£70 or £90 for a filling? What’s the difference besides 20 quid?

Recently I was involved in a conversation between a principal and an associate where the associate wanted to lower the 30 minute (private) composite filling fee from £90 to £70, his rationale being that he would upsell many more private composite fillings to his NHS patients.

Fair enough you might think, surely selling more of them is good.

Yeah, but let’s have a look at the maths: Say he currently does three per day, five days per week, 46 weeks per year. That’s an annual gross of £62,100. If the fee gets cut to £70 and he does the same number, that’s an annual gross of £48,300, a reduction in gross per annum of £13,800.

Meaning this dentist would have to do another 197 fillings per year just to match his gross (that’s another one filling a day and another 30 minutes when he could be doing something else!).

So he’d have to upsell another 197 fillings per year and then spend another 98 hours per year (or 13 days) doing them, just to stand still. Is he mad or is it just me?

Let’s interrogate his thinking. He’s unlikely to have much evidence to support his assertion that more folk would buy a private filling at £70 rather than £90. In his mind reducing the fee would have more patients saying yes but in my experience the £20 discount is unlikely to make any difference to patients saying yes to his offer.

The behaviour that will make a lot more difference to his treatment uptake is the way that he makes the offer to his patients. For example, instead of saying something like, “Mrs Jones, would you prefer a white filling in that tooth, it’s £90 (£70)?”, a more effective conversation would be something like:

“Mrs Jones, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a choice of restorations that I can fix your tooth with. I can make you a tooth coloured inlay, which will be bonded to the tooth, looks like a natural tooth and helps make the tooth stronger. It’s a long term restoration and the fee is £330. Or I can place a filling which matches the colour of your teeth. It doesn’t last quite so long and it’s harder to make it look like a natural tooth, however it’s a lot more aesthetic than a silver and mercury filling and the fee for that is £90. Or I can replace your silver and mercury filling with another one. If you were my mum I would recommend the tooth coloured filling. What would you like me to do?”

The moral of the story is simple. First, don’t cut your fees before doing the maths and, secondly, make sure that all your clinicians have great communication skills in offering patients choices in their treatment.

If you would like some help with this, call me for a chat.

m. 07770 430576

e. simon.hocken@breathebusiness.co.uk


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