When Pennies Mean Dollars

On November 9, 2011, in strategy and philosophy, by Dan

Tara emailed me the other day:

“Just pulled in to the grocery store and then pulled right back out because I remembered you needed a quarter to get a cart, which of course I did not have. The moral? Don’t make it tough for your customers to spend money at your store – the quarter is about them, not about me and they lost $100 worth of business because of it today.

Now I’m sitting in the their competitor’s parking lot writing this email.” :)

Compare that with another email Tara sent me a couple of days later:

“I was just thinking about how delighted I was with the fact the hotel had a little container on the bathroom vanity that contained Q-tips. Such a little thing, but it makes me want to stay here again. How much did that cost the hotel? Hardly anything, and they have a delighted customer.  It’s the little, inexpensive, but unexpected things that truly delight.”

In both of these cases, pennies were traded for dollars. In the first case, the store reached for pennies and lost dollars. In the second, the company gave away the pennies, and got dollars in return.

But the real story here is one of service. Providing it–or not–is what’s driving the flow of pennies to dollars. Tara and I are both service geeks. There’s a lot of joy in good service. Money, too, I think. It’s worth thinking about where you’re exchanging dollars and pennies in your own practice.

What’s most important about service in our industry, though, is what it means.

Most of us aren’t in the business of naturopathy, or massage, or chiropractic or acupuncture or nutrition. We’re in the business of private health care. People are paying out-of pocket for what we do, and when people people pay out-of-pocket for things, there’s always a reason.

Sometimes the reason is that what you offer actually works.

But I think more often the reason is that you offer great service. Because it shows you actually care.


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3 Responses to “When Pennies Mean Dollars”

  1. Frank Prieto says:

    Wow Dan, another great post. I hope you don’t mind that I shared it on my Facebook Page. It’s short and sweet but with firepower you can take to the bank. Thank you. As always great stuff!


  2. Hi Dan, thanks for sharing your insights. Tara is very wise, too! In my practice, there are many ways that I “trade pennies for dollars” and I want to share two:

    (1) Paying for my website. This is my number one source for bringing in new patients. Even if someone is referred to me via word of mouth, those people almost always go to my website first to check me out before they call to schedule. Even though it costs me money upfront to pay for the software and web hosting, the return on investment is over 100-fold if not higher.

    And (2) I have a special soap in my clinic bathroom. I ran out of the usual soap that gets stocked in the restroom and grabbed one of my personal dispensers of rather spendy therapeutic foaming hand soap. The number of patients who commented on how much they like the soap (and even request to buy it) has taught me that this is a great investment and I now stock it exclusively for our clinic rest room.

    I love seeing patients taking deep breaths and smiling because they like the hand soap. It’s so simple! :)


  3. Dr. Steve says:

    Great post! Simple and soooo true!!

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