multiple options that could fix the problem. Someone who diagnoses more aggressively will generally err on the expensive side of the gray area, while someone who is less aggressive will err on the less expensive side of the gray area.

Skip the Mailbox

If you are trying to save money on dentistry, you are obviously looking for the latter. My advice to anyone looking to save money on dentistry is to skip the mailbox.

Here is a little secret that most dentists don’t want you to know, all dentists want more new patients and the dental industry is very competitive.

Here is a plan to get the good deal, but skip the office that spent thousands of dollars on marketing. Find an office with good reviews online who does not regularly send out marketing. Call that office and ask them if they are willing to do the same deal that the other office is offering. You will be surprised at the number of offices who are willing to match the advertisement. Now you are getting a good deal from someone who is not accustomed to erring on the inexpensive side of gray and who has great reviews online.

Let me clarify that I am not claiming that everyone who sends out marketing is overly aggressive, just that as a rule of thumb you are much more likely to find someone who is aggressively diagnosing through advertising.

I am also not suggesting that everyone who is not advertising is diagnosing more conservatively, just that there is less pressure to diagnose aggressively when you didn’t pay several hundred dollars to get the patient into your office.

This method for getting a good deal is by no means fool proof. However, it will put the odds of getting a good deal in your favor.

(Adam Smith has worked as a dental consultant for three years and is currently the office manager at www.oxforddentalidahofalls.com .)

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