The commonly accepted definition of “recession” in economics is two down quarters of gross domestic product. Nobody living in this economy could put it so dispassionately. These are stressful times, with days of worry and nights of sleeplessness taking a physical and mental toll on everyone. In the headlines, we’re in a recession. In the strain we feel in our hearts and minds, we’re depressed.
Recent articles in Time and The New York Times discussed this downturn from an unusual point of view: the dentist’s. They said that some dentists are seeing a shift in their patients’ interest away from discretionary cosmetic procedures and toward maintenance and repair; others are witnessing new interest in cosmetic procedures from patients eager to present themselves at their best for job interviews. Many dentists say they’re seeing a rush of patients using insurance benefits before they lose them in another wave of layoffs; they see many others who have deferred basic care until a problem becomes too serious to neglect - a false economy at best. Finally, it seems there are widespread new cases of bruxism. That’s not surprising - the news has all of us grinding our teeth.
Beyond the Procedure
If you can give me that over and above the procedure you perform, you’ve performed a service greater than just the literal one. And you’ve earned my confidence. In this difficult economy, that’s a great way for you to cement a relationship.
A little enlightenment from you could make a big difference for me. One of the worst things about this economy is the uncertainty that haunts us day and night. Anything that makes us feel just a little more in control of things is a godsend in a time when we feel helpless against layoffs, downturns, and another dip in the Dow. Of course, I know I won’t find “personal counseling” on the bill I get from you, but a moment of insight and empathy might be what I value most from you on the day we meet. Your patients aren’t asking you to be psychologists. However, if you can be an emotional resource, you’re a better investment than the dentist who settles for being a repair person. Getting more back for the dollar is on everyone’s mind these days. You can win my loyalty even when I’m bargain hunting and deferring the high-end treatment until things improve. When they do, and I want those veneers after all, you’ll be the dentist I call.
On behalf of McKenzie Management, David Clow consults with dental professionals on practice culture, case acceptance, and patient expectations.
David Clow is a writer/consultant for Fortune 100 companies. His book, A Few Words from the Chair, is the first book written by a patient for dental professionals and students and is available here.
Hear David Clow’s FREE podcast at The Dentist’s Network – HERE
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