Dentistry is a growing industry with more dental practices opening every year. Because of this you might think that patients are receiving the best care in the history of dentistry. While this may be true at some practices, it’s unfortunately not the case across the board. Between corporate dental chains and private practices fighting to be as profitable as possible, patients are often treated as monetary values on a spreadsheet rather than the thinking and feeling human beings they are.
During my time as a dentist, one lesson was a turning point in my entrepreneurial career, and I think that it’s one of the most powerful things I’ve learned to this day. You don’t have to make money off every patient every single time they come in. The most important thing is that you do the right thing for those you serve.
You might be thinking to yourself, how do you stay successful if you’re not making money off your patients? It’s not that I’ve resigned myself to not profiting from the procedures I provide for my patients; it’s that money doesn’t factor into my decision-making when it comes to an ethical question.
For example, I might provide a crown that I’m satisfied with to a patient, but when they come in just a year later, the crown has shifted or isn’t quite as ideal as I remember. In a situation like this, I can either do the right thing (replace the crown without charging the patient) or I can do the wrong thing (do nothing and compromise the patient’s health or charge them for my own mistake). I’ve decided that in order to run an upstanding business, you must always do the right thing, no matter the cost.
When it comes to decisions like these, I don’t consider the financial impact because the value of always doing what’s right far outweighs any expense that I’d have to take on. Building an environment of honesty, trust, and accountability will help you keep the patients you have for life. They will in turn refer others to your office as well, and loyal patients are far more valuable than the cost of a procedure every now and then.
I believe this rule applies to all types of businesses. If you’ve made a mistake or your customers are not satisfied with the result of your work, you need to make it right. A failure to do so can lead to a reputation for being unreliable or dishonest, and how much new business will that get you?
In the end, people want to work with people they can trust. They want to feel that if they have an issue, they can come to you and know that you will do everything in your power to make it right, not just make excuses or say “tough luck.” Dedicating yourself to ethical entrepreneurship won’t make you money on every person that walks through the door. But it will make your customers feel like far more than a number, and a customer who feels respected and valued is one of the greatest assets a business can have.