Negotiation Philosophy

Are You Selling Chevys?

July 31, 2013

If you’re like most people, you hate shopping for a car. But even if you hate it, you probably follow the rule of negotiating with multiple dealers. You know that you have to have alternatives to any one deal.

If you haven’t already, read my post, My Father Loved To Buy Cars. And Your Exclusive Contract Or Employment Agreement, about why most medical groups don’t apply the same lesson to protect and expand their businesses.

Of course, if you’re selling cars, the story is different. Years ago I represented some car dealers.

Unfortunately, there’s growing similarity between selling cars and selling medical care. You wish it weren’t true, but wishing alone isn’t going to change anything.

For car dealers, it’s about distinguishing your service so that the car isn’t a commodity. Or it’s about creating a car that is so unique or at least so hard to find that its not that much of a commodity.

Take that to heart whether you’re running a 3 doctor group or a 300 doctor group. Or even if you are an employed doctor, say one working for a hospital system.

If you are the commodity doctor, then the hospital or group will treat you as such. Let’s look at the MGMA compensation survey numbers and plop you down at the median or maybe a bit more. A little bit more, but never a lot.

But if you’ve pushed your professional development and your referral base and your reputation beyond the tough but pervious ceiling of commodity status, hospitals might scramble to build you a “Dr. You Institute.” Or you could tell them to buzz off and do it yourself.

If you’re selling Chevys and Joe Customer walks in the door to buy a new Suburban, you’ve got to compete on price and customer service. If you’re selling Ferraris, and Joe Customer walks in the door you aren’t even interested in talking to him about a new car because you only sell those to existing customers — the factory doesn’t even make a new car until you have it sold.

I’m not saying you can’t make it up on volume if you’re a commodity selling Chevy dealer. I’m saying that it’s near impossible to make it up on volume as a commodity selling doctor.

Are you a Chevy dealer or a doctor?

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