I recently upgraded my cell phone. I now have the newest version which has all latest features, or so I was told by the sales rep, who was very skilled at encouraging me to buy the best on the market. Of course, I went along with it, because who doesn’t want the best if they can afford it? I walked out of the store feeling pretty pleased with myself.
After I had gone through the immense upheaval involved in setting it up, like trying to remember all the passwords for my favorite old apps which I had to find again and upload. Once I had uploaded a massive amount of old data that I wanted to keep and found all my favorite photos and put them on the phone too, I sat back and admired this amazingly complex device that cost me a small fortune. Then I asked myself, “Why did I do it?”
I was instantly struck with buyer’s remorse. There was nothing wrong with the old phone. It did everything I wanted it to and more. Sure, it had features I had never used, but it was familiar and reliable. It did what I needed it to do. I’d never had a problem with it, so why then had I gone out and bought yet another new phone? Worse yet, a phone I would have to relearn from scratch. This latest model did more stuff, but that didn’t mean that I would….but at least I could if I wanted to. The reality was that I would never want to. My phone was, and always has been, a practical tool for me. When had it suddenly become a status symbol that I had to have?
Then it occurred to me that the same was true with the dental products my company sells. EXACTA Dental has been around for well over twenty years and we’ve been selling some of our product lines for all that time, with a few tweaks here and there but no whiz-bang bells and whistles. Just the same tried and true products. Sure, we’ve added a few items to our range, but we’re careful, we test them first before a single one is sold, just to make sure they’ll work for our customers. If there’s a hint of a problem, we fix it and test again. If it’s unfixable we don’t sell it. It’s as plain as that. We know we’re old-fashioned, some might say a bit boring, and we’re also reliable, another old-fashioned term you don’t hear much these days, and we make no apologies for that. In fact, we like it that way. It seems our customers do too, at least that’s what they tell us. A bit like my familiar old cell phone. It got the job done. What more could I want?
The dental industry has undergone remarkable changes in the last twenty years. There have been countless innovations, a plethora of new and improved products and a lot of dentists are out there, trying to keep up with the latest thing, the newest, flashiest technique or device they can convince their customers to pay for. If they miss one trend, not to worry, there’ll be another one around tomorrow or the next day. They spend a lot of time keeping up, but when it comes right down to it, the basics have not really changed, they’re just more flashy.
Of course there’s a place for innovation, but there’s also a price to be paid for it. Are our customers, the dentists we work with every day, really making more money by using the newest and shiniest? Maybe. But it’s a very big maybe. The cost of innovation is usually passed on to the customer. As long as there are people willing to pay big money for what they perceive is the ‘best’, then those dentists who cater to those types of customers will always do well because they can get away with their high margins. But not everyone wants the ‘best’ or can pay the prices that having the ‘best’ entails. Average will suit them just fine, thanks. How do you handle those customers, when your premium products supplier is selling even the most basic stock items at premium product prices?
Then there are the concerns of products failing and techniques not working quite as well as expected. Of course, you can always demand satisfaction from the company that sold you the faulty product in the first place. Failing that, you can rely on your insurance to cover your losses, until you can’t.
Or you can find yourself a reliable supplier who, for a fair price, will sell you product that has been tested in a generation or two of patients, so if it was going to fail, it would have done so by now. You could find a supplier who will have real humans answering their phones with real solutions to real challenges. Suppliers like us, for example. We still offer money back guarantees, too. That’s a pretty good idea leftover from the old days!
There’s nothing wrong with doing things the old-fashioned, tried and true way, just as there’s also a place for innovation. Kind of like me and my new cell phone. We’re learning to live with each other.