Every day in practice we make recommendations for our patients.

Hopefully, these recommendations are based on what is best for them and best for our practices.

The financial success of your practice is heavily dependent on making strong recommendations for your patients without assuming what they are willing or aren’t willing to pay.

I have two interesting experiences related to this, where assumptions were made and broken.

The story

I once bought a car from a dealership, where afterward I quickly realized it was not the best investment. Fortunately, I had three days to return the car if I wished. 

Day three I sat at the dealership explaining why I was returning the car while they attempted every trick in their masterful car salesman (a.k.a. guilt-trip) book to encourage me to keep it.

The conversation went something like this:

“Mr. Bloom, we worked really hard to make sure you were happy with the purchase. Why are you suddenly so unhappy? What can we do to change your mind about returning it?”

My response: “There’s no possible thing you could do that would make me want to keep the vehicle. My demands are too high.”

The salesman then responded in a way I wasn’t expecting. “But that’s not your decision to make.” I was shocked! “What do you mean?” 

He said, “that’s not for you to decide. You tell me what your demands are, and the dealership will decide if it’s possible.”  

I assumed they could not satisfy my needs and wasn’t even going to give them a chance to do so. The salesman was smart though, and wouldn’t let me remove that opportunity from them.

A few days later I remembered that encounter while observing my staff during a high-end eyewear sale.  I was quick to judge the patient’s desire to pay out-of-pocket and thought to myself, “This patient doesn’t have insurance. They’re not going to want to pay for all of this, so why are we even discussing it.”  

To my surprise, the patient bought a high-end frame, transitions lenses, a quality AR coat, and paid for all of it in cash!  The car salesman’s statement of “that’s not your decision to make” quickly came to mind as my assumptions were broken.

Needless to say, from these two experiences I learned, don’t assume what someone is willing to invest without giving them the opportunity to see all their options.  

In the end, you may be cutting both you and the patient short. As Mark Twain once said, “It is wiser to find out than to suppose.” And I’ll add, it’s more profitable too!

What we can learn

As doctors and practice managers, we often fall into the unhealthy habit of making assumptions about our patient’s desire and/or ability to spend money; many of these assumptions are incorrect. 

You might think “this patient would benefit from an AR treatment on those lenses, but they won’t want to pay for that”. Think how much money we leave on the table when we make these baseless and usually incorrect assumptions.

Not only do we leave money on the table, but we also do our patients a disservice by not offering the benefits of high-quality eyewear.

We can’t optimize our business if we assume what our patients are willing or aren’t willing to spend.  We have to leave the purchasing up to them while offering what we truly feel are the best medical and fashion options for them.

Let patients make their own purchasing decisions. Guide them along the way and make strong recommendations about what is best for their health. But ultimately they decide what’s best for them. 

Education and empowerment are the secrets to helping them appreciate the value of their purchase. Most important, encouraging them to invest in their eye health and fashion will keep them coming back to your practice year after year.