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What happens when someone asks you to lower your fees?
First, there is the practical matter: How much profit margin have you built in to your fees? Obviously you have to cover your overhead costs: materials, staff time, hourly cost to keep the practice running.
But then comes the “negotiable” part: how much do you pay yourself? How flexible you are with your fee depends, in part, on how you set the fee in the first place.
If your fees are bare minimum because you are a volume practice, then more than likely there is very little practical room for negotiation. If you have a healthy profit margin, then negotiation is still in play.
Whether to negotiate price becomes a more abstract matter. Issues such as “what is your time worth,” “what is the service worth” and “how badly do you want the patient” come into play.
The reason these are more abstract questions is because they are subjective and influenced by many factors. For instance, if your practice is slow and a patient comes in needing $20,000 in dental work but says they could pay $15,000 cash if you’ll just “work with me on the price,” that may be very tempting to take.
Conversely, if you have a thriving practice where money isn’t an issue, but you have the chance to get a local celebrity or someone who could give you great word-of-mouth advertising, is it worth giving them a discounted price to keep them from going to a competitor?
These are questions you’ve got to decide for yourself.
But if you have set a fair price for your service, you should stick with it. You have financial obligations and plans, both of which can be derailed if you start discounting your fees.
Discounting your fees reduces the value of your services. That’s because word will soon get around that your fees aren’t REALLY your fees and can be negotiated. Then suddenly your fees are nothing more than a starting point.
But that is not the same as negotiating TERMS. For instance, you can work with people on payment plans. You can also work with them on different solutions that meet their needs; perhaps not as quickly, not as conveniently or maybe not even as well.
So while implant-supported dentures may not be as good as permanent replacement teeth, they’re still better than old-fashioned removable dentures – and more affordable. Or you could negotiate ADDITIONAL services, such as free or discounted follow-up care, cleanings or maintenance.
Ultimately, patients need to understand the VALUE of your work over the cost of your work. They need to understand that you are offering them top service, high-quality work and the best price you can. If they change one, the other two will have to change as well.
Just as importantly, you need to keep your value firmly in mind. While we all understand the financial realities, a habit of discounting the price of your work can have a negative perception of you and the services you offer. Think carefully before discounting your work, or yourself.