I’ve spent the past week in Melbourne, meeting up with various thought leaders in Dentistry.
But I wanted to tell you about a moment of special attention that my wife and I received during the week while enjoying a lunch at restaurant Grossi Florentino.
My wife and I had never dined at Grossi before. And so, what unfolded for us, was indeed a real surprise to us.
You see, at the end of our lunch meal, my wife and I were treated to a guided tour of the restaurant.
But not just a tour of the restaurant we ate at, Grill, …. you see, the place where we dined was part of a conglomeration of dining facilities, and we received a right “Royal Tour” of the whole establishment.
Our waitress Amelia happily escorted us firstly to the Florentino restaurant and private dining rooms upstairs.
Then there was the Cellar Bar next door and coffee and breakfast area as well. All separated at the front but interconnected at the rear….. truly amazing.
Finally, we were escorted to the lane behind Grossi, where a very new evening bar had just been opened….very very exciting.
The reason I tell you this is because of the “atmosphere” in which we were treated….an atmosphere of contagious enthusiasm!!
You see, when we first arrived at Grill, and we told the maître de Jeanette that we were from interstate and that this was our first visit to Grossi, she immediately offered us the option of switching to upstairs if we so desired, or better still, she offered to take us on a tour of the whole establishment after we had finished our meal.
Jeanette explained that not only was there an upstairs and a downstairs eatery, but there was also a brasserie, a wine bar, and now a new “secret” that we needed to see.
This was all offered to us purely because we were engaging customers who were engaged by our wonderful hostess…
I suppose that Jeanette would have guessed that there was a likelihood that we could possibly share our story with our friends, which is kind of what I am doing right here right now.
And that a word of mouth recommendation is a very cost effective way of getting your message out there to the masses.
But she probably never thought that I would blog about her great business attitude…
And how much did this tour cost Grossi?
Maybe ten minutes at the end of the lunch shift….that’s about it.
And a few minutes of connection with us at different stages throughout the meal…
What’s my point?
How much does it cost to be “engaged” with your customers?
How much does it cost to give one of your dental patients a “behind the scenes tour” of your dental facility?
And how special do you think that patient is going to feel?
And do you think that patient may tell a few people what you just did to make them feel special?
It doesn’t take much to see the bigger picture.
And when you love your business, as an owner or as an employee, you definitely begin to see the bigger picture.
A little bit of extra attention paid towards the right clients will reap a substantial reward.
Have you got what it takes to put in that small effort in the right places, consistently?
You do have it, and you will put in, if you truly do love your business?
You have to wonder about the nerve of some people out there don’t you?
They say one thing, but history and research has shown that they do the complete opposite.
Imagine this, if you would….
Would you invite a friend over to your place for the day, from 8:00am to 5:00pm, and not have anything to offer them to eat for lunch?
And knowing that your friend was coming by cab, and there are no food outlets within walking distance of your place, would you simply leave your friend to starve?
Would you think it could be prudent to ask your friend to bring a cut lunch?
You see, after all, your friend may eat regular food, and you and your whole household have dietary restrictions.
Or would it simply be appropriate to call your friend a few days before their visit, and ask them if you could get themselves something beforehand and bring it with them?
Especially if your friend was coming from interstate to visit you just for this one day.
As incredulous as this story sounds, it is indeed a true story.
But with one small variation.
The “guest friend” was a dental consultant doing a paid in office visit.
She was invited to spend a day at a suburban dental office where there was no shop within walking distance of the clinic, and having flown interstate the night before and then been couriered out to the practice before most shops were open, it came as a bit of a surprise to the consultant to not even be offered a coffee or a biscuit.
Well, I suppose the dental office thought that they were paying the consultant enough already in transport, accommodation, and the day’s tuition and service, but unless the consultant was Nostradamus she had no idea that starvation was going to be a part of her day.
As far as I know things at this dental office never improved, but at least the consultant had a heads-up to purchase a salad and some crackers at the grocery store the evening before her next visits.
Would you do that in your home?
Or more importantly, would you do that to your patients in your dental office?
It may not be the refreshments.
How are your magazines and reading materials?
Do you cater to readers of several genres?
Or do your magazines only cater to hunters?
How’s your refreshments then?
You know, the person who drank the most coffee at my office was never a patient of my dental practice?
But he did accompany his wife, who was a valued patient, each and every time she attended. And although Brian did not have any teeth of his own, he was a valued attender at our office and he appreciated the attention paid to him…..
If you want visitors to your dental office to feel valued, and you want them to keep returning, then make them feel important, as Mary Kay Ash used to say.
Customers and patients will dump you in a heartbeat if they perceive apathy from you or your staff towards them.
Sure, the consultant was being paid, but heck, she did not have a crystal ball to be able to anticipate her own starvation.
It’s kind of like having a guy do your lawns all day, but not offering him a cool drink or a refreshment?
And sure, the consultant was being paid, but so are the dental team members too, and you’d never treat them in that way, or would you?
The funny thing about this story is that this consultant worked with this office for eighteen months and really turned their numbers around in a skyward direction, yet less than six months after she finished up there the dentist from that office was treading the boards as a “self-made” guru.
With a totally new team under their belt, the dentist in this story certainly is the master of re-invention.
You see one year only after this consultant left that office the whole team there, except for family, has been replaced.
I’m sure the story of the starving consultant is only a case of selective amnesia on behalf of that dentist.
But as a “self-made” guru, I think that dentist needs to selectively remember and acknowledge those who have helped to miraculously sky-rocket them to success.
So many dentists really miss the point about business.
The purpose of any business is to obtain repeat business.
Repeat business provides income that recurs and recurs and recurs.
It is very difficult to be in business without regular customers.
Take garden maintenance for instance.
Lawns grow, trees grow, weeds grow.
Lawns need mowing, trees need pruning and weeds need removing.
Some people choose to do these jobs themselves in their own home, while others hire in outside help to keep the lawns and hedges looking immaculate, and the trees in shape and the weeds out of sight….
Those who run a homecare garden maintenance business have a regular set of clients paying them a continuing stream of revenue to keep their gardens in immaculate condition.
It’s easy to see those homes who use the professionals for their garden maintenance. These homes always look immaculate and the maintenance is done during the week, leaving the owner sufficient weekend time to enjoy his leisure.
While those who do it themselves just don’t seem to have the “presentation”?
In dentistry the repeat business is your database of regular patients.
These are the people who come and see you on a regular basis for hygiene and dental maintenance.
They love your work, they love your office, and they love everything that you do for them.
They trust you implicitly and accept your treatment recommendations and go ahead and book, and keep their appointments.
Usually with no questions asked.
They refer their friends and colleagues to you.
And they know your name…..
A list of regular attendees does not simply happen overnight.
It grows over time.
A great dental practice turns new patients into regular attendees and then into long term patients.
Patients only leave a dental practice when they either move away, or pass away, or feel that they are taken for granted.
When a regular patient feels that they are being taken for granted it usually means that they are feeling ignored or they are feeling a lack of appreciation.
I recently had dinner with a couple who had been long term patients of a dental practice for over thirty years.
Their dental practice had been acquired by a corporation, and in the three times that the woman had been back to that practice she had seen three different dentists who had each raised three different issues about her teeth, none of which she understood and none of which she believed.
She and her husband are now looking for a new dental home.
Did the Corporation understand what they had acquired with this dental practice?
It appears not….
It appears that the corporation had simply taken the dental practice data base for granted.
Last week, I drilled my last cavity.
I seated my last crown, and I did my final dental examination.
For all of my patients who had followed me to where I had been working part time for the past two years, I made sure that they all had a definite place to go to continue on with their dental health.
Dentistry is more than just “I need more New Patients”.
Dentistry is about relationships with those customers who are proud to call you their dentist.
A U.S. dentist who is a coaching client of mine has just this month ceased accepting Medicaid patients in her dental office.
This has meant the discontinuation of entitlement to several thousand patients of record.
Medicaid is a government funded dental programme for a means tested population. The fees paid to the participating dentists are very low.
Of those patients contacted by my client’s office, the overwhelming response has been “Well where do I go now?”
Because of their entitlement mentality they couldn’t care less where they got their dentistry. None of them asked “How can I continue to be a patient of this dental office?”
For my client it has meant that she has stopped performing those dental procedures that are underpaid and are not profitable, on those customers that don’t appreciate her services.
How’s my client’s bottom line?
Well her Dental Office is up in collections about $250000.00 this year, and her no shows are dropping dramatically.
Her paying clients are able to be seen, and she is able to spend more time with those clients.
Treatment acceptances are up….
She’s building a business of repeat business of clients who are happy to see her and happy to pay her fees, rather than a business of trying to see everyone at any fee and hoping that there’s some profit in there somewhere….