Broad Scope of Negotiation

100% Air Conditioned

May 8, 2013

The old hotel stood on a corner 10 or 15 blocks from the new center of downtown, run-down curtains visible through the windows of its 10 story dirty brick hulk. But it was the red neon sign, with letters at least 5 feet high stretched all the way across the building just beneath the roof line that caught my attention: “100% Air Conditioned.”

At the time the building was built, my guess is the 1930’s, a completely air-conditioned hotel was an incredible competitive advantage. I imagine that guests flocked to it, ready to plunk down cash – this was way before credit cards – to do business with the hotel. But today, air conditioning is not even a question on the minds of potential guests.

It’s not much different when it comes to the question of a medical group’s competitive advantage in attracting contracting partners. Do you have one?

Competitive advantages are developed, excluding competitors from the equation. But as soon as one’s competitors catch up, what was once an advantage becomes simply the price of admission.

Negotiating a contract and properly documenting it are important functions, but they can only take place in a larger context, the context being a decision by the parties to do business together. The advantage your group offers a prospective contracting partner is the glue that binds.

So what exactly is your group’s competitive advantage? Does it have one? Have you revisited it and updated for the current market? Or, is it something akin to “100% air-conditioned?”

What do you think?

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