Why You Shouldn't Offer Unnecessary Client Services

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Jun 11th 2015
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Have you ever considered recommending, for clients, services that weren’t entirely necessary? The services would yield value, but what if the client didn’t actually need them at this time, and there was no business or monetary penalty not proceeding? Let’s consider a scenario in another profession – dentistry.

A woman in her early 20s, about a year out of college, finished training as a dental hygienist and landed a job for a dentist in northwest Florida. It was a large operation with 15 employees. On Monday morning, before the first patients arrived, the dentist and his top long-term assistant would conduct a meeting for everyone on staff to discuss the scheduled patients coming in throughout the week.

The staff analyzed each patient’s record, considering their current situation and what other benefits and services that could be sold. On a patient-by-patient basis, this dentist sought to generate maximum revenue. If somebody was borderline for a certain procedure, the prevailing norm within the office was to have everyone hint that this procedure was a good idea at this time.

The dentist, rather proficient at his craft and enjoying a good reputation within the community, held such meetings for years before this particular hygienist came on-board. This tainted her view of the entire industry; she wondered how many dentists operated in such a manner.

Can’t Touch This
The hygienist had no stomach for this, but because of her circumstances and limited finances, she could not depart quickly and look for a new job, so she stuck with it for eight miserable months. All the while, she was silently kicking and screaming.

She stayed at the practice first to make ends meet, then hopefully to save a little money, and then have enough to move on. She kept feelers out for other positions with other dentists, even though it was a delicate line to walk. She never brought up her distaste for this type of approach to generating revenue. She didn’t know who was loyal and who wasn’t, but it didn’t matter. For her, the course was set.

How many patients understood that they were sometimes being sold a bill of goods and services that weren’t entirely necessary? Patients never caught on to the act. Hygienists would suggest that a particular tooth might be in trouble. The dentist comes in after a cleaning, spends his two to three minutes checking the person’s mouth, and then stops at that same tooth and says, “You know, it looks like we need to pay attention here.” The dentist never recommended risky, inordinately expensive, or nonbeneficial procedures, but the hygienist felt that the whole practice was tainted and her misgivings, in subtle ways, spread to others.

Let it Go
The upshot for accountants is don’t engage in this type of revenue-building strategy: After all is said and done, it’s not worth the risk to your firm or reputation.

About the author:
Jeff Davidson, a.k.a. "The Work-life Balance Expert"® works with busy accountants to increase their work-life balance, so that they can be more productive and competitive, and still have a happy home life. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, and Dial it Down, Live it Up. Visit www.breathingspace.com.

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