This will be a little different from any article or blog I have ever written. I am about to ask you to do something. It’s time for the silent majority of those doctors who never speak up, never rock the boat, and would never look for an advantage to stand up and do something about this. Just like in the movie Network, where Howard Beale (Peter Finch) playing a network anchor stands up and says: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore”, we need to join together and make a stand for the little guy, the ordinary dentist in an unremarkable town, who takes care of his family and patients, and just wants to enjoy the profession and have the practice he/she always knew they would have. It’s almost like being a solo or small group practice is unfair. No matter what we do or how we go about it, we are being dealt a poor hand. Every day we step into an arena where there is no weight class, age or talent slots, or experience or belt levels. We literally go to battle each day knowing that we are the underdogs and for most of us, we are going to lose. It’s a regular David and Goliath match up.
Corporate practices have better locations, newer facilities, better training, better marketing, and an unlimited supply of dentists to pick from, and very deep pockets. I don’t know about you, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about how unfair this matchup is, and I think I might have a way of evening the odds. They can buy supplies for 30-40% less than we can, buy equipment at wholesaler’s prices, negotiate lab fees at 15% less than we can get, and when they sign up for a managed care plan, they can get higher reimbursements than we can. It’s the power of size, and size does matter. Because they represent a large pool of practices, and the buying power they wield, they have the power to make the rules. Well, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.
It’s about time that we band together, and present a united front to insure our purchasing power. In today’s world we no longer need libraries or books because every bit of literature is available in digital format. We need supplies and equipment, but the day of the middleman is over. With enough of us joining together, we can wield a lot of power not just in supplies, equipment, lab and insurance negotiations, but in attorneys, CPA’s, and any consumer marketed product. We could dictate what we were willing to pay and they would line up around the block to service us.
So here’s the deal. I have no idea of how we could get several thousand doctors to put their names into a group that could change the way we practice, but I’m willing to make a run at it. We have thousands of doctors that listen to our radio shows, read our newsletter and blogs, and read our books and watch our videos, but I have never asked anyone to stand up and be counted. This is your opportunity to change the dental profession as you know it.
Max Gotcher, my business partner, edits these things, and he probably won’t publish this, but I think we can do it, and it will take every doctor we know to email us and indicate that they are interested in doing this. Every one of you need to get up off the couch and email me and say: “I’m in”, and put your name in the hat. We can do this.
One of the first songs I ever learned on a guitar was back in the late sixties. It was Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie and it was a 20-minute long anti-war anthem. Arlo, who had been arrested for littering, was drafted and the song was about his physical exam and being rejected because he wasn’t good enough to go to war due to having committed the crime of littering. The very last of the song goes like this: (We need to create a MOVEMENT.)
The only reason I’m singin’ you the song now is ‘cause you may know somebody in a similar situation. Or you may be in a similar situation, and if you’re in a situation like that, there’s only one thing you can do: Walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in, say, “shrink…you can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant”… and walk out. You know, if one person, just one person, does it, they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him. And if two people do it… in harmony… they may think they’re both weird and they won’t take either of them. And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of “Alice’s Restaruant” and walkin’ out? They may think it’s an organization! And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day … walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walkin’ out? Friends, they may think it’s a MOVEMENT, and that’s what it is: THE ALICE’S RESTAURANT ANTI ’MASSACREE MOVEMENT! … AND ALL YOU GOTTA’ DO TO JOIN IS TO SING IT THE NEXT TIME IT COMES AROUND ON THE GUITAR. With feelin’.
That’s it. It’s time for the ordinary dentist to be involved in a movement. You email me and tell me you’re in and I will try to figure out how we can eliminate the middleman, lower our costs for everything, while hopefully costing us nothing more than banding together.
Michael Abernathy, DDS