"That sounds great, doc, but how much will it cost?"
If you're like a lot of dentists this is among your least favorite questions. And it's not because you are not sensitive to the economic realities of good dental care; if anything, it is probably because you are too sensitive to them.
You want to give your patients the best care you are capable of providing and you want your diagnosis to be pure; however, you are also aware that often what you are proposing represents a significant investment from the patient's standpoint.
So when the topic of money comes up it is understandable that many practitioners get uncomfortable. The problem arises when that discomfort becomes obvious.
One of the most successful dentists I know, who has an outstanding acceptance rate, has a simple message he gives to young dentists when it comes to answering the cost question: "Don't be afraid to own your value."
Don't apologize for how much great dentistry costs. Don't hang your head and skirt around the question. Don't start your response with "I'm sorry to say but it would cost about ..." or "I'm afraid it's going to be ..." His advice is to communicate the options clearly and with confidence and when the patient has chosen their level of care and asks about price, look them in the eye and in a calm, direct manner say, "That will cost ..." and then go on to list the advantages they will see from the results. Make no apologies and don't indicate that it should be considered anything out of the ordinary. If you convey unflinching confidence in your value when presenting fees, he says, patients will pick up on it and feel confident in your value too.
That doesn't mean you don't try to help patients find a way to afford the care you provide (and as I have written previously, there are ways to do that). The lesson here is that if you want patients to truly appreciate the level of care they are receiving for their money, you can't be afraid to make it clear that you know you are worth it. As this dentist has proved, you can do it in a way that is humble and authentic and that actually encourages greater case acceptance.