Make the Invisible Visible

(Continued from the prior post, this story happened in the mid ’90’s so the quoted prices are lower than today’s prices. The story is still valid.)

One of his customers complained, “Gary, I can get 2×4 studs at 84 Lumber for 84 cents. You’re charging me $1.09. That’s too much.”

Gary smiled and said, “Jump in the truck. We’re going to 84 Lumber.” When they got there, Gary walked over to the pile of studs and began to pick through them looking for lumber that was straight and true.

“Nope, not that one.”

After examining half a dozen studs, he approved one. “How long did that take?”

“About 30 seconds.”

“And what does it cost for your guys to do this?”

“I figure they could pick about a hundred an hour. At $18.00 an hour, it cost 18 cents to pick them.

So that brings the cost up to $1.02. Then there’s the time that it takes from them to drive down here, load up the lumber and drive back to the job site. I see your point. It costs me more to buy the cheaper lumber.”

Gary smiled, “I deliver the quality lumber you need right to your job site which means instead of picking through cheap lumber, your crew can be building a house.”

He was able to hold his price in the face of a competitor with a 23 percent lower offering by making the invisible costs plain to see. He made the invisible visible. And he became CompetitionProof against pricing pressure from his low-cost competitor.



I love this one as in my profession of dentistry folks are not always able to tell the “difference” in what we do. It isn’t necessarily seeing the difference between a motel 6 and the Hilton. Yet, to make the invisible visible is to show patients things like digital x rays which can be transmitted via email, digital xrays having much less radiation, the trend of no metal in dental restorations, particularly crowns, the use by some dentists of cut-rate crowns using allergy-prone materials, patients submitting paperwork by website and checking thier accounts, email and text patient communication. Another area is advanced training into cosmetic and implant reconstruction. There are still a good number of patients out there who don’t know what their dentists don’t know. The result is that sometimes both the dentist and the patient don’t know what they don’t know and possible treatments are invisible to both but are visible to others…ok, I’ll stop, you know what I mean…

Thanks for the info.’


Thanks Dr. Jerry for the great feedback. You’ve got it!

While it’s second nature to you, it’s invisible to your patients. A great way to do this is to educate as you go. “I’m taking digital x-rays of you because they use 1/10 of the radiation of film x-rays. This means you have substantially less radiation exposure. It also means that I can e-mail them to you. Or if I need to consult with another expert about your situation, I can get a much faster answer from them. All in all, it’s just better dentistry.”

You get the picture!

The next step is to make sure that your patients can tell the story to others. “I go to Dr. Maize because…”

Mark S.A. Smith