Sack the cabinet, engage with product recommendation!

Tracy Webb suggests changing the way you approach dental product sales in your practice.

Do you sell dental products in your practice? I often see cabinets of toothbrushes, interdental brushes and toothpastes in the practices I visit and I wonder what role they are serving. Although usually located in the reception area where there is a constant through traffic of patients, they are just another bit of furniture occupying valuable space, with little interest shown by patients.

I am given to believe they are there to bring in an extra revenue stream. But given the absence of sales, it’s hard to believe this is a lucrative addition to the business! Does it really matter if retail sales are not a big earner for you? After all, the products are in keeping with the rest of the space, reminding all concerned that this is a dental practice that cares about teeth.

Show that you care

My philosophy is that if it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing well. I also believe that selling dental products enhances the service you provide and this in itself is more important than the profit aspect.

Your patients are loyal to you for a whole host of reasons, but first and foremost because they trust you and your team. To my mind, you should never take that trust for granted, but always be ready to find ways to build on it.

One useful way is to make sure that you care about your patients and their oral health wherever they are. Your relationship shouldn’t be limited to their time and treatment in the practice, but extended to their overall wellbeing.

I have never forgotten the dental appointment where it was explained to me why my BPE score was poor in two particular areas of my mouth. The dentist showed me a Youtube video, which demonstrated how to clean under the gum and then she showed me what I needed to do.

She gave me the brushes she had just used to take home so I could be sure to continue what she had shown me. Now, every time I go to the practice, I buy the brushes she recommends. It might be cheaper for me to buy them in a pharmacy around the corner, but it’s more convenient to do so in the practice. And I want to support the practice too!

I am an even more loyal patient because of the time the dentist took over recommending the best products. This was a clear illustration that she cared about me. The fact that the practice sells the tools I need to keep my BPE score low reinforces their commitment to dental health.

Put your goods on show

Part of the problem with retail sales in dental practices is the use of a cabinet. It keeps the products out of reach. In high street shops your patients can pick up the products and pop them in their basket and this makes a transaction more likely. If the product is recommended by you or one of your team and can be picked up in the practice, this makes a transaction even more likely.

So why not repurpose the interior of the cabinet and put your dental products somewhere different, where patients can access them more easily? And why not talk more to your patients about how they care for their oral hygiene at home and what products they use?

I suggest that at a practice meeting, all the clinical team, dental nurses included, discuss how you would chat about the benefits of the products you sell. If the patient feels your aim is not to be promotional, but to focus on the service you provide, I think you may find that, as a spinoff benefit, your retail sales improve.

DPAS is a provider of dental plans for your practice and patients, offering everything the team needs to implement and promote plans effectively. For further information, visit, email [email protected] or call 01747 870 910.

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