“It’s the little things that make the big things possible. Only close attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class.” — J. Willard Marriot
We’re often drawn back to the hotel and accommodation industry for quotes, and comments, and standards that apply universally across many industries.
And it’s a universal truth that what works in most industries will work in all.
The catch cry:
“But my industry is different.”
is as much a furphy* as it is a lie?
All industries are bound by the same principles.
Similar furphies such as:
“But my business is different.” and
“But my location is different.” and
“But my customers are different.” and
“But my staff are different.”
are simply ghosts of excuses that do not bear any weight when it comes down to the nitty gritty of business.
What J.W. Marriott said above is just as true today as it was way back when he first said it.
There are plenty of businesses out there glossing up their presentations, but it’s the attention to the fine details and the minutia of their operations that really sets them apart from their competition.
It’s those small details, which do not go unnoticed, but rather have customers saying to themselves:
“WOW!! This place is truly different.”
that sets your business apart and allows it to stand head and shoulders out in the crowd amongst its competitors.
In dentistry, when your business is truly different, your patients know that you are not just providing random and occasional acts of kindness.
Moreover, during their visit, they come to understand that what they are experiencing is a well thought out and prepared sequence of magical moments that your team is orchestrating to ensure that their visit is truly a World Class Experience.
And not simply just another visit to the local dentist.
Do You Have A Plan?
Is your patient visit a well thought out sequence of events that everyone on your team is one hundred percent up to date with?
Or are some team members simply there to participate as “bit players” or “extras” in the theatre of your Dental business?
The team needs to be aware of the scripted routine that each visitor to your office must travel along, so that their visit to the dentist is more than simply a necessary evil, or an inconvenience to their busy day.
Your place of business, your Dental practice should be such a pleasant place that your patients wake in the morning looking forward to their visit to you as the highlight of their day.
And not be dreading it.
A visit to your Dental Office should be like a visit to see an old dear friend.
It should be a place to connect and re-connect with friends and dear friends.
And I don’t mean “dear” as in “expensive”….
I mean “dear” as in “dear to my heart”…
Are your patients invested in you and your team members as true people for who you are rather than simply what you do?
Are they concerned for you and your families?
And are you concerned also about them?
Remember, friendship is a two way street.
Do you know more about your patients other than the fact you placed a PFM on the UR6 last year?
Do you know that her father is battling with bowel cancer?
And her mother has osteo-arthritis?
Or is your head buried so far into up your own personal trash that you don’t even consider that there’s a human being with feelings attached to those teeth that you repaired just now?
What sort of information do you know about your customers?
A friend of mine in Florida [who is not a dentist] attends his local dental office twice a year, but reckons that his dentist would not recognise him in the mall even if my friend walked right up to the dentist and slapped his face.
And he’s been seeing that dentist for over eight years!
But the dentist only checks my friend’s teeth every other visit and even then for only like ninety seconds at a time, without even hanging around long enough to be warming the doctor’s stool, let alone to be finding out how my friend is or what’s been happening in his life.
So when it was time for my friend’s wife to have some cosmetic dentistry done, they chose to go to a Dental Office twenty miles away, rather than the local dentist where my friend had his regular check-ups.
The real “pearl” in what J.W. Marriott said above, is that the fine detail is usually associated with the customer.
The more that you spend time getting to know your customer, the more the customer will certainly feel that they have had a first class experience at your Dental office.
*furphy is Australian slang for a rumour, or an erroneous or improbable story, but usually claimed to be absolute fact. Furphies are usually heard first or secondhand from reputable sources and, until discounted, widely believed.
“Walk away from the 97% crowd. Don’t use their excuses. Take charge of your own life.” — Jim Rohn
This quote came back across my desk this week.
And it really has been a guiding principle for success in business for me.
There’s a corollary in life.
95% of the population get to age 65 and are unable to afford to retire to the lifestyle they have lived while working.
And Omer Reed said the same figure is true for dentists.
I read this week about a dentist who owns successful dental practices in several “less popular” areas that are not as ritzy or classy as other areas.
But he’s doing very well financially despite the fact that his dentist friends think he should be working in a more glamorous part of the world.
Put simply, he did his research, and it’s paying dividends for him.
Dan Kennedy says that if you want to know how to be successful in your business, just find out what everybody else in town is doing, and then do the opposite.
Because that point of differentiation is really what sets you out from the crowd.
So for marketing, if you live in an area where nobody is doing letterbox flyers for Dentists, then guess what?
There’s a huge opportunity to target that market.
Because there’s a reason why Coles and Target, and tree removers do letterbox drops *CONSISTENTLY*.
It’s because consistently they still work.
A great marketing piece will work if it gets put in front of the right people on a regular basis.
But most dentists send out one really poor piece and say letterbox drops don’t work.
Their piece has no Headline. It has no call to action. It has no WIIFM. And it has no information or story.
97% of dentists are not doing good quality marketing.
97% of the population do not write down their goals, and review them on a daily basis.
99% of the population do not employ a coach for their lives or their businesses.
99% of golfers cannot break 95 for 18 holes.
It’s said that a lawyer who defends himself in court has a fool for a client.
And a business owner who tries to do it all on their own could fall into the same category.
The best surges that I had in my business career came at the times when I sought out coaches and used them, and the times that I regularly masterminded with the elite in my profession.
And by masterminding I do not mean screen time.
I mean hotel meeting room time.
97% of Dentists either don’t do continuing education or do only clinical CE, without any thought of the mastery of business.
And those that do focus on business focus too much on the business of business and not enough on the most vital component in that business.
And that’s the customer.
I built a very successful dental practice in an average working class part of Sydney by focusing my business entirely on pleasing the customer….
While the other 97% were not focusing on the technical, or nothing.
Focusing on anything but their customers..
Focusing on providing a consistent watertight World Class Customer Service Experience for your patients, and not just worrying about the technicalities of dentistry, will truly set your dental practice head and shoulders apart from those others in your area.
Remember people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you really care.
How much does your Dental Office really care?
Wonder why you’re at a sticking point in your business?
You’re probably hanging with the ninety seven percent.
And our patients spell care and compassion the same way:
Take a look around your dental office.
Are you and your team spending time with your valuable patients?
Or are you rushing?
Are you rushing them in and out of your operatories?
Are you rushing them at their checkout?
Are you in a hurry when you greet them as they arrive?
Are you rushing their examinations in the hygiene room?
There are many instances of us “being in a hurry” when it comes to our dealings with patients.
And sometimes we are in too much of a hurry.
Sometimes we are in so much of a hurry that we actually ignore the fact that we are indeed dealing with a human being, with a person, and not just a tooth, or teeth, and a credit card.
And if you think that your patients don’t notice you’re rushing them, well think again.
Sixty eight percent of patients who leave a dental practice and go elsewhere for their treatment do so because of apathy and perceived apathy that they feel from the staff and the dentists where they have been going.
Here are some of those moments:
Are you in a hurry when you greet your patients when they arrive?
Is your office guilty of just “parking” your patients once they arrive at your practice?
So many times when I visit a dental office to consult I see patients arrive only to be “brushed” into the “waiting room” where they then have to sit for what seems like an eternity being entertained by some old tatty out of date tabloid magazines or worse still, a blaring television set.
How can that be a welcoming arrival?
More often than not the arriving patient has to identify themselves by name, despite the fact that the Dental Office already knows who they are [they have an appointment schedule, after all…].
How much nicer would it be if our front office person was able to “beat the greet” with the arriving patient:
“Hi Mrs. Smith. So good to see you. How has your day been so far?”
“Please, make yourself comfortable, and I’ll go and let Dr. Moffet know that you’re here”
“I’m about to make myself a cup of tea. Would you like one as well?”
Isn’t that so much more pleasant than:
“Won’t be too long. Just take a seat.”
Wouldn’t it be more courteous then to be concierging the waiting patient, instead of simply just parking them?
It’s so easy to raise the amount of “connection” we have with our arriving patients, rather than just “parking” them and allowing a significant “disconnect” to occur.
Are you rushing your patients in and out of your operatories?
I’ll bet that if you are working out of only one treatment room then this is indeed what you are doing to your valued patients.
After all, their treatment is now over.
The chair is needed for the next patient.
And we’ve got to tear down the room and set it up again in warp speed time.
Not to mention get the next patient in too.
This changeover really does look like a formula one pit change.
But without the professionalism and the timing.
How can being rushed into, or out of, for that matter, a dental treatment room, be anything but uninspiring for the patient?
After all, time is money, so there’s no time for chitchat, is there?
Rushing your patients around at the start and the end of the appointment is hardly World Class.
Nobody likes being rushed out of a restaurant after an early dinner sitting, do they?
Nobody likes to feel as if there is someone hovering over their seat, be it the next diner, or just some auspicious maître de holding a stopwatch.
Remember, patients spell “care”: T.I.M.E.
Are you rushing your patients’ examinations in the hygiene room?
A friend of mine in Florida told me that when he goes to his dentist for his six monthly clean, he feels that the dentist just breezes in and breezes out of the examination in record time without any effort to try to connect with my friend [the patient].
So much so, that my friend said that if he saw the dentist at the mall, he reckons that the dentist would not even recognise my friend even if my friend walked up and slapped the dentist’s face.
Now that’s a very sad case of affairs.
But that apathy of the dentist cost him dearly.
When it was time for my friend’s wife to have some serious dental work done, they chose to go to a dentist twenty miles away to get some veneers and cosmetic work worth over $21,000.00
Now that’s an expensive dose of apathy right there….
Are you rushing your patients at their checkout?
Nobody likes to feel tossed out onto the street straight after a dental appointment.
After all, how would that feel?
You’ve got a numb face, and you’re a few hundred dollars lighter….
But apart from that, you’d be thinking:
“What just happened?”
At my practice we had our front office area set up for comfortable, across the table, seated transactions and arrangements to be made.
In a private glass walled room.
None of this peering over an antiquated upstand, with a gaggle of leering patients waiting behind you…
Because of this private relaxed environment, we found that patients took their time checking out, and in so doing, they bonded with our dental front office team.
And that bond resulted in more appointments being made, and less being cancelled and rescheduled.
The removal of the upstand from the front desk, and the separation of the outgoing transaction and arrangements away from the meddling ears and eyes of a bunch of waiting patients, both made for a far more conducive environment for discussing treatment and finances and payments.
Again because the check out took place in a private room there was ample opportunity to build trust with the patient.
So, how are things at your Dental Office?
Are you inadvertently rushing your valued patients?
How many of your actions are rubbing patients the wrong way, in a sad sad way?
Fortunately our other dining experiences in Melbourne were not all bad.
We did visit another hatted restaurant twice on that trip that provided us with exemplary service.
Let me share…
When I speak on dentistry and customer service, and templating your appointment book, and pre-blocking, I always share the story about how well Balthazar in Manhattan and how MoVida in Melbourne do the “same-day-I-don’t-have-a-booking” thing so so well.
It’s a great story.
It ties perfectly in to the fact that as dentists we need to keep blank “same-day-emergency-time” unfilled in our dental appointment schedules.
And so last week we went to MoVida, not just once, but twice.
[And by the way, the portabella mushrooms were divine!]
Both times, we arrived without a reservation time.
On our first visit, when we arrived without a booking, we were asked to leave our name and phone number and we’d be phoned when a seat at the bar became available [for dining].
When we returned twenty minutes later, after our phone call, we were pleasantly surprised to be seated in the restaurant rather than at the bar. Apparently someone with a reservation had failed to attend.
Our waitress Ellie, was the perfect host.
Friendly and courteous, along with a great knowledge of the menu.
Her table service matched our moods perfectly.
At the end of the evening, as we departed, my wife looked to the kitchen to wave goodbye to Ellie.
Ellie came out from the kitchen, and she and my wife shared a hug.
You don’t see that sort of connection often.
When we returned to MoVida three nights later, again, without pre-booking, we were pleasantly seated for dinner immediately, this time at the bar area, and attended to by Carlo and Ellie, and others.
The food, as usual, was superb, again, and the service by Carlo was entertaining.
Ellie told us that after we had left on the previous time we visited, that all the staff remarked that we were their favourite diners for the night.
And on this night Carlo was surprised when we told him we were from Sydney.
“You seem too nice…..”
What a joker!
It wasn’t so much, I think, that we were good customers.
I think the real thing was that Carlo, and Ellie, and everyone at MoVida follows Mary Kaye Ash’s golden rule:
They make their guests feel important.
And that’s what it’s all about.
Make your customers feel important and they’ll return and return and return.
We certainly did.
What are you doing in your dental practice to make your customers feel important?
How are you going above and beyond your customers’ expectations?
What are you doing for your customers to make them feel important?
Or are they leaving your practice with that low cloud of apathy hanging right on top above them?
Sixty eight percent of clients of a business that leave and switch vendors do so purely because of a feeling of apathy that they receive [and perceive] from the personnel working in that business.
As a dentist, I can vividly remember receiving information about a follow up call with Ken and Mollie Smith, who we had not seen at the Dental practice for some time.
Molly told us:
“We’re going somewhere else now. We hadn’t heard from Dr. Moffet for a while.”
“We thought he didn’t care about us any more”
I don’t know the reason why both Ken and Mollie had been allowed to slip out of our system all those years ago, but obviously there had been a Service Disconnect and a Service Failure on our behalf to allow them to do so.
Did they leave without a booking?
Did they call and cancel an already scheduled appointment, and not be put into a follow-up sequence?
All I know is that our system failed Ken and Mollie.
And in doing so, it failed us, at our Dental Office.