This Is How I Learned The Single Most Important Business Lesson A Private Practice Physician Could Learn

a year ago   •   2 min read

By Ernesto Gutierrez, MD
Photo by Alonso Reyes / Unsplash
Table of contents

“I just don’t get it… Why do they keep saying they’ll do it at home instead of doing it here with me?”

It was the end of my third two-week cruise working onboard the Celebrity Infinity and I was yet to make an actual sale.

This was my first real job as a physician. But it was not with the ship’s medical staff. Instead, I was the onboard Botox Guy (a position officially called Medi-Spa Doctor). Being in my late 20’s and single, with a job that had me traveling around the world, with no living expenses was a dream come true.

But six weeks in, it wasn’t feeling as dreamy…

“Patients say we are too expensive.”

That’s what my whiny ass wrote in the end-of-cruise email to my boss in Miami. I hit send and sat there, staring at the wall, feeling completely lost…

After what felt like an hour, I took a deep breath, fixed my tie and walked down to the shops. There I saw Hector finishing up with an older couple who had just bought matching Omega watches. I looked through the watches as he wrapped things up and said goodbye to them.

“I’m done with this crap. I’m going home.” I said as soon as the couple was out of earshot.

“Nobody wants to pay twice as much for the same product they can get at home and my boss won’t let me discount the price!” I continued.

Hector and I met during one of my first days onboard. He had been working at the shops onboard for a couple of contracts already and he always had some wisdom to share. So when he paused from what he was doing, I listened intently.

“Nonsense bro. If that was true I wouldn’t sell a single watch.”

I must admit I was expecting some strategy, a magic word to close a sale, or some other trick that could make my patients want to buy from me. But nevertheless, he made a point. Especially after I saw him bag not one, but two, luxury watches.

“Come to think of it… Yeah… How the hell do you sell those watches when guests can get the exact same model at any of the ports for less?”

“Yeah. They can get it for less. But not from me.”

To this day, I don’t think he even knows the impact those four words had. But that night, in January of 2009, cruising at some point along the coast of Argentina, I learned the most valuable business lesson so far in my medical career:

As a physician, I need to sell my experience and my expertise; not my products or services.

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