It’s All About Perception


Several years ago I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Nido Qubein, president of High Point University in North Carolina, speak.  His personal story is utterly fascinating, emigrating to the U.S. from Lebanon when he was a small boy not to mention the incredible transformation HPU has undergone since he became president in 2005.  Dr. Qubein is living proof of the American Dream.

One of the many life lessons he shared stuck with me as it pertains to dentistry on a daily basis.  It’s about perception.  As best as I can recall the story, this is how it went.

There were two candy stores in a small town, one at each end of town.  Let’s call them Store A and Store B.  Every Friday, the children in town would go to Store B having saved up their money all week from chores to purchase bags of penny candy.  Now, these stores were pretty identical in the types of candy they sold and most of the kids lived near Store A, so it didn’t make sense to walk further to Store B for the same candy.  One day, the owner of Store A finally had enough and went to Store B to see what they were doing that his store wasn’t.

Store B was packed.  The kids were lined up, each taking a turn at the counter to order their candy.  The owner of Store A watched as the salesperson put the bag on the scale and poured scoops of candy in, until it reached the designated weight, sometimes adding a few more pieces to reach the exact weight.  He recognized this process and was confused.  Nothing seemed out of order.  He watched for a while longer and went back to his own store.

Store A wasn’t busy at all.  The owner just couldn’t understand why his store was quiet and the other store was busy.  He noticed an older boy on the street carrying a bag of candy from his competitor.  He ran out and asked the boy, “Why don’t you buy your candy from my store?  What’s so special about Store B?”  The older boy replied, “Your store always takes candy out of my bag.  The other store always adds more to my bag.” This didn’t make sense, he thought, as it was based on weight.  He thanked the boy and went back inside his store, still confused.

Later that day, he understood.  A family entered Store A and the children ordered penny candy.  He watched as his salesperson scooped the candy into the bag then slowly took pieces out to reach the designated weight.  Same candy, same weight, same price.  It was the perception, as told by one of these kids who saved their pennies all week, that they were getting more candy for their money from Store B and less candy from Store A simply by how the salesperson filled the bag.

This same story plays out in the dental office every day.  Are we giving more to our patients or less than they expect?  What value perceptions do your patients experience compared to the dental office down the street?  In what ways can you be “putting more candy in their bag” vs. taking it out?

In today’s changing dental landscape, it all comes down to perception.  And it’s the patient’s perception that counts.


Robyn Reis

Robyn Reis

Robyn began her dental career in 1998 as a marketing and communications director for a large group practice, and instantly fell in love with the world of dentistry. She has spent every waking moment since learning, growing and collaborating with dentists and their teams utilizing her expertise in all aspects of dental practice management, marketing, communications, HR, continuing education, and laboratory sales. Robyn's personal goals are to make a difference in someone's life every single day and to give the best of herself to those around her. Robyn and her family live and play in Northeast Ohio.