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Sundry Sales - Discuss!

We all know we should have them in our Practice and that some patients buy some - but the real question here is, 'What value do sundries bring?' .

Bit of an open question there and here are some thoughts from little old Fox & Jones on that very subject... Edge of the seat stuff right?!


Well first and foremost, they bring additional income to your Practice - not much, but anything you can plough in into the top line is a good thing. This brings us nicely onto the first thing we should all be looking at - Are sundries prices correctly?


How do you set those prices? Is it a 'finger in the wind' job? "That sounds reasonable?" or even (god forbid...), "Let's just sell them for what we get them for at cost from the supplier..."


We want to cry just thinking about those 'options.'


Price the sundries properly and you should be looking for a 40%+ profit margin on each and every item. I can hear it now, the cries of indignation - "Well that's unethical, they can get them cheaper in boots or the supermarket!" Our answer, "So what if they can get them cheaper in boots or the supermarket?!" Ultimately, you are dealing with adults, who are quite capable of making their own procurement decisions - as long as you and your team demonstrate the value of using the sundries you recommend (i.e. the health benefits), then that is just fine - the patient either chooses to buy them or they don't - plus it's much more convenient to buy them whilst they are at the Practice, rather than make another visit to the afore mentioned retail outlets! As long as your are honest about the benefits of using that mouthwash (or whatever) brings, then you are acting ethically. Full stop.


Get that bit straight.


Now on to the selling part - communal eye rolls all around right?! Get a grip.

Selling is a part of what you do, period - you influence other peoples opinions in order for them to follow your expert clinical advice/diagnosis, therefore resulting in the purchase of a product or service. That's selling kids! Amazing.


So, everyone in the team must be on board with this concept. Training is required, however the onus for selling sundries should lie with the clinical team and in particular, your Hygiene team. A presumptive sell is the best way (having explained the benefits obviously) - "...Here you are Mrs. Scott, you require this mouth wash, this toothpaste and this pack of TePe's, for the good of your oral health as we discussed - you can pay for them at front of house - I'll walk you out!" Again, if the products are in the patients best interests i.e. the good of their oral health - you are acting very ethically. The patient trusts you and will therefore make the purchase - it's simple really.


Current patients already trust you intrinsically, so selling sundries to them is a regular occurrence and they see the value - great stuff, well done you.... but what about new patients?


Well the likelihood is that new patients will not be using the correct sundries (if any) during their home care routines soooooo... it's important to make a conversation about sundries and the importance thereof, a part of your new patient consultation process - plant the seed early on! They are much more likely to buy, when you first suggest buying, if those initial conversations have taken place. Remember - the sundries you up-sell to these patients are for the good of their health - there is no better reason to buy something than that!


So what about the team, what's in it for them? Well apart from meeting fundamental requirement number 1 of 'working in the patients best interests' of course...

Well, you do have the option of making sundry sales target led - which means if the team sell a certain amount of sundries, they get a bonus - hooray, who doesn't like a bonus?!

Firstly, set a target for sales as a minimum and add incentives for anything over and above that number - it often pays to work in percentages here (+10% on target = a blow up banana, +25% on target = a milkshake, etc - you get the gist) - seriously though, make it worth their while, but not ridiculous - remember that all important profit margin!

So there you have it, a dip of ones toe into the whirlpool of sundry selling - we hope you find something useful in there!


Must dash, need to polish the mouthwash bottles...


Take care,


Fox & Jones.


Edward Jones - Managing Partner at C&E Consult - Helping Dental Practices across the UK, take those steps to success!


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