7.27.07 - Issue # 281 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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To Sell or Not to Sell

To sell or not to sell. This is the question when it comes to “products to patients” in your practice.  As with many things in dentistry, this is not a black and white answer. There are gray areas that will need to be decided and looked into before making this decision.

Selling ancillary products such as toothbrushes, fluoride home gels, rinses, or toothpaste can mean a considerable profit. However, it is not the right answer for every practice. Determining if your practice should sell ancillary products should be evaluated before investing into the inventory that will need to be kept within your office.

Do you and your team believe in the products? Do you believe that the products you may want to provide to patients will benefit your patients? Will you, your staff, and your patients be completely satisfied with the clinical results? Will those results be what you are expecting? If not, you may not want to sell this particular product and continue looking for a product that will.

This does not have to be love at first sight. Once you have decided that you are going to sell a particular product, give it a test drive. Only order a small quantity to start out. See how the product moves and if patients are compliant with the product. If the product is sitting on the shelf and not moving, first evaluate if the staff needs more training on the benefits to the patient. You know the uninformed, or inexperienced will more than likely pull back and rebuff any new idea. This is also a good time to ask the team for feedback about the product. However, Doctor, it is your decision.  If this is a product you believe in, then the team will need to come onboard with you. Asking the team if they want to sell product, chair side, is not recommended. The doctor may want to ask for input on different products that the team has had experience with in the past or have learned about at conventions or seminars.

It is important to have the entire team onboard when it comes to selling ancillary products and this is best accomplished by making sure they have education on the products. Many companies are more than happy to provide information on their product. Some companies will even have their sales person into your office to do a presentation for the entire team and even provide continuing education units for the team also.

The clinical team also needs to know that product sales can do more than help pay overhead. A commission structure in which the clinical team receives a percentage of what they sell can be structured.  Another point to consider is allocating a percentage of the profits be put aside for the entire team to do with what they want. They or the doctor, after a certain amount of time, possibly one year, may divide it evenly, have a party, go to continuing education or a trip to dental meetings.

Another thing to consider as mentioned earlier is whether or not the dental office will be able to actually make it cost effective to the patient and the office. Can your office really compete with the corporations selling them at pharmacy and large store chains?  There are so many large wholesale stores available to the public in today’s society that a dental office is unable to compete when it comes to price.

Therefore, it is also recommended once you decide to sell ancillary products, to sell items that are not available to the patient over the counter and that are only sold through dental offices. That helps to reduce the possibility of competing with large corporations. When it comes to the multitudes of mechanical brushes available to the consumer it is hard to compete with the retail market. There is something to be said for convenience. Many patients have more money than time and would rather just have the product recommended to them and available immediately.

 How many times do you write a prescription and the patient does not get it filled because of the hundreds of excuses they decide to use? By providing certain products that enables the patient to take it home today may make it more likely that they will use it.. Just make sure you provide products you believe in, that provide a benefit  to the patient and don’t forget to educate the staff, when it comes to your products of choice.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.
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