Episode 838: Handling No-Cost Patients

Uncategorized May 16, 2024

 Just because dentistry is one of your talents doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile service. When it comes to friends and family asking for discounts or free treatment, it can get sticky if you’re not prepared. In this episode, Kiera gives three pointers to addressing when someone inevitably drops your name in hopes of a discount:

  1. Recognize your worth as a dental professional

  2. Put a dollar amount to the discounts you’ve given

  3. Create a friends and family fee schedule, then use it

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Kiera Dent (00:00.83)

Hello, Dental A Team listeners. This is Kiera and oh, I am excited. Our team has actually been going and doing a little research for you guys to find out what are the topics the dentists and teams have been asking in the industry across the globe. And I am so excited because this month, I'm going to start shaking it up a little bit on you guys. So I am so excited for you. There's going to be different topics, very tactical, practical. I hope you guys are having a great time.


As always, thanks for listening to our podcast. Thanks for making us one of the top elite dental podcasts across all podcast platforms. You guys listening, sharing, subscribing, downloading, those are all how we're able to help and serve and really truly positively impact the world of dentistry with the tactical and practical. So thank you for being a part of this. Thank you for being here with me. I am so honored that you are here with me tonight or today or in the morning or whatever time you're doing this. I'm excited. So today let's talk about what do we do?


for friends and acquaintances who feel like they should get treatment at no cost. I hope you guys are ready for this. This is a common problem. As you guys know in the Dental A Team, we consult practices to make your life easier, more fun, have your teams have less stress, and be able to do it all with ease to get that more profitable practice, but honestly to have the most dreamy life that you could ever imagine. So that's what we're about. And you guys know that this is a fun topic because really it comes down to a full team effect of.


How do we really handle those friends and acquaintances? And honestly, dentists, I mean, I remember as a, when I was in a practice, our dentists would go and I could always tell when they'd been out with their neighbors or their friends because like, oh, hey, they're going to give a call and they're going to come in. And then doctor feels awkward and we don't know what to do because we feel like we should give them it to no cost. And the reality is you actually don't need to. And I'm here to help hopefully break that limiting belief, give you some awesome verbiage and some tips.


for you and your team. So number one, high five, you're here. I'm so happy you're here. Number two, let's talk about it. I'm gonna ask you, do you think that you were the best dentist? Do you feel that you give incredible dentistry? And do you feel like if you had someone that could do the quality of dentistry on your mouth that you would be more than happy to pay them? I hope you're able to answer yes. And if not, let's get some CE to where you can answer yes to that. But the reality is you're probably a pretty fantastic dentist, especially if you're listening to this podcast.


Kiera Dent (02:21.646)

So we have to realize that just because it comes natural for you and just because it's a skill for you does not mean that it should be done for free. Now, if it brings you joy, phenomenal, but if it doesn't, I want you to think about you are providing a service that people pay because they can't do it. And they're so happy that you're giving them the confidence, you're giving them the certainty, you're giving them the ability to eat the foods they want to. Like you have to think about how much our mouths do for us, the ability to talk, to smile, to communicate with other people.


all these things, you're actually giving your patients the ability to do. And so I just want you, I wanna remind you that like that's what you're giving them. You're giving them this incredible thing and you just feel like, oh my gosh, but I'm already doing this and it's so easy for me and they're my friend. Well, yeah, but you might have a friend who works at the grocery store or at a restaurant. That doesn't mean you expect them to give it to you for free. So I just wanna break it from you of like you are doing incredible things. Don't forget that you're doing incredible things.


But I feel like sometimes because we're talented at it, we just feel like, well, it's so easy for me. Therefore, why am I charging for it? That's false. Like just because it's a talent, just because it comes natural for you does not mean that it's not a service worthwhile. And also remember people want to pay you. We want to pay people. Like I am so grateful for my coaches. I'm grateful for my dentist. I'm grateful for my doctors. Like I want to pay them. I want to thank them. I can say thank you all day long, but their time is valuable too. So I really want you to remember.


You are valuable. You're doing something so incredible for these people. So don't undersell yourself. Also, by people needing to pay for it, they're also a lot more, like they'll be more timely. They'll show up better for you. And they're actually gonna be better patients for you. So just realize like it actually is a good way. And it's also a great way to keep friends because when we don't and there's this unsaid exchange, oftentimes resentment can build on both sides. I had a dentist and they would trade work all the time, but.


For them, it takes you like 30 minutes to do a filling and for this other person, it takes them like all day, but the costs are the same. That's not really a great way to make friends either. And so just realize that when we just charge our fees, you can offer a small discount if you would like to, but the goal is to not do it at no cost. And I think when we set it up, if you feel awkward about it, you can always have your treatment coordinator do it. So I'm just gonna help you like number one, you've got to realize that you're worth it. And I just want you to know that you do not need to do dentistry for free.


Kiera Dent (04:41.742)

People do need to pay for this. And even with your family, they can pay, you can have a friends and family fee schedule where they're at least paying something for it. So I just think like, number one, if this was, let's say you're going to your parents or you're going to a friend, you would pay them. Most likely you would pay them. Like I'm not gonna take my car to my friend who's a mechanic and not pay them because I know what that feels like. I'm not gonna ask my friend.


who's a doctor to diagnose me all the time. Like that's unfair to them. Just go to the doctor. Let's not also put our friends in those situations. So number one, realize like you are freaking worth it and you don't need to feel like you have to give it away for free. I also really do think that they'll respect you more. So they know and they're either gonna come and pay you happily or they're gonna find someone else and both are awesome options. So that's number one. Now number two, I wanna train your team on what we need to say. And so,


you can have a couple of different options. If you don't believe that you're giving away a lot of free dentistry, I want you to start tracking how much you give away for free, just so you can see the dollar amount. Now, this isn't to hold guilt and resentment. This is just truly to show you actual tactical, factual, how many numbers am I actually paying out every single month? That's something I really do want you to be aware of because oftentimes you are giving away so much more than you think that you're giving away. So paying attention to that number also helps you realize like, gosh, I wrote off like 30, 40 grand this month.


I don't have to do that. And I think we think we need to, but you're just living by rules that you have set, no one else has set. And so when they come in, again, if you're uncomfortable about it, have your treatment coordinator come in and give them the fee. You do not have to offer a discount, own your fee. So if you wanna charge full fee, charge full fee. If you wanna give them a friends and family discount, that's fine. But I think like whatever is gonna make your time worth it, because it is giving up chair time.


you are and there are parts of like, but Kara, I wanna serve and Kara, I wanna do these things, which is true, but I don't want you to be taken advantage of. And you're not gonna ask this question of, hey, how do I handle friends and acquaintances who feel like they should get it at no cost if you're not feeling like you're being taken advantage of. And guess what? Multiple people put this post out there. We went and did a bunch of research across all the different platforms and saw this one come up several times. And so I'm realizing a lot of doctors feel like they have to. Well, when you feel like you have to, it's no longer fun.


Kiera Dent (07:03.63)

because I'm not able to do this and be able to do the surprise and delight that I want to. You can always charge the fee and then you can surprise and delight them and be like, hey, thanks for coming in. Like I just wrote off 500 for you. They're still paying you, but you can surprise and delight if it sparks joy. Like let's go to Marie Kondo, right? If it sparks joy inside of you and makes you so happy to do it, then do it. But if you're doing it out of guilt or resentment,


Let's just get you out of that. And you can always say like, no problem, my team will take great care of you. Just give them a call. They'll put you in the schedule. No problem. Now, if they're like, hey, is like, I don't think most people aren't going to be like, is this free? Like, you know, my team will take care of it. We do have our friends and family fee scheduled. They'll take great care of you and they'll give you your pricing when we chat with you. Easy. Just pass it off to someone else. Your team's going to protect you. They don't want to have $0 in the, in the schedule. They don't want to have team like patients just calling. I.


I was like, Oh, doctor's been at the party. People are just calling and getting on our schedule for free. And my whole schedule now I've got goals and I'm trying to hit it, but doctor was saying hi to everybody. And now I can't fill my schedule. So I want you guys to just realize like, you don't have to do this and you can pass it off to your team. Now team members, a couple of options. One, we either discharge our full fee to, we can have a friends and family fee schedule where we actually put that in there. If they have insurance, we do still need to collect what we are obligated within the contract.


I know a lot of people are like, we'll just do it for insurance only. And I'm here to tell you that that's a big, big no -no. Um, we don't want you guys getting in that. If you're not willing to charge the patient, their portion, you're also not allowed to charge the insurance, the portion for that. So you've got to make sure you collect it. That's something where that's an easy combo of like, yep, we'll bill your insurance. Um, we are obligated under contract for that. So this is where we are. This is what we do need to collect for that easy conversation. Um, other ways you can give them your membership plan for free. Like that's a very simple way. So their cleanings are free.


I don't think you even have to do that. Why not just give them like 50 % off? I have found that when people pay for things, they tend to care about it a little bit more. Now, of course, you can always be generous. You can always do things, but I just wanna remind you, you do not have to do it. So have your treatment coordinators, build a friends and family fee schedule, figure it out if you wanna do a membership plan where they get it for 50 % because they are a friend and family, and then it's 20 % off of all treatment.


Kiera Dent (09:19.854)

but it is like fee for service style. That's an easy way to do it for them. Maybe you give them the $300 membership plan for 150 or 200. They get a hundred dollars off. Like, I think we often feel this guilt of, oh my gosh, I've got to offer it for free. But guys, like even a hundred bucks off feels awesome. And I'm super appreciative. I think when you do this, you also set yourself as my time is valuable. I do want to help you and I am able to be generous, but I don't need to be like a hundred percent generous.


And again, it's not you being selfish. It's not any of the things you're telling yourself. I can already hear like, but I'm being so selfish and like, I have so much and why do I need the reason we're charging for this is because they're taking the space of a patient who would pay you. And they're also taking your time, which is valuable. Just like if you were to go see your chiropractor or you were to go see this, or you were to go see this person, you would want to pay them and also paying them. Let's not take away their opportunity to serve you and to thank you for the goodness that you provide for their life.


So often we think that by giving something for free, we're benefiting them. But I can even remember a time my little sister and I went to Ireland and she had come back and I didn't feel like she had a lot of money. And so I was like, it's okay, Katrina, I'll just pay for everything. And I paid for everything throughout the trip. And at the end of the trip, we got into a little heated spat and she said, Kiera, I am so frustrated with you. She said, you told me that we were coming on this trip together.


and I saved money and I was more than happy to pay and I wanted to pay because that makes me feel like I am a part of this. It's fine if you wanna cover things, but you not letting me pay also made me feel like you didn't think that I could afford it, that I wasn't worthy to be on this trip with you and that you were just treating me like a little child who needed to get everything for free. I had not realized that, because I hear I was thinking I'm doing the nice thing and I'm paying for everything, but my little sister wanted to.


she wanted to feel like she was participating in it. And I just thought, what was I doing? Like taking that opportunity away from her. And so I just want to remind you, like you also, when we do this to other people, we are taking that opportunity away from them. We are taking the opportunity for them to feel good about it. And then if something happens, we're not like, oh my gosh, I gave it to you for free and I got to do it for free again. Rock on. Like we've already set it up. My husband's family is very business. They build beautiful custom homes.


Kiera Dent (11:40.078)

And what we found is there is no trade work and it just keeps better friends. So charge the fee that's fair for you, have that friends and family fee schedule, have a percentage off on a membership plan, but charge the fee that's fair for you. And I always tell everybody, I'm like, Hey, I don't do trades, even with consulting, like I don't do trades. I am happy to pay you because I want to just keep lines clean. I respect your time and I want to do that.


and vice versa, I think it just keeps clean lines. Here's my fee for it, we do offer X percent or maybe it's even 10 % off for friends and family or maybe it's 20 % off, but please, please, please realize you do not need to go 50 % or 100 % off. You're still being extra generous with your time and you're still being so good to them. And if you don't even offer a single discount, guess what? You are providing them insanely great dentistry that they can't get at a lot of other places and you're doing it for them and being awesome.


but we also don't want to set it up to where if there's problems, now they've got to come back for free. And because it was done for free, it's awkward for them and they don't want to call you. Let's just cut that. We want them to be a patient. We want them to be a paying patient. We want them to be just like everybody else. You're going to see them on time. You're going to end on time. You're going to give them a discount if you want, maybe 10%, maybe a free membership, maybe 50 % off the membership, whatever feels good to you where you truly feel so happy about it. And then we move along.


And you're not sad about it. You're not upset about it. You're not frustrated. But what I found is you just need to build that structure right now. So go back to your team, build the structure of what we're going to do, build the fee schedule, figure out what we're going to do that way. When they come, you make awesome. Here's my team's number. I'm not allowed to schedule for them. They get, I make their schedule Harry scary. And I told my team, I love them way too much to do that. Here's the number, give them a call. I'll let them know you're calling. They'll take care of everything for you. They'll let you know pricing. They'll let you know every piece of it and they'll take great care of you. Pass it off.


Your team now knows what to do. You don't put your team in an awkward position of what do we charge this person? Can we charge them? Your team's now empowered. You're empowered. The patient feels happy. The patient's feeling a great, paying a great fee. If something happens, they can come back to you with no guilt. And you're also allowing them to pay you for doing the incredible service that you're doing. So action items are number one, you are worth it. Stop doing it for free. Number two, you've got to figure out how much you're riding off. If that's going to help you realize you need to, you need to do this for yourself and also for your patients.


Kiera Dent (13:56.366)

Number three, build a plan with your team of exactly what you guys are going to do and how you're going to do it when these friends and acquaintances come through because it doesn't need to be at no cost. We've set that up. We've told them, and if you've been doing it for a long time, you can let them know like, Hey, we do have a new policy for it. Um, I just want to make it fair across the board for everybody. So just chat with my team. We do have a friends and family fee schedule now, so you'll be able to get that. It's our VIP one only close friends and family. Get it. And off you go. Here's the call. Danielle's amazing. She's going to take great care of you. I can't wait to see you.


pass it off, no big deal. You're still helping them out and be able to just speak with confidence. So I hope that helped out. If we can help you and your team, if we can give you guys the resources, this is what we coach on all the time. So things like this, things with your team. So reach out, hello at thedentalateam .com. And as always, thanks for listening and I'll catch you next time on The Dental A Team Podcast.




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