Last November we witnessed scenes of chaos and pandemonium as ‘Black Friday’ descended upon us. This latest import from the US, which takes place in November on the Friday following Thanksgiving, signifies the start of Christmas shopping and presents an opportunity to ‘bag a bargain’. People fight, bite and abuse fellow shoppers to get what they want… or at least what they think they want in the heat of the moment.
I was particularly interested by one man who was interviewed for Radio 5 Live, having gone to Tesco to buy a television that was on special offer. In the confusion and disarray he was unable to find the television and so ‘grabbed a coffee maker and a deep fat fryer instead’ – he was asked whether these were items he had intended to buy… ‘No’ he replied, ‘but they were cheap!’
This report encouraged me to re-examine my own concept of value. I always assess value by looking at what I need and then make a cost-benefit decision, which will determine whether I buy or not. If it’s something I will use time and again, quality will be a factor that affects my purchasing decision, whereas for consumable items I might just go for the cheapest. It’s only when you really understand your need that you can accurately judge value and just because something is cheap does not necessarily make it the right choice for you.
When we bought our new house recently, home insurance was obviously required and despite finding more than a hundred cheaper options on the market we ended up choosing one of the most reputable companies, who we felt we could trust. The peace of mind this offered was of great value to me in this particular situation and I’m delighted to say that the levels of service we’ve received so far have validated my decision.
The value we attach to various factors is different for each of us and can change over time. What we value and are willing to pay for at one stage of our career may be different some years later; it’s a subjective thing. Like all of us, dentists are aware of this and may be willing to compromise in certain circumstances, on certain products and services, but not on others.
When it comes to dental plans, I believe the quality and experience of a provider are important considerations. The practice is trusting a third party with the administration of its patient data and at least part of its revenue stream, so must have confidence in the company’s competency in this area. When the service is operated effectively, the dentist can get on with running their practice and providing high quality clinical care, safe in the knowledge that all elements of dental plan administration are taken care of. In this situation I would argue that such peace of mind is a valuable commodity.
DPAS Dental Plans has proved to be extremely effective for our clients, as we are a nimble and flexible organisation, able to provide practices with plans tailor-made to suit their needs, with a pricing structure that offers practices and patients great value for money. Essentially, what we offer is a comprehensive plan administration package, supported by a whole range of flexible support with no hidden charges, even providing more services than the more expensive providers in some cases.
I have visited many practices during my six years at DPAS and am always keen to listen to what dentists want and need to develop their practice, making sure to explain the various options available in the market and what we have to offer in comparison to the other providers. Once this proposition is explained and the dentist understands their needs, the ‘value’ of a DPAS Dental Plan becomes clear and dentists are happy to put their trust in us.
Experience and reputation are vital ingredients in establishing value for most people, who are often willing to pay more for a product or service delivered by a company recognised for its expertise in a particular area. This factor is particularly important when the delivery of a service from a third party can reflect either positively or negatively on the purchaser. People like to associate themselves with companies that deliver quality products or services. If delivery falls below the expected standard, people are less likely to continue their association.
DPAS has administered practice-branded dental plans for over 18 years and I believe we have a team that endows our brand with integrity and experience that dentists are happy to be associated with. We work hard at building our relationships with dentists and practice teams to ensure we give them comprehensive support and peace of mind.
Cost and value
There are always a variety of factors that will affect a purchasing decision, but cost is usually only one of them. Dentists, like other consumers, should take time to review all the influencers in order to conclude which composite, which handpiece or indeed which dental plan is best suited to meet their needs and therefore which is of most value.
Understanding the difference between cost and value is always important when running a business and sometimes the most valuable thing for a practice might actually cost nothing at all. It could just be the principal knowing exactly what they need.