The Other Side of Our Profession.

Wisconsin Models Ideal Dental Credit Association

Evils of Loose Business Methods are Pointed Out by

Edwin J. Blass, D.D.S., in

“THE OTHER SIDE OF OUR PROFESSION”

 

                Personal credit is of most primitive origin. Its fundamental purpose was for generating trust among people as to an honest intention and a safe return of property lent, either in its original form or the equivalent thereof. Credit was founded upon faith rather than on financial strength.

At a later period, through losses incurred in man’s all too frequent failure to meet his obligations, tremendous losses were incurred. A better basis was then devised which had a specific effect upon safety of individual credit and created a healthy public sentiment in regard to loaning anything of a material value.

There have always been all sorts and varieties of people, subject to social and political phases of life. Some ask credit on merits, some on account of poverty and misery and others with very questionable thoughts in mind.

Credit is ought for almost every want and desire of the human brain. It ranges from the actual necessities of life, to luxury of every sort and device. When one pays cash for what he buys he rarely will purchase more than his income warrants. But, when credit is resorted to, he will often resort to luxuries and unnecessaries that his means will not justify. In the latter case the one giving credit, if based only upon faith in the individual, is going to be the loser.

A good presence, a bold manner, and an assertive method of expression have a powerful effect upon the one who is asked for credit, and he often grants such a request without reliable knowledge or specific evidence that the obligation will be met. Statistics gathered from a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce reveals the fact that untold millions are lost each year through abused credit.

Mercantile agencies can, with reasonable safety, classify dealers, whoesalers and jobbers, but attempting to accomplish a safe credit basis with the army in labor, business, and professional life, is an undertaking that offers tremendous difficulty and has, hitherto, met with no success.

This condition will continue and our profession will suffer until rigid restraint is placed upon the seeker of credit. There is only one system that can possibly endure. Cash services or collateral of value thereof, regular and uninterrupted payments or payment upon a date agreed upon by parties concerned, and the safety of these considerations assured the grantor. Any other method will result in no redress from the present chaotic condition.

Our efforts to thwart the cancerous growth of the abused credit virus are confined to the dental profession. In the days of yesterday the requirements for living were of a simple nature. The training, equipment and duties of the pioneer dentist were cured in comparison to the needs and requirements of the modern educated and highly technical dental surgeon. The members of this branch of the healing art occupy a position in society comparing favorably with and superior to many of the other callings in life. The time involved to attain the coveted sheepskin is lengthy. The cost involved in college preparation is large, and the equipment necessary to perform our duties is so expensive that one finds the cost preparatory to hanging out the shingle involving several thousands of dollars.

Society expects us to live up to a standard worthy of our station in life. With due respect to the memory of our professional ancestors, and offering no criticism of their adherence to the axioms of Hippocrates, changed conditions demand of us an application of recognized business principles in the conduct of our practice, if we wish to attain any degree of what the world calls success.

Adopting a businesslike policy in no way lessens our professional status. A call relieves distress at home or in the office is incumbent upon each and every one of us. To continue the practice of performing dental services and being assured of no positive security of recompense, borders on and invites sure financial suicide and demands immediate correction.

One but needs visualize the ever-obliging and credit-giving local merchant, and compare his status with that of the chain store octopus who has spread his tentacles to every book and corner of the country. A man bereft of sight can almost see the one disappearing from the horizon as has the horse and buggy, while the one who exchanges his commodity for cash looms brightly to the foreground.

Dentistry Will Suffer for Lack of Business Methods

This scene will be re-enacted for the dentists in no distant future if they continue their unwarranted, unwise and unfair practice of granting credit without a definite, concise and positive assurance that such consideration to patient will be satisfied.

We recognize the insidiousness of the disease, but do I hear one ask, is there a cure for the malady? Is there a remedy based upon a theoretical solution of the problem, or a cure founded upon logic and proven by the testimonials of hundreds of dentists who have used the lotion and corrected the ills?

The returns from monthly statements barely pays for the expense of stamps involved. The recourse to collection agencies has made the hairs on many a dentist fairly rise when such a method is even suggested. However careless one becomes in not paying for services, when he becomes conscious that such conduct is going to record his mane as a delinquent and unworthy of any future credit with every dentist in the community, his attitude towards a disregard of obligations changes.

To avoid such ignominy, our experience has shown he will make a determined effort to clear his account and he usually succeeds. Instead of paying the dentist last, as has been the seemingly the universal custom, our plan of subjecting a penalty for non-payment has unclosed the purse strings of many a delinquent.

The Dental Credit Association is a product of Wisconsin and was born at Portage, September 1, 1931. It was organized for the specific purpose of aiding and abetting dentists in their struggle to overcome economic abuses. The dynamic force of its principles, its amazing effect in ridding communities of deadbeats, an experience of creating a greater number of cash dental operations, and in collecting accounts of long standing, soon spread in all directions until now Wisconsin is quite thoroughly organized. Similar organizations are now in scattered locations all over the United States and I have every reason to believe that in time our efforts will bear fruit national in scope and application.

But, a few years ago, everyone seemingly had money to spend, and any “Get Rich Quick” policy found no dearth of customers. We were madly in pursuit of wealth and pleasure, heedless of the storm that often follows the ray of sunshine. With no warning, seemingly from a clear sky, the hurricane swept down upon us wreaking its fury upon a disillusioned people and spared but few in its toll of vengeance.

The crash of the financial structures shocked the very foundations of every home-loving individual either directly or indirectly, and left in its path a chaotic condition marked by its severity.

Washington exemplified his greatness as a leader in the hour of need, Lincoln rose from obscurity to a hollowed place in the hearts of all men. The accident of death of a president placed Teddy Roosevelt in the chair and gave to the country a personality of constructive leadership excelled by none.

The crying need of the hour is for a leader who will be a reincarnation of Moses and lead the American people through the Red Sea of unrest, time only will tell whether or not the present incumbent in office will loom up future generations as a glowing satellite, revered as the immortals of old.

The foundations for national prosperity is based upon work for the laborer, a profitable market for merchandise and products of the soil, and an income worthy of the calling in professional life. The farmer cannot paint his barns, repair his fences nor patronize his dentist when the market is below cost of production. The wheels of industry cannot turn then merchandise stands idle upon the shelves of stores. The dentist who played Santa Claus to the many, even in the days of affluence can no longer adorn the pages of his ledger with names of those he served and who have been loath or unable to pay.

No efforts through governmental agencies to stimulate a weakened financial condition can be expected by the dental fraternity. Recognition of the gross abuse of credit has culminated to a point of organized attention by dental societies everywhere, but especially active, and markedly successful in Wisconsin.

Dental Credit Groups are Run Without Profit

Dental credit associations are bereft of all complexities such as frequently characterize collection agencies. We affiliate with no other profession or place of business, for experience has taught us its folly. Except in the larger metropolitan areas where a full or part time secretary is employed to furnish members with the names of patients on delinquent lists, there are no salaried officers. The only expense to the members is the nominal fee charged for the list of over-due accounts that is furnished every office for its personal use. No commissions are charged to the accounts collected. The entire amount is paid to the dentist.

The plan and procedure of dental credit associations are honorable, businesslike, and entirely within the law. Dental credit associations are a specific for the disease of credit abuse, and have received the commendation of dental publications, supply houses and dental laboratories, not to mention the hundreds of dentists who have realized thousands of dollars by such affiliation.

Since the first announcement was given to dental publications on the accomplishments of organized effort, letters from all over the United States have poured in upon the writer and founder of the organization, asking for a like treatment  of their financial ills. He has responded to calls for personal contact with dental groups all over Wisconsin and many other places. Steps were immediately taken to stamp out the malady in the form prescribed by a dental credit association.

After four years of groping in the dark, dentists are now thoroughly aroused by the ruinous effects of dental credit abuse and the subsequent effect of a lack of cash, which in many cases has resulted in difficulty to meet personal obligations.

We predict that in a short period of time, every dentist will adopt measures such as are promulgated by dental credit associations.

If a New Deal or a Square Deal is of paramount importance to restore confidence and to avoid a national catastrophe, a new viewpoint on dental economics must be exercised by each and every one of us, if we wish to realize a restored prosperity that should now be “Just around the corner.”

 

Edwin J. Blass,

Portage, Wisconsin