Sticky situations: What to do about a dentist who sporadically discounts his treatment?

Editor's Note: The following "Sticky Situation" was submitted by Sharyn Weiss of the Pride Institute. It is the latest in a string of "Sticky Situations" submitted by the experts at Pride Institute.

Dr. Deal hates seeing the look of distress on his patients’ faces when they ask him how much a treatment is going to cost. He’s seen their eyes glaze over and it makes him feel bad. Real bad. All Dr. Deal wants is to ease the financial pain a little so patients accept treatment. So, for some patients, he reduces the cost. After all, it’s better than the patients refusing treatment, right? If he didn’t do this for his patients, they might not make an appointment at all. He justifies his action by telling himself that he has a right to charge what he wants to charge.

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Francine is Dr. Deal’s financial coordinator and she’s confused. Patients are telling Francine that the doctor promised them 5-10% off the fee she’s just quoted. She doesn’t know what to charge patients because the fee changes with each patient. She has to check with the doctor to see what the fee will be before she can make her treatment estimates. Dr. Deal’s actions are not only undermining her credibility with the patients, it is also giving her a HUGE amount of additional work and stress.

What are the average nationwide fees for 20 common procedures?We have the answers here.

What should be done? Head to the next page for the solution to this "Sticky Situation"

Of course, Dr. Deal has the right to charge what he wants to charge … but with every right also comes a responsibility. He is responsible for the overall financial stability of his practice. What Dr. Deal doesn’t recognize is that with every deal he makes, he is chipping away at his credibility as an entrepreneur, leader, and clinician. He is inadvertently saying, “This treatment is not really worth the amount of money my fee schedule says its worth.” Plus, he’s coming from a place of insecurity and fear and, by his actions, he is telling his patients, community, and team, “I’m not really worth my fees” and “I don’t value myself.”

Dr. Deal first needs to step into some awareness, perhaps a 360 review process, so he fully understands why he feels he needs to “make a deal.” He needs to schedule a team meeting and ASK his team and LISTEN to them about how his actions are affecting cash flow and systems as well as his team’s self-esteem, self-efficacy, and stress levels. Second, schedule a conversation or assessment with a business consultant to really look at how his devaluing of himself is affecting his and his team financial future. Lastly, enroll in some team training around how to present treatment options that feel authentic.

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Have a Sticky Situation you need help with? Contact us at Pride Institute offers an array of consulting services, products, and seminars to enhance the lives of dentists, their teams and ultimately their patients. For more information about our services, speak with one of our client services specialists at (800) 925-2600 or visit

Editor's Note: Photo by Svilen.milev (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons