Where Are Mom and Pop?

November 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Buck @ 3:00 pm

As we get closer to the holiday season, I like to look at my options as to where I buy my gifts. Given that I own a small business, I try to support other small businesses and companies that make things here at home. So even if it costs a couple dollars more, I feel good to support those businesses plus I usually get better customer service and attention when I go to a mom and pop store. But what happened to the mom and pop stores? There are far fewer than just a few years ago.
Well, a while back, Sam Walton figured out that the more that you buy of something, the cheaper it would be and the big box store was born. For example, I can buy a 12 pack of Coke at a lower price from Wal-Mart than I can at a small convenient store. It’s all the same Coke, but the price is less at Wal-Mart so people go there to save money. It’s what is called a commodity. It means you get the same thing no matter what the cost is. A Coke is a Coke.
Dentistry is looking at a similar situation in the future. Employers are paying less for dental benefits which means their employees are getting usually stuck with a PPO (participating provider option) plan. As I’ve discussed before, practices have to discount their fees around 30-40% in order to be on the PPO list. This basically means the practice needs to see about 30-40% more patients in order to pay the bills and run a business. This leads to less time being spent with each patient and can lead to cutting corners with materials and staff. Those practices that have elected to not be on those plans are able to provide a better, more attentive experience for their patients. Regardless of the economy, people typically buy what they want and not necessarily what they need. So it boils down to value versus price. If price is the most important aspect then you’ll go to the lowest bidder. But if an individual places value in their health, then they may go to a place that provides a better experience and it may be worth the extra cost. Dentistry is not a commodity, it’s a service that varies with every practice and every provider. Veneers and other cosmetic services, for example, can be done several ways. Is there an offer to increase patient comfort with pillows, blankets, headphone, and sedation? There is value in taking the extra steps to get the best result. The insurance companies want to pay less so practices then have to see more patients and possible lower the value. This can turn a practice into an assembly line atmosphere and decreases customer service. So buy your Coke at your local big box store if you want to save a few bucks, but don’t let the insurance companies tell you where to go for better dental health. I always say you get what you pay for and there is no better investment in you or your family’s health.