“When is the right time and when is the wrong time to be social with your Dental Team?”
Is there a right or a wrong answer?
One of the most difficult issues I see is the delineation between being a BOSS and being a FRIEND at the Dental Office.
There are times when it’s nice to be on friendly terms with the staff.
But I hear of times where the staff will push the boundaries and take advantage of the “friendship” with their employer to obtain advantages.
What are these advantages?
One is extra time off away from the business.
“Can I leave early to pick up my child from day care?”
This soon turns into
“I’ll be a little late tomorrow for work because I have to drop my child off at school….”
Once. Then again. And then regularly.
“We’re going away for the weekend, can I leave a little early to beat the traffic?”
Soon can become,
“I’ve booked my trip to the Maldives. Can I have the time off?”
Some staff would never dare push the envelope.
And other employers are reading this and saying:
“That’s what’s going on in my office at the moment…”
Here’s how I see it:
My wife was a schoolteacher.
When she signed up to work as a schoolteacher she had an employer.
My wife did not own her own school.
So she had to work when her employer told her to work.
And that was during school terms.
It’s the same for the police and the same for the fire brigades.
In Australia, firemen are a team. They work a set roster for life.
Two days on. Two nights on. Four days off.
An eight-day rotating roster.
Rotating together each week.
Work seven months then have four weeks off.
Yet in dentistry it has somehow been allowed to be different.
Aren’t we a team at our office?
We’re a close-knit unit.
We know each other and we rely on each other.
And we know that when one team member is away our product, which is our service, is never as good as when they are all there together….
And who suffers?
Our patients suffer.
Our patients receive less than ideal service when one of our regular team is not there.
We know this.
Our Office then suffers.
Our Office loses its “reputation”.
“You know, something wasn’t quite right at the Dentist today?”
And when our patients feel this way…
Our business suffers and our Dentist also suffers.
Our business suffers when our patients feel disappointment. We need to avoid doing anything that creates that disappointment.
Having a tight knit team that your patients know and love is a very powerful advantage.
Patients love familiarity.
We are all creatures of habit, but sometimes, as business owners we fail to remember how important familiarity is to our customers and patients.
Make sure that when you are employing and growing your practices that your patients are being introduced to your team and know your team as your team grows.
Another issue I see is unclear role responsibilities.
I worked at a practice recently where a patient said to a Dental Assistant:
“I haven’t seen you here before. Are you new?”
And the Dental Assistant replied:
“No. I’ve been here for two years.”
This was because at this practice staff were moved around from one role to another so much that there was no regularity and familiarity built with the customers and patients.
Patients were never able to get to know their Dental Assistants.
Dental Assistants would work with a different dentist each day, as they felt like it.
And this lack of familiarity with the patients and lack of consistency was reflected in the numbers at this practice.
High numbers of patients were leaving without appointments and were failing to re-appoint for treatment.
The practice had low case acceptance and treatment acceptance numbers.
When we looked at making the dental assistant and Dentists in this office into specific teams of two, the improvements in our results were dramatic.
Appointments were made immediately and not delayed.
Case acceptance and treatment acceptances rose dramatically.
And cancellations and reschedules fell.
In this office, prior to the permanent pairings, dentists would have a different Dental Assistant each day, and sometimes two per day.
One dentist complained to me that she sometimes had three different Dental Assistants for one patient!
When we put a stop to this and created these teams as pairs, and we reminded the Dental Assistants that their actions were not showing respect to the patients and to the business and to the dentists, we witnessed dramatic improvements.
Sometimes in life we make a series of small decisions that lead us dramatically away from our original intention.
Without us realising.
And we suddenly find ourselves so far off course.
In this case, the Dental Office failed to reflect on the Practice Vision and the Practice Mission.
When we have a strong Vision, and strong Core Values, all else falls into place much more easily.
When we do not have clear values, everything becomes blurry.
And we end up way of course.
A great leader keeps the team on track.
And the good news is that leaders are never born.
They are always made.
And so it is possible to make a good leader out of anyone.
Anyone can develop the characteristics and traits of a great leader.
This week I received a very important email from one of my loyal dentist subscribers and followers.
It was a question that ties in so fundamentally to the foundation of our existence as business owners.
Because without the answer to this question our businesses are really only ships adrift at sea, floating aimlessly towards rocks and storms.
And that’s not good…
Here is the question:
“I needed to ask you about my purpose or vision for my dental practice.
I am lost; don’t know what is my purpose. Itcan’t be money that would be like they say politically incorrect to say.
The other, is to serve patients and be the best dental office in town.
I am kind of fuzzy when it comes to vision, which is so needed for staff to see.
The writer almost answers his own question.
Firstly, he points out that the vision or purpose of the business needs to be more than the money.
Having the right purpose to the business will result in the generation of long-term customers.
These customers will be happy to pay for their services they receive. With money.
Secondly, my writer points out the importance of the vision, or purpose, to the staff at his Dental Office.
Staff are always looking for leadership and direction.
By providing and referring repeatedly to the business’s vision, or purpose, the business owner provides that sought after leadership.
The Disney Institute has a simple definition:
“A company’s Service Vision serves as a rallying point across the organisation by being the one thing that all employees have in common no matter what the individual job or title may be.”
Put simply a business’s Vision Statement is a clear purpose as to why that business exists.
When James McManemon, then General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton was asked:
“If you were starting a new business, any business, and wanted to make customer service your value proposition, what would you do first?”
His response was:
“The first thing I would do is create the Service Vision for the Company. Be crystal clear with what the company’s vision is, and be able to articulate that extremely well. Then I would hire talent based on that same belief, only adding employees that share those service values, and finally create the processes and training to achieve that Service Vision.”
So What Do We As Business Owners Need To Do?
The Dental Office needs to have that Vision Statement.
It’s not to be a statement designed by the team.
It needs to come from above.
It needs to come from the owner.
It must be reflective of the owner’s mission.
What sort of legacy does the owner want the business to be known for?
Obviously there must be congruence with the vision statement from the owner being in alignment with the values and beliefs of the team.
If there is incongruence, then we have disharmony and imbalance, which can reveal themselves at less than appropriate moments.
Therefore, the team, the employees, the owner and the vision statements need to be as one.
United we stand!
A business that lacks this congruence only operates under self-inflicted pressures.
And that’s not good for staff, and not good for customers.
Having a great business plan and clear vision sets your business upon a very healthy path.
So do not skim over this vitally important piece of business ownership.
When I see a business without a clear mission, without a clear purpose, I see a business with an inherent culture problem that acts like an anvil around the neck.
Take the time, the necessary time, to develop the TRUE purpose of your business.
And discover the power, and the clarity, that your business gains from having created that clearly defined purpose.
One of the core principles of providing World Class Customer Service is this:
“The desire to put the interests of others before the interests of ourselves.”
And for our customers to know this fact.
And for them to realise this fact and then own it.
When this happens, when the customer has that moment of realisation that you are indeed putting in an effort that is “going that little bit further”, this is when the customer starts to take notice.
When you consistently go that little bit further, on more than one moment and on more than one occasion, this is when the customer REALLY starts to sit up and take real notice.
Consistently exceeding the customers’ expectations on multiple occasions, repeatedly, is what creates avid disciples and “Raving Fans” for your business.
These Raving Fans help to build your brand in the marketplace, and in the community.
Ask a Raving Fan a question:
“Do you know a good plumber?”
“Do you know a good painter?”
“Do you know a good dentist?”
And you can bet that they’ll not only know a good one, they’ll also have a great story or a list of reasons why their Number 1 is indeed the only one in that category that you should ever ever use.
But I hear you ask:
“We do not know who our Raving Fans are going to be?”
Of course not…
And that’s why we need to treat all of our customers as if they are going to be our Number 1. Raving Fans.
Because all of our customers could easily turn into our best customers and raving fans.
You see, you never know when going that little bit extra is going to hit the mark for one of your customers.
Nor do we know for which customer that going that little bit extra is going to register.
But I can sure as eggs tell you that failing to “go the distance”, that failing to “WOW!” your clients is the easiest way to promoter a conga-line of unhappy clients actively seeking a new place to do business.
And actively telling their friends why they left you and took their business elsewhere…
Who wants to keep visiting a business where you leave feeling:
“Nobody there seems to care much”
“Everybody there seems to be too busy”
What sort of a reputation is that to have for your business?
We should never allow our businesses to grow to be so large and so impersonal that our customers feel that we do not care any more.
All interactions within our business need to be conducted with a maximum degree of care and concern for the other person’s well being.
And I’m talking here about interactions both between employees and customers as well as interactions between employees and each other as well.
We need to always have in mind that whatever we do enhances the day for the person we interact with.
When that shift happens…. when we finally realise that our goal is to impact positively on ALL of those around us… then and only then do we really truly have a World Class Business.
If we do not, then we are only kidding ourselves.
Because the public can sniff out a phony…
So, has your business got what it takes to do it all the time?
Or are you just some B-grade magician trying to make it in the big league?