By Les Jones, Creative Director at Practice Plan
In this highly competitive consumer world where customers are like gold dust, it never ceases to amaze me how many times I find myself in a situation where I’m ready to part with my money, but my supplier of choice is unable to take it.
It seems the art of grabbing defeat from the jaws of success is alive, and thriving, on the high street.
Here are two recent examples of how my desire to part with my hard-earned cash was thwarted by the very people I was trying to give it to.
One size does not fit all
I’m off on holiday in the next few weeks and, as is traditional, I thought I’d treat myself to a few new items of clothing to boost my holiday image. So, I pop into French Connection (I know what style is all about!) and I find a few pairs of trousers that seem to fit the bill. Yet, as I flick through them on the rack, something strange emerges – every single pair, in every colour are a 32-inch leg.
Now, despite the fact that I’d like to think I’m a strapping six-footer, I am, in fact, 5 ft 8 and not much more than a 29-inch leg. I ask the sales assistant if she has any of the trousers in a different length to which she says ‘no, sorry, we only do them in a 32-inch leg, you’d need to roll them up or get them shortened.’
I can only assume that the decision to restrict the trousers to just one length somehow makes the production run easier and more cost-effectively. But it’s also a sales barrier – because I don’t want to roll the trousers up and I can’t be bothered to get them shortened. So, I decide to take my business elsewhere and FCUK lose out on a £100 sale.
The breakfast deadline
I’ve written before about my cycling exploits and how every good cycle ride has a great coffee stop at the halfway point. A recent ride out was no exception. I cycled out one morning, got 25 miles under my belt and then decided it was time for breakfast. I was looking forward to an egg and bacon bagel and a great cup of coffee. I stopped at a cafe I’d not tried before and when the waitress arrived I put my order in. However, I was immediately knocked back by being informed that the bagels were part of the breakfast menu, which finished at 11am. It was now 11.20am and the lunchtime menu had kicked in – I could choose from a list of sandwiches.
Lunchtime! Who has their lunch at 11.20am?
I don’t know about you, but when you have visions of a bacon and egg bagel in your head, a cheese and pickle sandwich is not going to cut it! So, I decide to leave it and I cycle a further five miles to another cafe that is able to satisfy my growing need for breakfast.
Again, there’s probably a perfectly good reason why the cafe has organised its menu availability that way – but, I’m guessing it’s all about making things easier for them, not better for their customers.
They lost my business that day, and they’ve probably lost it for the foreseeable future. When you factor in the lifetime value, that could represent a reasonable amount of income lost.
The amazing thing is the bagel, bacon and eggs were in the building, as were the tools to cook them, as was my money – we just couldn’t do the exchange!
Barriers in your practice
I could also drone on about the car hire company that wouldn’t hire me a pre-booked car because I didn’t have a credit card – even though I had the money and the paperwork! Or the shoe shops that entice me in with their lovely displays but eight times out of ten can’t sell me a pair of shoes as they don’t have my size (7) in stock. The list goes on.
So, the question is – is any of this happening in your dental practice, are there barriers that you are inadvertently erecting which are costing you much needed income? Are you really putting the customer right at the heart of your business and responding positively to their wants and needs…or do they just have to fit in with your way of doing things?
Keeping a note of how many times patients don’t go ahead with an appointment or a treatment plan might give you some valuable insights into how you could change the way you do things to ensure the pendulum swings back in your favour.
I’m guessing that none of the examples I’ve given are isolated ones, I bet they happen every day – what wasted opportunities for those businesses involved.
Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap.
Les Jones is the Creative Director at Practice Plan, the UK’s number one provider of practice-branded dental plans. He has over 30 years’ experience of working within the creative and dental sectors in the fields of design, marketing and strategic consultancy. If you are interested in finding out more about how we help practices to become more profitable, call 01691 684165 or visit building.practiceplan.co.uk