The Independent Dentist-When Frank Spear is Discounting….Trouble is A Foot…..

independent dentist

The independent dentist needs to be wary of the current economic changes afoot and how it will affect their practice.

When the giants of clinical CE are discounting coursework, there is a lesson to be learned and to take heed of in your practice as an independent dentist.

This email crossed my desk recently from Dr. Frank Spear’s organization at the Scottsdale Center—dentistry’s newest advanced CE delivery facility.

The implicit sales message is almost TWO FOR ONE or almost BUY ONE GET ONE FREE!!!  Archaic dental boards in some locations would certainly jump down the throat of licensee’s if they promoted such in their practices and many old school dinosaur, cranky puss dentists would go so far as to call such unethical.  But Frank’s email is simply of sign of the times and has a lot to tell when we think carefully about the “why’s” that forced this kind of offer into reality.

To the astute observer, of which there are few, most major compendiums have been doing something very similar related to discounting over the past 2-4 years.  As the economy tanked, the classrooms emptied out of the advanced continuums.  Most had to resort to discounting although they admonish their students to not discount dentistry but then offer them no solutions……another story….

The truth is that most attendee’s going to an advanced continuum put to use only a small fraction of what they learned in the coursework (perhaps 10% of IF they are lucky).  The majority go back and do nothing with it.

About the only clinical guru willing to say this is Dr. John Kois, the rest all stay in denial.  Kois will add that in order to put his courses to work you really have to go back and get better marketing tools and learn to sell or gain case acceptance on your cases.  Otherwise, realize what the course can and can’t do for you.  Even with that missive, he opted to get out of the business of hosting marketing and sales training courses because very few of his clients as independent dentist (even when told of the harsh reality) were signing up.  These days he simply points the most serious students (the ones that want to do the actual procedures he teaches them) to the consultants who’ve proven they can deliver (our program being one of them). Go to my website here.

Dentistry’s CE teachers did a great job of selling a lot of courses to dentists who would never do the procedures being taught.  That worked fine and dandy when cash flow was fat, patients and insurance payments were abundant, and, because of such, it didn’t really matter if you went back and did anything with the knowledge.  After all, you got your required CE, hung out and made a few dental buddies, and saw a new city.

As a student of behavior and economics, at the heart of this matter and never discussed, is the value of the money spent in exchange for the new knowledge.  For most, that expenditure, beyond delivering some self-satisfaction and emotional escape for a day or two, did little to deliver any actual financial return.  Unfortunately, self-satisfaction doesn’t pay the practice note nor put the kids through private school or buy shiny black BMWs (my favorite color of Beamer and the color of my 530xi).

In a basic ‘exchange of goods’ calculation formula, the value/exchange relationship with dental CE has been Really out of whack.  You have been getting much less than what you are paying for with advanced CE courses.  As an independent dentist you pay them $5K-$100K (including travel and time expense away) and you don’t even break even.  Most rational traders would stop but dentists simply kept on buying.  At long last, Mr. Market has arrived, cutting cash flows, and as a result Frank’s ‘2Fer is on the table.

Frank’s missive of TWO FOR ONE is a sign of Mr. Market.  Carl Misch’s willingness to use a 3rd part financing company which gives him a 10-15% haircut on the financing another sign of it.  Disclaimer:  We’ve ALWAYS used 3rd party financing as a selling tool.  CE and gadgetry work as effectively as a snake charmer mesmerizing a cobra to sway at will but that is not the case for the guru of marketing and case acceptance delivering actual goods that create revenue.  Once again proving that people don’t buy with logic but emotion.  Emotion says take another CE course.  Logic says buy business tools of marketing and case acceptance especially if you are an independent dentist.

By the way, none of this revolves around whether advanced CE is good or bad because it is excellent. It is also the only path for certain groups of patients to get back normal chewing and function.

Will dentistry continue to need the greats to provide training to the uninitiated about advanced procedures and materials?  ABSOLUTELY!  And the dentists that should continue to go are the ones who have the tools and skills to go back and actually demand the cases (literally calling the cases to the practice via their marketing) and then close them based on the best science marketing, buying behavior and choosing can provide.  All others need to get the horse (marketing and sales) in front of the cart (advanced CE).

I used to have a client who was an independent dentist and had been through Frank’s courses and was actually going back to taken them all again.  The short time he was with us, he complained that he was paying as much to get case acceptance and marketing tools as he paid Frank for his clinical tools.  Unfortunately, he was unwilling to change his own behaviors and instead of getting more cases via business tools he chose the easy way which was to simply sign back up for CE, go home and have no patients, and then blame the economy and patients for the whole lot…..go figure.

Anyway, here’s to Frank’s 2’fer AND for those dentists who not only want but get to do great cases thanks to his teaching and efforts as a clinical guru.

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