The Secret To Growing Your Business Is Not Major Shifts, But Making Small, Educated Changes

By: Thomas Buttino

Published: October 15, 2021

Blog, Business Growth Strategy, Business Psychology

Growing Your Business Can Be As Simple As Adding One Or Two Upsells Customers Need

Yesterday I visited two offices: 1) my dentist 2) my chiropractor, and found they had the exact same approach to upselling customers to scale their businesses – the soft-sell approach.

I personally appreciate the soft-sell approach, mainly because I’m usually a very decisive person. I’m the Yin of decisiveness to my wife’s Yang of indecisiveness. That’s probably one of the reasons we work so well together. Complementing forces.

Anyway…I love assessing my interactions with other businesses and business owners. There are usually a few small things I’ll notice that they can do differently, but have a massive impact on their organizations.

This same concept is why many larger corps hire secret shoppers. Most people think it’s because the big faceless corp wants to spy on the staff, but more so it’s really to understand their operations from the customers’ perspective, and how to improve it.

I’m sure some places use secret shoppers to narc on employees, but if you suck at your crappy retail job, you probably shouldn’t be working there anyways, but I digress.

Tell me if this sounds like your typical dentist’s office visit?

I walk in and am greeted by a friendly receptionist who lets the dental hygienist (not the dentist) know I’ve arrived. A few minutes later, the hygienist shows up with a mask on, eyes smiling, and after sitting down in a chair that looks like the offspring of Iron Spiderman, we exchange a few pleasantries.

Then, she proceeds to work me over like we’re in a heavyweight title fight and she’s Mike Tyson kicking the crap out of my gums.

After 30-or-so minutes I come out of my coma of pain, and the upsells begin. While Maria was in there she noticed that I have some tartar build-up on my wisdom teeth.

She says, “Just hop on Amazon or Costco’s website and buy a water pik (about $40), and an electric toothbrush (about $80).”

To which I say, “I know, I’ve been meaning to for my last 4 visits. I’ll get around to it probably on the next Amazon Prime Day [8 months from now].”

She replies, “Ok, that sounds good. Now, let’s talk about getting you some ‘tooth sealant’. They fill in the tiny crevices on top of the teeth so you don’t form any cavities. Looks like for 14 teeth the normal price is $966, but we’ll give you the insurance pro-rated rate, so it’s only $672.”

(That’s right, I’m 40 and have no cavities, even after skipping the dentist’s office for the last 23 years. Fight Me.)

“Oh, that’s all?!” I say, choking on the remaining bits of tooth shine sloshing around in my gums.

“Also, it seems like you still need some orthodontics so we can fix the minor movement your teeth have undergone by not wearing a retainer for the last 26 years. Invisalign is only $4,762. Should we take some impressions and get those going for you?”, Maria closes with.

Cough cough, choke choke. “No, Maria, I don’t have (sealant: $672 + Invisalign: $4,762 = $5,434), an extra $5,434 to drop on capping and moving a few teeth today. Let me get back to you on the next visit.”

“Ok, we can talk about it next time. Can’t wait to see you in January”, Maria finishes with.

Next, I am shown to the front desk, pay my $24 co-pay, and walk out hoping my jaw relaxes enough to drink a smoothie in the next four hours.

Visit Over, Major Growth Opportunity Missed

Does that visit sound familiar to you? Maybe replace the idea of teeth sealants with a few cavity fills, or instead of Invisalign you’re presented with the joy of a root canal?

It doesn’t matter what the offer was in Maria’s soft-sell. What matters is that every single person in that office visit, ESPECIALLY THE DOCTOR, missed the biggest money-making opportunity dangling right in front of them. What was it?

Selling me the water pik and electric tooth brush.

I don’t always run around with an additional 54 hundred bucks to spend on my smile. However, $40 for a pik and $80 for a better toothbrush is easy to swallow (pun intended). Plus, since I never think to buy these things when I leave their office, I’m perfectly primed to buy them when I’m sitting in the chair explaining my short-comings in dental care.

More importantly! Every. Single. Person who walks into that dentist’s office needs those two items. No exceptions.

But you’re probably saying, why go for the smaller sale? Wasn’t pitching the sealant and ortho a good move? Absolutely! They should be selling me that on every visit, but the chances of the average person dropping $5k on their teeth is slim.

Before that though, we consumers need to be buttered up with a smaller win before dropping the equivalent of a used car on fixing our teeth. Instead…

How Small Upsells Deliver Major Returns

Let’s say my dentist made $80 on my visit: my $24 co-pay; plus $56 from my insurance company.

$80 is decent money for an hour of work, but they failed to capture another $120 in sales by not selling me the water pik and electric brush.

$80 could’ve been $200. That’s an additional 150% in revenue! Do you think you can scale your business faster with an additional 150% in revenue per customer?

$80/hour for the average 40-hour work week and 50 weeks/year would earn you a respectable $160,000 a year.

Bump that to $200/hour and now you’re making $400,000/year.

Note: It only takes $240,000/year to qualify as part of the top 1% of earners in America.

See how making one small change to their approach could have a massive impact on their bottom line? $400,000 sounds a LOT better than $160,000.

Yes, eventually I’ll opt for the teeth sealant and Invisalign, but those are mostly cosmetic expenses I don’t deem necessary. Especially when compared to the pik and brush I’ll use every day.

Again, 100% of the people who visit that office also need those two items. Moreover, every visit is another opportunity to sell replacement tooth brush heads, and water pik nozzles.

Let me ask, what are the tiny items you’ve been overlooking and letting customers buy from a competitor that could impact your bottom line?

Go ahead and take a minute. I’ll wait, and then we can talk about a similar scenario that happened at my chiro’s office.

Back Adjustments & Missed Scaling Opportunities

When I go to my chiro’s office it’s always a very pleasant and familiar experience. Over the years I’ve actually come to know both the doctor, his beautiful wife, their staff, and even his mother and father who help out in the therapy room.

The doc and I talk about cars, our families, the good times, and the bad. We’ve even discussed some of his Marketing as of late, which is always fun for me.

Anyways, the similarities between the dentist’s office and the chiro are abundant, but in the chiro’s office I feel more like family than a patient.

This last visit was particularly interesting because the doc and I have been talking about his marketing efforts lately. He was recently approached by a marketing agency that promised him “30 new clients in 30 days.”

That’s a good hook. The deliverables are specific, “30 clients…”, as is the timeframe in which they’ll deliver them, “…in 30 days”. Done and done.

The only problem with their pitch was this company didn’t bother to listen to the doctor’s needs. How’s that you ask? Well, my chiro’s a unicorn of the marketing world. He runs a very successful shop based solely on word of mouth.

That’s right, he spends $0 on ads, has a very outdated website, and does virtually zero traditional marketing in any sense, yet runs an extremely profitable business.

In all honesty, this guy and his wife have built the definition of the American dream, and I’m always in awe of people who’ve accomplished this. It’s not impossible, but requires a level of dedication and focus that most people aren’t willing to apply. They’d rather punch a clock and watch reality TV.

Not us though, right?! That’s what makes us Automated Exec’s!

So, when I check into the chiro’s office I always use a tablet now. With some multiple-choice questions I tell them what my issues and (literal) pain points are, that info is sent to the doc’s tablet, and I walk back into a semi-private room.

The doc comes in, and we update each other on what’s new.

Him: “My daughter is only 3 and not only insanely adorable (check out these pics), but she already stands up to my hip.”(That’s how we dads brag to each other. I love it.) “Also, I saw your wife’s social posts about your boy, she’s a proud Mamma, eh?”

Me: “That’s awesome, and yeah, my wife loves updating the world with pics of our son.”

Him: “How come you’re not in any of them? LOL!”

Me: “HAHAHAHAHA! That’s by design, I hate being on social media. BTW, how did I throw out my back while sitting on the pooper? HAHAHAHAH!!!”

Him: “HAHAHAHAHAH!!! John (who’s sitting in the next room), did you hear that?”

Seriously, that’s how our last exchange went. Real talk, real quick to keep the office moving forward, and all genuine. I LOVE IT THERE!

Here’s where the interesting part of our exchange came and the opportunity was missed on his part though. After the doc adjusted my back we head to the other end of the office where I’ll be plugged into electric stimulation pads.

No joke, I have two electrodes slapped on the lower part of my back, then the technician cranks up the volume until just before it hurts. And oh man does it feel good.

Remember the 6-minute abs commercials back in the day? The ones that had guys and gals with 8-pack abs and a wide belt wrapped around them promising the same ripped abs for you in 6-minutes per day without ever doing a sit up? Yeah, same thing here but no abs. HA!

After the doc hooked me up to the pads, we finished our chat, and I had another 4:20 on the clock.

While sitting in the private room though, the doc swung back in for 12 seconds to tell me that they had just hired a new massage therapist and I should let him know if my wife and I would like to take advantage?

HECK YES! Sign me up!

Guess what though? I didn’t take him up on the offer. Why? Because while I’d love a good massage to work out the rest of my chronic back pain, I didn’t know what the cost was, how long the sessions were, could I fit one into my schedule, or was any of it covered by insurance?

Effectively, I was left with more questions than answers, and one of the fundamental principals of Marketing is a confused mind never buys. Another way of saying this is with the KISS method – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Keep your sales and marketing as simple as possible so people can understand it quickly and buy when the time is right.

Another Upsell Opportunity Missed

Ok, let’s say the doc made $50 on my visit: $33 for my co-pay; and $17 from my insurance.

Again, considering my exchange with the front office, the doc, and the therapy staff takes all of 15 minutes, that’d be the equivalent of earning $200/hour, or the same $400,000/year.

What if I opted for the massage though? Well, given that the typical massage is around $100/hour, that would’ve increased the sale from $50 to $150 on my visit.

That’s a 300% increase in revenue!

How hard would it be for the doctor to automate adding the ability for his patients to opt-in to additional treatments, like massages?

Well, every time I walk into the office I tell the doc what’s hurting. If they added one more screen that allowed me to opt-in to all the services that were available at the time of my visit, they’d have to hire more staff to keep up with demand.

Maybe I wouldn’t have time for an hour-long massage on every visit, but I might have an extra few bucks and minutes to spend on additional stimulation therapy, or that crazy back stretching machine.

The fact is, even with offices that never run a marketing campaign, there are dozens of small changes that can be implemented today to make them more profitable, and deliver better customer experience.

What Changes Can You Make Today?

Those were just two real-world examples I experienced in just a few hours yesterday and how these businesses were missing out on major opportunities.

I actually see these missed opportunities with almost every interaction I have with other business owners. Folks like my landscaper, pest control company, window cleaners, HVAC company, and more. Those should all be services provided by the same organization.

Upsell after upsell is available with any business, so what small offerings can you add to your business that’ll make a massive impact on the bottom line?

Not sure what upsells you should offer? No problem. Just ask your customers. I’m not kidding. Ask them, and they’ll tell you exactly what you should be selling them.

Share with the community what they say in the comments below!

Talk soon!

Thomas Buttino – Upsell Advocate

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Thomas Buttino

From a very young age, Thomas has spent his time putting all he's learned about business, psychology, and leadership into effect to try and have an impact on the world.

Now, he's launched The Automated Executive Program to help other business owners gain useful, actionable insights into the world of digital marketing. Join Thomas on this journey of personal and professional development.

Discover a new, more automated way forward so you, too, can begin enjoying more of the most precious thing in life - TIME.

Thomas Buttino

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